Does your child still nap? According to WebMD, even a 3 or 4-year-old can benefit from a naptime each day, and 5-year-olds need a quiet rest time, even if they don’t actually sleep. So how do you get your child to take a nap each day? Here are 3 nap tips you might find helpful.
1. Pay Attention to The Timing of When You Put Them Down
Pick a time for naptime and then stick to it each day. For example, if taking a nap right after lunch works with your family’s schedule most days, make it a habit each day after lunch to put your child down for their nap. They may resist the nap at first, especially if they’re used to just napping whenever they want to, but if you are diligent, naptime won’t always be such a battle. Your child will eventually come to expect their naptime every day after lunch.
2. Develop a Consistent Routine for Naptime and Bedtime
This brings us to our next point: routine, routine, routine! When it comes to sleep, a routine is so critical for children. Children crave having a consistent routine each day so that, at any given point, they know exactly what to expect.
It’s essential that, whatever nap routine you establish, you mimic that same routine at bedtime. Your child should know, based on the various steps they’re doing with you, that naptime is just around the corner. Developing a naptime routine doesn’t have to be complicated, though. The goal is to simply set the tone for sleep. It could be as simple as “go potty, have a few sips of water, dim lights” or “wash face, read a book, turn on the sound machine.” Whatever routine you come up with, make sure it is consistent each day and that it is quiet and calming. By the end of the routine, your child should be relaxed and ready for sleep.
3. Know How Many Naps Your Child Needs for Their Age
Not every child needs the same amount of sleep each day. If you’re having trouble getting your child to nap, it could be they are getting too little or (in some cases) too much sleep. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following guidelines for daytime sleep for kids, based on their age:
- Babies: 3-4 naps, 1 hour each
- 4 months to 1-year-old: 2 naps, one in the morning and one in the early afternoon (Length may vary depending on the child.)
- 1 to 3 years old: 1afternoon nap, 1-2 hours long
Children ages 3-6 may still need a short nap or, at the very least, a quiet rest time in the afternoon to get them through the day. Encourage your child to look at books, play quietly with their toys, or just rest in bed with their favorite stuffed animal. This time away from stimulation is very important for your child’s emotional and physical health.
“What if my baby sounds fussy after I put him or her down? It’s common for babies to cry when put down for sleep. During your baby’s first month, avoid letting him or her cry. Soothe your baby by singing quietly, playing soft music or rocking him or her gently. At age 4 months, if your baby cries after being placed in the crib, check on him or her and offer comforting words. Then leave the room and give him or her time to settle again. You might also consider putting your baby down for a nap a little earlier. This might allow your baby to get past some fussiness by the time his or her nap is supposed to start.”Source: Mayo Clinic
A good naptime can make you and your child’s day go much more smoothly, so it’s worth the effort to create a solid routine. Well-rested children tend to have an easier time following instructions, managing their emotions, and paying attention in school.