You’re visiting the Birmingham branch of Little Dreams. Click here to view the main site.

How to Manage a Tricky Nap Day

toddler crying in a cot

Share This Post

Understanding Tricky Nap Days

First and foremost, it’s important to acknowledge that everyone experiences bad nap days. We’ve all been there, we’ve had our fair share of tricky nap days too. These can be triggered by a variety of factors such as overtiredness, teething, or even unknown reasons. Each child is unique, and their sleep needs can vary due to growth spurts, developmental milestones, or even minor disruptions in their routine.

Typically, children nap until they are between 2 ½ to 3 years old, but every child is unique. Some might stop napping earlier, while others might need naps for a bit longer. It’s important that your little ones can sleep independently at this age before transitioning them to a bed. Independent sleep skills are foundational for a smooth transition from a cot to a bed. If you’re considering this transition, check out my blog ‘When is the Right Time to Transition from a Cot to a Bed?’ for tips on how to make this shift with minimal disruption. Here I discuss strategies to ease this change, ensuring your child’s sleep is as uninterrupted as possible.

Staying Calm During a Tricky Nap Day

The key is not to panic. If your child refuses to nap at their usual time and you’re confident they are otherwise fine, consider taking them out for a walk in the pushchair, pram, or a drive in the car. This one-off approach can help them get some sleep, and then you can get back on track. Recognising that an occasional deviation from the routine won’t derail their overall sleep habits is important.

Be mindful of their awake windows for the next nap. If the tricky nap was short, they might need a shorter awake window to avoid overtiredness. Adjusting their awake window means being attentive to their sleep cues and ensuring they don’t become overtired, which can make it harder for them to settle down for their next nap. This adjustment can make the rest of your day much smoother. Additionally, maintaining a calm and positive attitude can help reassure your child and create a more favourable environment for rest.

Addressing Recent Changes

If you’ve been away or your child has had several naps on the go, this could be the reason behind the tricky nap day. Travelling or changes in the environment can disrupt a child’s sleep pattern, making it harder for them to settle into their regular nap routine. In such cases, gently remind your little one of their independent sleep skills as you initially did. This might involve re-establishing bedtime routines.

Within a few days, little ones should be back to their regular napping routine. Consistency is key, so continue to reinforce the sleep habits you’ve worked hard to establish. Remember that children thrive on routine and predictability, so the more stable their sleep environment, the quicker they’ll readjust.

Dealing with Nap Refusal

Nap refusal is a different challenge and typically occurs around the age of two. This developmental stage usually lasts a couple of weeks. During this time, your child may resist naps due to increased cognitive and physical activity, curiosity, or a desire for more independence. Stay consistent with offering naps, and your little one will soon return to their regular napping schedule.

If your child starts to refuse their last nap of the day or finds it increasingly difficult, it might be time to transition naps. This could mean moving from two naps a day to one longer nap. If this issue persists for more than a few days, refer to my blogs on transitioning naps. Check out the practical tips and strategies to help you navigate this transitional period smoothly, ensuring your child gets the rest they need.

BookingRemember, a tricky nap day is just that—a single day. If your child’s nap schedule returns to normal the following day, put it down to experience and move on. However, if tricky naps become a constant issue affecting nighttime sleep, don’t hesitate to book a free 15-minute call. My goal is to ensure that both you and your child enjoy restful and restorative sleep, leading to happier and healthier days ahead.

You may also like

Mother feeding her baby

Dream Feeding

For parents of newborns, the quest for longer stretches of sleep can feel like a never-ending journey. Those precious moments when your little one finally

Read More »