Sanity and the Toddler Nap

“It’s nap time,” I say to my daughter.

Luckily, this announcement isn’t met with cries and wails. She’s often running on all cylinders, so she needs the downtime – not to mention, so do I.

napping1 300x262 Sanity and the Toddler Nap Photo

Naps are important both in the short and long term for toddlers

Napping not only gives her the rest she needs, but it also ensures she won’t have a meltdown later that afternoon.  My two-year old can transform from a happy go-lucky sweetheart to a whiny, unmovable curmudgeon without those precious hours of afternoon shuteye.

Yet, missing a nap doesn’t just affect her mood. A recent study out of the University of Colorado Boulder found that toddlers between 2 and a half and 3 years old who miss their daily nap show more anxiety, less joy and interest and a poorer understanding of how to solve problems.

Taken to the extreme, the researchers concluded that toddlers who repeatedly miss naps could be doomed – for life!

“…Missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings, and, over time, may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems,” said CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Monique LeBourgeois, who led the study.

In my house, it isn’t unusual for my daughter to nap a good two to three hours, but even 90 minutes per day is enough to refuel a toddler’s “sleep tanks.”

How can you ensure your child will go down for that afternoon respite?

  1. Create a napping place. Just like with most things, consistency is key when it comes to children. Have them sleep in one place as consistently as possible.
  2. Minimize distractions.  The curiosity of toddlers is easily piqued. By keeping noise and distractions to a minimum, you don’t give them the opportunity to choose to stay up rather than miss what’s going on.
  3. Borrow from your nap time routine. Does your child like a book before bedtime? The same soothing techniques you use at night also work in the afternoon. Use them to create an atmosphere of content to help them fall asleep.

Have any other tips to share? Leave them in the comments below.