Around 3 1/2, my daughter Bella decided she no longer wanted nap time. She would melt down at the mention of it. I counted my blessings that she still napped this far in, many of my friends’ kids had stopped a year earlier. Inside though, I died a little.
We decided she could skip it, but then I realized after a few weeks that by 5pm she could barely keep her eyes open. She’d fall asleep in the car, pass out on the couch – it was pretty obvious to me she still needed at least a short rest time.
The word nap seemed to become a thing of horror to her. Sam and I danced around it, spelling it out until she figured that anything that started with an “n” ended with her in bed. She’d get herself so worked up over nap that it would take her forever to calm down, and by then it was too late for her to sleep.
Giving back Bella some choices/control about this time was key. She needed to feel that part of this time was geared to her and not just her being sent away for a nap. We started calling it “Quiet Time” instead of nap time. My own mom reminds me that we all had a quiet time in our rooms way past Bella’s age, and it was a wonderful thing for us all. I usually feel a lot less guilty about having her nap still when I see her pink cheeks, crazy hair, and poofy-from-sleep eyes peeking excitedly around her door at me, ready to play again.
Here are seven simple ways to encourage your child to nap, or at the very least play and rest quietly in their rooms:
7 Ways to Encourage a Still-Needed Nap Time 1 of 8
Does your kid still need to nap - even if they don't think so? Here are 7 simple ways to help encourage them to take one (or at least a quiet time) without the tears and drama.
Small Sayings 2 of 8
I came up with a simple saying to explain how Bella still needed down time: "Everyone takes a rest. Everyday." Period. No arguing. I often would rest on the couch at this point since I was pregnant, and on the weekends Sam and I used this time to watch TV and chill out. She began to see that it wasn't just her resting.
Story Time 3 of 8
We curl up and read a story together before she gets time to play and then rest. This allows her to have some one-on-one time, and it feels a lot less like I'm pushing her to nap.
Like Night 4 of 8
Room darkening curtains are a must if you don't have heavy blinds. We have wood ones in our new home, but our last house absolutely had to have these. Until we were able to install them, Bella wouldn't even take a nap. After that, it was so dark that we had to get a nightlight. She slept like a rock.
Purchase on Amazon for $39.99
A Lovey 5 of 8
This lightweight blanket is so perfect for nap. Bella calls this one (which I received as a baby shower gift for her) "Brown Blanket" and it goes everywhere with us. Four years later and it's held up to some serious love, cat swaddling, and washing. The design is super soft and covers her completely, so I often find her wrapped up in it asleep.
Purchase on Amazon for $36.99
Cooling Fan 6 of 8
This fan makes the perfect amount of cool air in a bedroom, and it allows her to fall asleep comfortably without waking up because she's hot. We've used it for years in Bella's room. She's never been a child who gets into things, but if your child is a lot more curious, consider placing it on top of something unreachable with the cord well hidden.
Purchase on Amazon for $20.99
White Noise 7 of 8
Bella's had some sort of white noise since she was born. We used to have one so loud Sam told me he felt like he was going to sleep next to Niagara Falls. We bought this a couple years ago for the white noise and fun slides that lit up Bella's room a little at night. Although the slide part no longer works, the white noise still does.
Purchase on Amazon for $24.38
Timer 8 of 8
I bought a simple kitchen timer for her room. She has 20 minutes to play with her stuffed animals in her bed. When the timer goes off, it's her cue to lay down and try to nap.
Purchase on Amazon for $8.79
Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, Still Standing Magazine, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, with smaller glimpses into her day on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
More from Diana:
- An Update on Nighttime Potty Training 3 Months Later
- The Why Phase and Other Paybacks for Being a Know it All
- How Our First Day of Homeschool Became My Own Lesson
- The Myth of Parenting After Losing a Child
- Say #GoodNightRoozle: The Little Girl Who Draws Herself to Sleep
- Our Colorado Christmas