“Mommy can I please stop playing and go lay down in my bed now?”
Said no child ever.
Naps. It’s one of those things God gave us to prove he loves us. Unfortunately, children don’t quite understand that concept.
One day they will look back and wonder why we had to “force” them to lay down in their warm bed with total peace and quiet. Until then, I’m here to tell you something that might seem crazy, but true.
I actually taught my child to hate naps. Yep, and despite him sleeping 12 glorious hours at night, once he turned 1, naps became the enemy.
How you ask?
It was actually quite easy.
I pretty much did the opposite of what I was “supposed” to do in order to get my child to nap. Thus, we basically lived in nap hell until my son grew out of them.
But hey someone has to learn from my mistakes.
Here’s how I sabotaged my son’s nap success and the 5 steps you should take to make sure you don’t end up like me!
1) Nap “time” happened once we arrived home from whatever errand I was running that day or when he fell asleep on the floor mid-sentence.
I’ve always had a busy schedule and hey I wanted my child to be adaptable so I thought what harm would come in letting him sleep when he appears tired? (I guess this is a myth)
It turns out there is an important thing called awake windows and once you miss them, a form of darkness takes over your child’s body and they become mean, very mean.
Awake windows are the small amounts of time that your child can stay awake before needing to sleep again. Once you miss these windows, you’re screwed basically. Don’t worry though based on your child’s age you can calculate their awake windows!
Awake windows depend on your child’s age. Here is a handy dandy graph that gives you an idea of how you can structure and actually PLAN your child’s naptime everyday.
The key is not to allow your child to become overtired…because they become scary but also because when this happens it also affects night time sleep too (how grand).
2) Not only do awake times matter, but the time of day is equally as important for naps (exhausting, right?)
Naps sometimes happened in our household at 3pm, and of course because my son was overtired at this point he often slept until 5pm if I let him (which let’s be real I always did).
For babies 7 months and older, their afternoon nap should never extend past 330pm. This most certainly will disrupt nighttime sleep and you’ll end up with a 5am riser, and who honestly functions at that time?! Not me.
3) Apple juice at naptime? Sure, honey.
Why I never made the correlation between the disruption of sleep and sugar is beyond me. Sometimes things take awhile to click in this Mom brain of mine and this was one of those times.
Most juices have just as much sugar as a soda and should be avoided like the plague before nap and bedtime. And also avoided in the morning…and in the evening. So basically between 11am-11:15 you can give your child 1 jelly bean.
4) Naptime “routine” lasted a total of 35 seconds…basically the time it took to walk from the living room to the bedroom
Bedtime and Naptime routines should be similar. Children have an incredible amount of energy (as if I need to tell you) and need time to wind down before any type of sleep (not just bedtime). I recommend a minimum of 15 minutes of quite time in or out of their room before putting them in bed. This is something I struggle with still. Don’t get me wrong, I totally love time with my kids at night, but time seems to stand still in their bedrooms. I just want to be able to read ONE book, kisses, prayers and then lights out. Once in awhile my child loves me and this happens, but to be totally real I dread this daunting process so much of the time.
So if you’re anything like me, set a timer and spend that exact amount of time attempting to “wind down”, staying as consistent as possible
5) “My child just isn’t a napper”
MISTAKE, MISTAKE, MISTAKE!
Listen, I love naps more than anyone. So I never wanted to believe that my child didn’t need to nap, but somehow had convinced myself that this was my reality. I am here to tell you that EVERY CHILD NEEDS TO NAP!
Ok your 10 year old might not need to but all babies and small children must nap! Even my 6 year old child could do with a solid 2 hours of mid-day sleep. I promise you your baby is not the only child in the world who is supernatural and functions well without proper sleep.
It is often the above mistakes that lead our children down the road of terrible naps. Change your approach, learn from my mistakes, and I promise your little will be on their way to naptime success!