I’m a nationally published sleep expert, journalist, and the mom of three young kids. I’ve been helping tired families sleep since 2007 (more about me here). Subscribe to The Well Rested Family for fresh news and tips on keeping your bunch happy and healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

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Entries in toddler naps (1)

Friday
Feb082013

Ask Malia: My toddler's naps are no-gos

I have been posting lots of nap questions lately, but well, you keep sending them! Here's another:

Hi Malia. I downloaded your first e-book and it has been incredibly helpful. After several months of terrible sleep, we have now had a full month of good rest for the whole family. It is amazing how much better we all feel when we are not sleep-deprived.

We now have a consistent schedule for naps and a nighttime sleep routine that works better for everyone. Instead of bouncing Henry to sleep in the Ergo, I now sit in a chair beside his crib and shush-pat the mattress until he falls asleep on his own. Plus, instead of waking up every 1-2 hours at night, he now wakes up once a night and sometimes even sleeps straight through from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Here’s my question: Arlo (12 months old) takes a very long time to fall asleep for naps. He takes two naps per day for a total of about 3 hours. When I would bounce him to sleep in the Ergo for naps it would take less than 15 minutes for him to fall asleep. Now that we are encouraging him to put himself to sleep in the crib, it takes 30-60 minutes. Some days, it even takes 90 minutes before he falls asleep on his own. Do you have any suggestions for how to encourage him to fall asleep more quickly in his crib?

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I’m so happy to hear about your success! And I do have suggestions for you. I think Arlo is starting down the long-ish road to dropping his morning nap. Fifteen months old is the average age for this, though babies can drop it anywhere from eight months to 24 months. Here's why I think he’s beginning to show  signs of the 2-1 nap switch: taking a long time to fall asleep at naptime and naps gradually getting later and later (i.e. waking from his last nap at 5 p.m., which pushes bedtime pretty late) are signs that he's beginning this transition.

Also, it's fairly common for naps to shift once a child starts sleeping more soundly at night, which Arlo has been doing. Especially for toddlers, who are beginning to need slightly less sleep than they did as infants anyway, starting to "sleep through the night" or even just sleeping more soundly with fewer awakenings at night fills up their sleep tank, so to speak, and they have less drive to sleep during the day. This can contribute to the nap resistance, along with his natural development and his age.

My article "Dropping a Nap Without Drama" may be helpful here. Essentially, you can either keep his morning nap at the same time each day and gradually shorten it until it's gone, or you can push it back so that the "morning" nap occurs at midday and the afternoon nap is more like a catnap. For Arlo's type of nap resistance, I recommend option 2.

I recommend pushing his morning nap later in 15 minute increments. I'd hesitate to make drastic changes to his sleep schedule because he is making big strides with his sleep and you're doing such a great job supporting his healthy sleep. I'd hate to see that progress get interrupted. Congratulations and keep it up!

I’m a nationally published sleep expert, health journalist, and mom. My articles about sleep, health, and parenting appear regularly in over 80 national and regional magazines and on television. Can I help you? Subscribe to The Well Rested Family to have sleep news, tips, and tactics delivered to your inbox or feed reader by clicking here.

Need more sleep? My e-book Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too is chock-full of mom-tested solutions to help babies and toddlers start sleeping well, tonight!

My new e-book Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers & Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades is available now!