6 Ways to Make Nap Time a Little Easier

Little boy is waiting in the bed

My 2-year old is fighting her afternoon nap. Sometimes she naps, sometimes it’s too short and some days she doesn’t nap AT ALL. On the days when she skips her nap all together, she falls apart on me about an hour before bedtime. It’s obvious that my toddler still needs a daily nap and let’s be honest here: I need the break just as much, if not more, than she needs a little shut-eye.

Toddlers fight naps for a variety of reasons: They may be overtired from the day’s activities (more sleep = more sleep). They might be overstimulated and have a hard time falling asleep. Or they may just be exercising some of their newfound independence.

If your toddler is fighting their nap, here are some tips that have really worked for me, and I hope they do for you too:

  • Make sure your toddler gets plenty of activity early in the morning. Go to the park, get outside and kick a ball, or run an errand and have them walk along side you.
  • Avoid excess television. Hey – I’m totally guilty of sticking my toddler in front of the TV when I need to get some stuff done. She naps a lot better when she hasn’t been vegging out in front of Elmo all morning.
  • Develop a nap time routine. Help your toddler unwind by reading books or singing songs and having some quiet time before you put them down. It doesn’t have to be as long or elaborate as your bedtime routine – keep it simple.
  • If you have an older child, make them part of the nap routine as well. Sometimes it’s hard for a toddler to take a nap when they feel like they are missing out on the fun. Make sure your toddler knows that their older sibling will be “resting” too.
  • Consider using white noise or relaxing music in the room. I swear by white noise machines. They drown out the busy noises of the day and help my toddler unwind. I actually use one in my own room too!
  • Keep the napping in a consistent place. Toddlers who nap in the car one day, their bed the next, in front of the TV another, tend to have irregular napping behaviors. Put your toddler down in the same place and the same time every day whenever possible. I know it’s hard, but the payoff is totally worth it.

If all else fails, and your toddler absolutely refuses to nap, then enforce a mandatory “quiet time.” Put your toddler in their room, allow them to play with whatever books and toys they want, but make a rule that they are not allowed to come out for a designated period of time. I know it’s hard to enforce this when you have a younger toddler, and maybe you will only get 20 minutes of down time, but it’s 20 minutes you didn’t have before – so enjoy it.

Good luck mamas!