Nap Time!

Kids sleep patterns change overtime. While your baby may have needed two naps a day, you may find that as he progresses in his toddler years, one short nap in the afternoon is more than sufficient. Putting him down for regular naps is important to his health and development. Establishing a regular nap time can help avoid some kids sleeping problems and will keep them happy, healthy and more alert. So how exactly do you encourage good nap time sleeping habits?

Cutting Back
Between 12 and 18 months toddlers stop needing two naps to get them through the day, usually giving up their morning nap in favor of the afternoon nap. By the third birthday, as much as 25% of toddlers will have kicked their napping habit altogether.

While the amount of sleep a toddler needs varies from child to child, the ideal length of nap times at this age is between one and two hours. Sleeping for longer than that can interfere with your toddlers sleep at night and before you know it, you'll have a kid with sleep problems on your hands. Many experts recommend putting a toddler down shortly after lunch. This way, it's not so late in the day that it will interfere with their nightly sleeping.

Establishing a nap time routine similar to your bedtime routine can often help make going down for a nap easier for your toddler. And just like bedtime, putting your toddler down at the same time everyday is important to helping her sleep better. You should also strive to have her nap in the same dark and quiet place everyday. If your toddler is fussy about being put down, then lie down with her for a bit to get her settled. Also, try to avoid frequent napping in a car seat or stroller. If your toddler becomes accustomed to sleeping in these places, you may find it difficult to get him to nap elsewhere.

Napping Away From Home
Although most daycares have a specified nap time set-up that all toddlers have to follow, your toddler may find it difficult to sleep somewhere that isn't home, at least at first. If this is the case for your toddler, then send along one of his favorite stuffed toys for him to settle down with at nap time. Having a familiar comfort from home can often help. You may also want to talk with the daycare staff to see if it's possible to incorporate any of your home routines into the daycare routine.

Having a nap mat can also help make nap time more inviting when your toddler is away from home. Nap mats can easily be rolled up which makes them great for traveling with. Some nap mats even come with built in pillows and blankets that are sewn onto one side of the mat, making sleeping on it much more comfortable. They can also be sent along to your toddler's daycare, which may help him look forward to napping.

Giving It Up
After your toddler's second birthday, you may find that she doesn't want to nap anymore or at least as often. While you don't want to force the issue, it is important to make sure that your toddler continues to have some quiet time. If she does not want to nap, then read with her or do a quiet activity together. This will give her some downtime and some rest from her busy day.

Since a non-napping toddler may be a cranky toddler, try to do as much as you can earlier in the day. As the day wears on, your toddler probably won't be as co-operative as you would like. So do those errands bright and early!

Get advice on how to help your toddler sleep by visiting our toddler forum.