Your toddler has stopped napping on the weekends and goes to bed at night pretty well. But he’s napping at daycare all week, and bedtime has become a disaster!
You can’t get him down until 9 p.m. or later, and it’s a battle every night.
You’re not alone
While kids transition away from taking naps, it feels like it throws their whole sleep schedule out of whack. I hear the complaint from families all the time that when their child naps at daycare during the week, bedtime is impossible. But on the weekend, with no nap, bedtime is much easier.
The challenge is: many daycares are required by state laws or licensing to offer a nap, so it can leave parents in a bit of a pickle.
But there are ways around this. Read on for tips to help your toddler become an awesome little sleeper.
>>Watch this blog on my Awesome Little Sleepers YouTube channel! 👇
A few nap guidelines to ease the bedtime battle
I recommend encouraging kids to nap until they’re at least 3.5 to 4 years old.
Kids often really need to hold onto the nap longer than parents think they do. Especially if kids are at school. School days are busy, fun - and exhausting. So, lots of kids may actually need the nap at school, but not on the weekend. This split sleep schedule can continue for a while, and that’s okay.
For toddlers and preschoolers, naps should start between 12:30 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. and end by 3 p.m. at the latest.
Work with your toddler’s daycare to make bedtime better
Reducing the nap
Check in with your daycare and ask for a daily report of how long your child actually sleeps.
Some parents assume if rest time is 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m., that their child is taking a 2-hour nap each day, but they may only actually be sleeping for an hour.
If your child has been doing the split schedule for a while (napping during the week but not on the weekend) and they start to resist bedtime on nap days - meaning they genuinely don’t seem tired at all by the 7 o’clock hour - consider reducing the nap before you try to drop it.
Most daycares will go for this. You can ask them to limit rest to one hour of sleep. Or, if rest time is 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m., ask them to put your kid down last and wake them up first, shortening the nap.
Dropping the nap completely
If you really want the nap stopped completely, ask your daycare if your child can go to a different classroom during the nap period. If that’s not possible, offer to bring in a bag of quiet toys that your child can play with during nap time.
Often, rest time is mandated but kids are not required to sleep. So, if you bring in a special bag of toys that your child only gets at rest time, they’ll be interested. And if the toys can be played with on their cot by themselves, daycares will usually be okay with it. Win-win.
Once your child does drop that nap, make sure there’s no car nap on the way home!
A late car nap will really screw up bedtime. Also keep in mind that once the nap is gone, bedtime may need to be moved a little bit earlier to make up for some of the lost sleep.
Help your toddler become an awesome little sleeper for the long haul
If bedtime is always a struggle and you think there’s more going on than just a napping issue, join my next Toddler Sleep Masterclass. It’s totally free, but you do have to reserve a spot.