Your little one has been having a great 1.5-2 hour (and sometimes 3 hour) nap in the afternoon for months– and now all of a sudden – she won’t sleep!!! Does this mean you are both losing that down time? No, not yet! Skipping naps is common at this age.
For the first 2 years of life, you might see your baby skip a few naps here and there, especially during developmental milestones. Closer to 20-36 months, we often see children resisting their naps more times in a week than they take it. This is happening for a few reasons….
As mentioned above, developmental milestones often cause disruptions to sleep. This is because she is shut off from the rest of the world, and all outside stimulation. At this age, vocabulary is building and she just needs to practice. Saying single words, trying to piece together sentences – it is amazing what she is absorbing throughout the day… and when she is alone, she is going to practice. Put on your monitor – you might be amazed at what you hear.
Finding Her Independence:
Around this age, she is also going to realize that she can make decisions too. What to eat, what to wear, when she wants to get into the bath etc ☺ One that I hear most often from client is “Are you tired?” “No” (even though you know that she is), she is going to want to try to stay awake…. Because she can.
This is her job! Her job is to test the boundaries, and your job is to keep firm where you need to. One of those times is sleep.
So what can you do to help her get that sleep that she needs?
Continue to put your little one down at her regular naptime and offering her the chance to have “down time” for your regular nap length. It will be tempting to skip it, or to get her up early, but doing that will make her more overtired, and she could fight it more the next day.
Change the Name:
Around this age I start to say “it is quiet time, you can sleep or you can talk quietly in your crib, but you need to rest until it is time to get up”. She might play the whole time and other days you might find she plays for a little while and then naps. You take away the “not tired” struggle and leave them with an option which helps with her newly found independence skills.
Make Bedtime Earlier:
With the loss of the nap, it is very easy for your little one to become overtired. On days that she doesn’t fall asleep, move bedtime at least 30 minutes earlier.
Be Consistent With Wake Up Time
Be sure to stay consistent with wake up time in the morning as well. Sometimes, an overtired child will start to wake up earlier than usual – try to leave her until it is her regular wake up time.
Be patient and consistent and you will see those naps return.
**This article appeared in City Parent magazine December 2014