How to Get Kids to Sleep
If Your Child Is a Nap Protester
All the red flags are there: the piercing whine, the blank stare, the ornery ’tude. She clearly needs a nap. Why won’t she take it? Many toddlers start to refuse the midday siesta because they’re afraid that they’ll miss out on the fun or they want to be like the big kids. And when a kid gets overtired, there’s no reasoning with her. “Sometimes a child feels the drowsiness and doesn’t know what to do, so she struggles against it—which makes it even more difficult for her to settle down,” says Rosen. There is some good news: You may have more control over naps than over nighttime sleep. New research published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that while genetics can dictate how much sleep toddlers get at night, environment plays a large role in their napping habits. So you need a naptime routine as sacred as your bedtime routine. Build physical activity, like jungle-gym sessions, into your morning schedule, then ease into low-key play, like coloring, to wind down. When she’s calm, head her to bed and employ the same lullaby tactics that you use at night. If she’s still resisting, arguing won’t work. But tell her that she needs quiet time in her room. Eventually she may nap, despite her valiant efforts to the contrary. If several weeks go by and your child still isn’t nodding off, she may be over it. “Kids usually phase out naps between the ages of 3 and 6,” says Rosen.