Nap time. The very words are a delight to the ears of weary parents. But as your child approaches the preschool years, you may wonder whether kids this age still need naps, as well as how to set a good nap time routine. According to the Cleveland Clinic, most preschoolers can still benefit from naps, although they will probably taper off around age 5. Because parents also benefit from an hour or two to themselves in the afternoon, everyone in the family will be better off if your little darling can rest quietly for a bit each day.
Establish a Routine
Children thrive on schedules and routines, and this applies to nap time as well. Put your child down to nap at the same time every day after experimenting with what time works best for your child. Early afternoon is a good place to start. Some parents read their preschooler a story before nap, just like before bed at night, so she understands that after her story in bed, it’s time to sleep. Lunch or a snack before nap can also become part of the routine, as it’s easier to sleep when you’re not hungry.
Set the Mood
If you live in a noisy area, consider putting on a white noise machine or a CD of soft music to drown out background noise that might keep your child awake. Close the blinds to darken the room as much as possible. Make sure your preschooler has his favorite stuffed animal or blanket, or whatever favorite toy he likes to sleep with at night.
Preschoolers don’t need to nap as much as they did as infants or toddlers, so an hour or so should be sufficient. Any more than that and you may find yourself with a wide awake 4-year-old later that night, and the last thing a parent needs is a preschool insomniac.
Even if kids don’t want to nap, encourage quiet time. At the same time every day, put her in her room and tell her she can either sleep or play quietly. She can use this time to unwind and learn to entertain herself a bit. This will also give Mom or Dad some much-needed quiet time, a respite in the middle of your hectic day.