Naps are important for kids — and for parents, too! Besides giving kids a some much needed rest during the day, that little block of time gives a mom an opportunity to get some work done — or hopefully a little “me” time to chill a bit. Instilling good sleeping habits in your kids will make getting kids down for nap much easier.
Set the Mood
You should create a calming atmosphere in the room where your child naps. The room should be cool, quiet and as dark as possible. If you live in a place where there’s lots of outside noise — like across from a school or a train station — consider turning on some soothing music, perhaps soft, classical pieces or children’s lullabies, to help lull your little one into dreamland. You can also use a sound machine to provide white noise in the background.
Choose the Time
Experiment to see what time works best for your child’s nap. In general, early afternoon is a good time for napping, especially if your toddler or preschooler is an early riser. You want enough hours to pass between waking and napping — and you also want to wait until after he’s had lunch, so he’s not hungry. Don’t have your little one nap too late in the afternoon, or he’ll still be “raring to go” at night when he should be ready for bed.
As much as possible, have your child nap at the same time every day — and don’t skip naps if you can avoid it. Set a routine for nap time, just as you do for bedtime. You might read a story or sing a favorite nap time song together. Your child might also like to settle in with a favorite stuffed animal or doll. Make sure she has her cuddle-buddy, so you can go downstairs and perhaps, cuddle up with a good book for awhile.
Length of Nap
Toddlers might need to nap for several hours, while preschoolers might just rest for an hour. Even if your preschooler doesn’t want to sleep, put her in her room for an hour or so to play quietly or nap, her choice. Toddlers need about 12 to 14 hours of sleep each day including naps and overnight sleep time, while preschoolers need 11 to 13 hours, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
While some parents worry that naps will keep kids from sleeping well at night, that isn’t the case. In fact, HealthyKids reports that kids who are well-rested overall actually have an easier time falling asleep at night than children who are overtired. So don’t be quick to eliminate nap time — it’s good for both of you.