How to survive when your toddler drops their nap

Quiet time

The transition to no nap can be quite daunting for parents. How are you going to get things done? When will you get a break in the day? How will my toddler cope all day without a nap?! These are super common concerns. Just because your little one has decided to or needs to drop to no nap doesn’t mean their body doesn’t need a rest.

Before we get into the meat of the quiet hour, it is important to know if your toddler/child truly is ready to drop their nap.

There is a sleep regression around the age of 2 years old that often shows up as nap refusal. This does not mean they are ready to drop their nap. Very few kids at this age will cope without a nap and so pushing through the two-ish weeks of the regression is necessary. In this case, keep offering a nap even if it means driving in the car to get it in while you ride out the regression to avoid your toddler becoming overtired which will increase night wakes and/or result in early mornings. If your toddler is waking frequently overnight, read this blog post – (9 Reasons Your Toddler is Waking Frequently Overnight).

Once your little one has dropped their day sleep (usually around 3-4 years old but can be earlier or later), you can start to implement a quiet time. This is a time during which your little one can rest their little bodies while doing some quiet activities that they enjoy like reading, building puzzles, colouring in, playing with duplo etc.

To implement a quiet hour, start with just 10 minutes.

You can even use a visual timer to let your toddler know when their quiet hour is finished. With each day add an extra 5 minutes until you have increased it to an hour. When the time is up, quietly peak into your toddler’s room, if she is engaged in an activity, leave her until she is done and realises on her own that the time is up. Make sure to give lots of praise after the quiet hour. 

A lot of toddlers come to love their quiet hour, here are some further tips to set your little one up for this.

  • Create a space specifically for quiet hour in their room, a play tent or corner of the room with cushions is great.
  • For the first few days, spend some time in this “special” space together and start talking about the quiet hour and that mommy is going to have her own quiet time too.
  • Set up a bunch of options for quiet play – books, puzzles, blocks etc.
  • Get your little one to choose 1-2 things they would like to play with during their quiet hour. 
  • Play some calming music to set the tone.
  • Use a visual timer so your little one can see how much longer they need to stay in their room playing quietly.
  • Start small and gradually work your way up to a longer quiet time.
  • If your little one comes out of their room and the quiet time isn’t up, quietly and calmly lead them back, point out the visual timer and say “you still have a little more time for your quiet hour, we’ll do something fun together when it’s done.”
  • Use a visual routine chart for their day so they can see what is ahead and so the quiet hour doesn’t come by surprise. 

Want some help setting up an age appropriate routine, solving bedtime struggles, fixing disrupted nights or getting rid of early mornings? My Toddler Guide has all this info and more with step-by-step guidance to implement the perfect plan for your family so you can all get the rest that you need!

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