HOW TO: HAVE THE BEST NAP TIME FOR KIDS
It’s meant to be a moment during the day when kids can get some much-needed rest and parents can get some much-needed downtime. Knowing when the time is right for a nap, how long it should be, and just how to get little ones settled can make nap times far more stressful than they should be. Parents’ lives are challenging enough, so nap times need to be as easy as possible.
So where do we start on the path to success? You can start by following two simple steps:
Step 1 - Understanding just how many daylight zzz’s your kids need.
Babies up to the age of 12 months naturally need more sleep as they are speeding through development which takes a massive toll on both their minds and bodies. Most babies will have 2-3 naps a day, ranging from 30 minutes to 2-hours, typically synched with their feeding schedules.
Toddlers, aged 1 to 3, tend to need around 2 hours of daytime sleep. Younger toddlers tend to have this split into a 1-hour nap in the morning and another in the afternoon, whereas older toddlers do better with a slightly longer nap (1-2 hours) in the early afternoon.
Preschoolers, aged 3 to 5, are usually best kept to a single afternoon nap ranging from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.
Most kids grow out of a nap by the age of 5, however providing time during the day for rest is still very important for any age. For kids who are no longer napping, set aside 30 minutes to an hour or so in the afternoon for mindful practices like meditation and quiet activities (coloring, reading, etc). This allows their bodies to slow down, recharge and still get the rest they need.
Step 2 - Creating a nap time routine.
Routine is vital when it comes to getting our kids to sleep at bedtime. But it makes sense in regard to nap time as well.
Nap time routines will naturally be shorter than bedtime routines since bath time, teeth brushing, and changing into pyjamas aren’t part of the agenda. However, if you have activities that you partake in leading up to bedtime then it’s important to bring them into play here as well.
Keep the nap location the same as their bedtime location to provide a sense of normalcy. If you tuck them in with certain stuffed animals, do the same for a nap. Reading a story at nap time can help trigger the same sleepy signals that occur when bedtime stories are read. If you use audio-stories or soothing sounds to help your little one drift off to dreamland at bedtime, like those available on the Moshi sleep app, be sure to bring those into your nap time routine as well.
Consistency is key and humans, regardless of age, are creatures of habit. If we, as parents, provide the same atmosphere and structure for nap time as we do bedtime then our little ones will be daylight snoozing in no time.
Here are a couple of extra things to keep in mind when it comes to nap time:
If you’re unsure as to when exactly your little one is ready for a nap, take a few days to observe how their energy fluctuates throughout the day. If there are times where they seem more content with quieter activities or appear to be slowing down, take note of the hour and work future nap times around that trend. As a general rule of thumb, most toddlers are ready for a nap around 3-4 hours following their last sleep time and preschoolers tend to be ready after lunch.
Don’t skip nap time for an earlier bedtime. It is possible for kids to become overtired which can result in restlessness and overall crankiness. This can have a negative effect on their self-soothing abilities and result in a more difficult bedtime experience. If nap time must be altered due to unavoidable reasons, like family trips, it’s best to gently shift the nap by either shortening the napping period by a small amount of time or even starting it a little earlier in the day.