How often do you wish you could squeeze a nap into your busy schedule? As adults, we would love for someone to make us lie down and take a nap each day. Why is it that children seem to want to fight naps? Knowing that naptime is an important part of a toddler’s day, it is important to encourage children to lie down and close their eyes for an allotted time each day. According to Dr. Jason Coles, a sleep specialist with Spectrum Health Medical Ground and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, “The goal of naptime should be the equivalent of a total sleep cycle or 90 minutes.” As parents, we can be successful in getting our child to sleep only to find they are waking up 30 or 45 minutes into their nap.
So how can a parent be successful at getting their child to sleep and staying asleep for that full sleep cycle? Below are some helpful tips to get your child to do just that:
Create a specific sleep schedule
This will include a specific bed time, wake time and nap time. Children thrive on consistency and the routine will trigger your child’s natural body clock.
1. Eat right:
Foods can affect energy level and sleepiness. Foods high in protein and sugar can generate alertness while carbohydrates can have a calming effect on the body. Some good pre-nap foods are whole wheat toast and cheese, bagel and peanut butter, oatmeal and bananas.
2. The right sleep environment:
Make sure blankets are warm, but not too warm because it’s hard to sleep when you’re over heated. Ensure your child is dressed in comfy clothes or pajamas and allow them to have a comfort item such as a stuffed animal or favorite doll.
3. Promote relaxation:
What should a child do once they get into bed? A good pre-nap ritual can do wonders. Play soft music, sing a nice lullaby, or read them their favorite story.
At Growing Room, with our infants we work with our parents and follow the schedule the child is on at home. As the babies first birthday is approaching our teachers work to get the children to move from two naps per day to one nap per day. At this time the entire class begins to adhere to more of a classroom schedule. We provide a peaceful setting in the classroom with soft music playing, a blanket for the child to snuggle with, and loving teachers who help comfort the children as they are drifting off to sleep. If our parents are having trouble getting their child to nap at home, we encourage them to do some of the same things we are doing in the classroom. We find that consistency and routine each day are keys to successful naps.
If your child is in daycare and you are having trouble getting your child to nap at home, talk to their daycare provider to see what naptime looks like at school and then try to implement some of the same things at home.