Weekly Toddler Sleep Help Question for The Sleep Lady:
“I have an almost 2 year old toddler (will be 2 in a couple weeks) and she will not nap. This just started, in the past she would nap for 2 hours. We do the same routine that we always do – books, rock, nap – at the same time (around 1), but all of a sudden she will not go to sleep even though I know she is tired. She will play for 2 hours in her crib. She normally goes to bed at 7:30 and will wake up at 7am. Should we just forgo the nap? Not sure if this makes a difference, but she moved to one nap a day well before she turned a year old. Help!” Lydia
Your daughter is not the only 2 year old who decides they no longer want to nap! Many two year olds go through a phase where they think they no longer need to nap. We as parents know better! The average 2 year old needs 11 hours of sleep at night and 2 hours of sleep at nap time. They are growing and learning at an amazing pace at this age and sleep is essential for both! They are also experimenting with what they can control and what they can’t. A two year old can control if they are going to swallow the broccoli, poop on the potty and go to sleep at nap time!
I would continue with your usual pre-nap routine (making sure you are not rocking her too much) and have her spend at least one hour in her crib. You can use wake up music or a wake up light to signal when nap time is over. You can’t “make her sleep” but make the environment sleep inducing. Room darkening shades, dim night light if any and no toys in the crib. Think of it like quiet time so make sure her crib isn’t too exciting.
If you notice her mood taking a turn for the worst after a few days of no napping, consider taking her for a car or stroller walk in hopes that the motion lulls her in to sleep. This is just a temporary measure to help fill the sleep tank so she doesn’t get too overtired. You may need to move her bedtime to 7pm on the days she doesn’t sleep at nap time.
You’ll be happy to hear that the majority of 2 years old who go through this “anti-nap” phase usually pass through it and return to napping.
When you think she is ready to transition to quiet time (hopefully when she is closer to 3 years old) read this article to make that transition smooth.
Kim, The Sleep Lady