The first few years of your child’s life will leave you exhausted because there appears to be no set sleeping schedule. You learn to sleep whenever your child finally passes out, then wake up as soon as you hear the sounds of the infant or toddler stirring (especially toddlers since you can’t leave them alone for a second without regretting it).
People rarely warn you about is how babies’ sleep patterns shift as they become grow older. You can put a two-year old down for a nap every day at 2 pm; how long (or if) the child will sleep is completely unpredictable. There are a few things you can do to help your child sleep at nap time.
Make sure the child is physically active before going to bed.
You don’t have to do this immediately before nap time, just any time in the morning before the child lies down. It takes a lot of energy for a toddler to move around, and that is something that can definitely be used to your advantage.
Reduce the number of naps.
If your child doesn’t sleep for the first nap, but passes out before it is time for the second nap, it probably means your little one only needs one nap instead of two.
Track the duration of naps.
If it appears your child still needs two naps, consider keeping the naps shorter. You may have to a wake a grumpy toddler, but after a while your child will adjust.
Keep a regular nap schedule once you have one established.
The occasional break in schedule may be alright, but try to avoid it as much as possible. If your child learns to nap at a certain time, his or her body will give in much more easily than his or her mind.
Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three preschool and Child Day Care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child’s social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.