The end of a season….Napping. This is a transition that most moms DREAD! And for good reason… The thought of NOT having a break in the middle of the day feels completely unmanageable and overwhelming. Like… it’s going to be the Loooongest Day EVER!! So many parents ask me, “What are some tips to transition my toddler from afternoon napping to quiet time?”
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!!
One of the biggest mistakes many parents make is stopping the nap and then not transitioning to quiet time IN PLACE of the nap. This is WAY TOO long of a day for everyone! Even if your toddler no longer needs a nap it doesn’t mean he doesn’t need downtime midday. Everyone needs time to rest, decompress, and well…just be alone. That’s why it’s so important for you to have a strategy to transition your toddler from napping to quiet time!
Most toddlers will stop napping somewhere between 3-5 years old. In my experience, most 3-year-olds still need a nap but many moms will give the nap up because the 3-year-old is resisting. A lot of times this has more to do with FOMO than it does with not actually needing the sleep. Or simply being a normal 3-year-old and pushing boundaries. Naps are, in my opinion, one of those hills that are worth dying on! The whole rest of the day goes better when your kiddo naps AND you get a break.
However, if you see that your child is taking FOREVER to fall asleep at bedtime or they are consistently not falling asleep for the nap, then it may be time to drop it and move to quiet time instead.
If that’s where you’re at, then here are some ways to transition your toddler from naptime to quiet time AND set clear boundaries.
Establish a clear start and end time for quiet time.
Using a toddler clock or the Hatch Baby Rest are good options to provide a visual cue. When my kids were young and doing quiet time, my rule was at least 1 ½ hours and most of the time it was 2 hours that I required for quiet time. I needed that time for my own ability to recharge or get tasks done and it was good for my kids to learn to entertain themselves for an extended period of time. My kids did Playpen time from the time they were young so they knew how to play independently for an extended period of time. The transition will be easier if you’ve already established this habit. If not, no worries! You can start now.
Ideally, they need to be in their bedroom rather than the main part of the house.
If this isn’t possible due to sibling room sharing then use another space. An office or even your bedroom ( if you’re not going to be in there during that time) works great.
Screens are NOT downtime for our brains as they cause all kinds of excitatory chemicals to release and if your child sits in front of a screen for 1-2 hours he will not feel refreshed or rejuvenated after his quiet time. He will feel more drained and his brain will be tired. Reading is a great activity to do during this time and for kids that do still need the nap some days, you may find that they actually fall asleep here and there. I’m also a BIG believer in instilling a love of reading into our kids, so requiring that at least SOME of the time spent in their room is spent reading is a great way to encourage a love of reading and give their brains and bodies a break.
Hold strong boundaries.
Don’t give in to requests to be done or come out of the room early. If you always hold that boundary then any requests should be short-lived. Also don’t allow them to call out or persuade you to come in the room over and over. Having a gate at the door for a 3-year-old may be necessary to provide a physical boundary so they don’t come out of the room, or you can also just close the door.
If you have a child in a season of struggle – – give them 15-20 minutes.
If you have a child that is in a season of struggle and needing some extra connection, this is a good time to go lay in their bed with them and spend 15-20 min reading together or playing a quiet game together. If your quiet time requirement is 2 hours this still gives you enough time to get other things done or rest yourself. If you have multiple kids you can rotate each day spending a little quality time with each kiddo. It doesn’t have to be much to fill their emotional tank.
So I hope that you now feel encouraged and equipped with these tips to transition your toddler from naptime to quiet time. My hope for you is that once naps are no longer happening in your home you know that you’re not destined for a 12-hour day with no break in sight!
If you have any questions that I can answer about transitioning your toddler from naps to quiet time, or if your toddler is struggling with this transition, please feel free to reach out! I’m here to help!
Need additional Resources?
Toddler Nutrition & Sleep
This is THE Key to Successful Sleep Training
Top Sleep Tips for Traveling with Young Kids