November 30, 2015
Nap Transitions: Part 3 of 3

Dropping naps is a major milestone for any family.

The transition from 3 down to 2 naps is relatively easy to contend with. 2 down to 1 and 1 down to 0 – those transitions can be challenging for even the best of sleepers. I always encourage parents to protect those naps for as long as they can and transition only when absolutely necessary. If you’ve done everything to can to prolong their nap in a daily sleep schedule, you will have to an easier transition. Absolute readiness is key to success.

The transition from 1 to no nap per day is likely to be between 3 and 4 years of age. Although there’s lots of variation – some showing signs of readiness for transition as early as 2 years old, while others are willing to hold onto their second nap until closer to 5 years old. If your child generally seems well rested, is following a schedule that works for your family, I’m not concerned about the number of hours a child allocates to naps and night sleep. Simply getting an adequate quantity of sleep is most important.

Protect The Nap

Try to hold onto the nap by:

  • trying out alternate timing (slightly earlier nap time, slightly later nap time)
  • capping the length (waking your child slightly earlier, by a certain time or a certain quantity of sleep, so as not to impact bedtime)
  • dropping the nap power struggle (offer Quiet Time!)
  • Adjusting bedtime slightly later
  • Ensuring physical activity, preferably outdoors. Each hour of inactivity delays bedtime by approximately 3 minutes!

Readiness for No Nap

Signs indicating readiness for a transition to no naps in the day:

  • 3+ years of age
  • Playing (or protesting) through a nap
  • The nap begins to interfere with night sleep (likely long latency to sleep)

If your child is younger than 3 years, it may be worth trying to hold onto that nap. There are MANY significant cognitive leaps between their 2nd and 3rd birthdays. They might be inconsistent with day sleep, but continue to offer it. Many children under 3 will have some days where they may not nap, but that’s not a reason to take rest out of their daily schedule.  It’s not unusual to have phases where naps are irregular. But keeping naps until at least age 3 has shown real benefits in areas of emotional control (hello meltdowns!) and problem solving.

No Nap Schedule

RIP Naps

Bedtimes are likely to be reflective of your child’s particular sleep needs, along with their wake times. During a period of transition, you may find you need to keep bedtime cautiously early – just as their bodies adjust to bridging those long periods of wakefulness. I always recommend parents keep quiet time when transitioning away from naps. It gives your child the option to snooze if they need it, but as importantly, they have a chance to foster some independent playing skills, while giving their care provider a much needed break.

Whenever there is a transition, the most important thing to remember is that the QUANTITY of sleep does not change dramatically. Just the ALLOCATION of the sleep is going to be adjusting. It’s very likely that a child who is adjusting to no midday snooze is going to need a very early bedtime to compensate for their missed sleep.

If your afternoons, sans nap, resemble something like this, you might need to think about reintroducing nap time:

Here’s a handy little chart for approximating the quantity of naps for each age group.

Age and Naps Per Day

xxoo

Krista

About the author:

KristaGuenther Krista is a mother of 3 (+1 dog who believes she’s people), a wife to a wonderful husband, and the owner and founder of Sleeperific.  Even though she’s been in the sleep consulting biz for 4 years, she still gets excited when she’s hired by a sleepy family.
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November 25, 2015
Nap Transitions: Part 2

The transition from 3 down to 2 naps isn’t such a big deal. 2 down to 1 and 1 down to 0 – those transitions are beasts. I always encourage parents to protect those naps for as long as they can and transition only when absolutely necessary. Ensuring you’ve done everything to can to prolong their 2 nap per day schedule will lead to an easier transition. We want to be 100% ready for these transitions.

The transition from 2 to 1 nap per day is likely to be around 15 months of age. Although there’s lots of variation – some showing signs of readiness for transition as early as before their 1st birthday, while others are willing to hold onto their second nap until closer to 18 months.

Protect Two Naps

Pull out all the stops to preserve that 2 nap per day schedule:

Have you….

  • capped their morning nap?
  • nudged the timing apart as much as possible (while still being respectful of circadian rhythms)?
  • nudged bedtime slightly later?
  • Ensured your child is having active days, with at least 30 minutes outdoors? (Ontario Day Nurseries Act recommends up to 2 hours of outdoor play for children 6 and under)

Readiness for One Nap

STILL not making this 2 nap per day schedule work? Readiness to transitioning from 2 down to 1 nap per day means:

  • At least 1 year old – Although I think children can show some signs that make it appear like they’re close to dropping a nap, that’s rarely the case before their 12 months old. It’s likely any disruptions you see around this age are related to developmental milestones (hello standing! walking! running!).
  • Sleeping well at night – We don’t remove naps hoping to compensate for poor quality and quantity of night sleep. It’s likely that children having disrupted sleep needs MORE, not less sleep.
  • Walking – Kids become MUCH more physically fatigued when they start walking and running around. You’re going to want to have 2 naps in your routine when those little legs start moving.
  • Consistently missing one of their naps – In spite of doing everything above, is your child still not napping for both naps consistently? Don’t be too quick to pull it. A missed nap occasionally happens with older babies/almost toddlers. If your child misses it consistently for 10 days in a row, then it’s time to think about dropping it.

One Nap Schedule

You’ve done your homework, aimed to preserve 2 naps and your toddler meets all the criteria?  Sigh, you’re moving to one nap per day.   This means your child will likely need a nap around midday. For kiddos that LOVED their morning nap, push out the timing (9:30, 10AM, 10:30, etc).  Effectively their morning nap becomes their midday nap. For kiddos that were rejecting their morning nap, they should find this transition a bit easier and will nap around midday.

I’ve reminded you of this before (and I’ll probably remind you again): sleep needs DO NOT change, just because of a nap transition. Just the ALLOCATION of the sleep is adjusting. The total quantity of sleep in a 24 hour period should remain similar in either a one nap/day or two nap/day schedule.

How did your nap transition go at this age?

xxoo

Krista

About the author:

KristaGuenther Krista is a mother of 3 (+1 dog who believes she’s people), a wife to a wonderful husband, and the owner and founder of Sleeperific.  Even though she’s been in the sleep consulting biz for 4 years, she still feels excited and honoured when she’s hired by a sleepy family.
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November 17, 2015

3 naps down to 2 naps per day
Nap Transitions: Part 1 - Transitioning from 3 down to 2 naps per day

Hi Krista,

My baby is having trouble taking his 3rd nap in the late afternoon. When we’ve tried skipping it, bedtime is a mess. What should we do with this?  When can we drop the nap?

-3rd nap is not the charm

 

I’m often asked about these nap transitions. When to drop a nap from a schedule is a popular question for infants, toddlers and even preschoolers. This series of blog posts will discuss what signs to look for, approximate ages and some troubleshooting tips for either transitioning or trying to sustain an age appropriate schedule.

Often infants will adopt a schedule of a morning nap, an early afternoon nap and a later afternoon catnap. While I’m willing to fight to keep nap 1 and 2, nap 3, meh. As soon as that third nap dwindles or becomes difficult, I find it’s best to say see ya later.

What are some signs the nap is a problem?

Generally, one of two things will start to happen. Your baby will either resist their nap (and stay awake, or maybe even protest through) their nap. Or your baby will love their last nap so much that it starts to interfere with an early bedtime. If this nap becomes too difficult, it’s not worth it.

When is it age appropriate?

Typically, a third nap can start to dwindle as early as 4 months (it’s early, but it’s not unheard of – this munchkin was the WORST third napper but had a pretty strong nap 1 and 2), but some babies are perfectly happy to keep a 3rd nap until 8 months old. Some families really like maintaining their 3 nap schedule because a parent doesn’t arrive home until later in the evening. It can be a great way to sustain a slightly later bedtime.

How do I get rid of it?

This is the easiest nap to eliminate, especially if it’s 6 months or later. It’s likely you’ll nudge out nap 1 and 2 a little, spacing them out over the day. It’s also likely that your baby will need an earlier bedtime.

The most important detail to remember in any transition is that a child’s sleep needs DO NOT change, just because they’re transitioning to one less nap in the day. They can’t suddenly remove 30 minutes of sleep from their schedule.  This transition is about a child being able to stay awake for longer periods. Sleep minutes that were typically part of nap 3 will need to be allocated somewhere else into the day (maybe other naps [see how to lengthen naps], but most likely, these reallocated minutes will end up in their night sleep).

Stay tuned in coming weeks for the follow up posts on transitioning from 2 down to 1 nap and 1 down to no nap.

xxoo

Krista

About the author:

KristaGuenther Krista is a mother of 3 (+1 dog who believes she’s people), a wife to a wonderful husband, and the owner and founder of Sleeperific.  Even though she’s been in the sleep consulting biz for 4 years, she still feels excited and honoured when she’s hired by a sleepy family.
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November 12, 2015
Tips for Extending Naps

Ahh, naps, a parent’s favourite time of day. There’s always a million things to do at nap time. But when your baby or toddler is waking up 30 minutes after a short snooze, that’s not much of an opportunity to do what we need to do as parents, nor is it likely enough for your child to make it through to their next nap, or bedtime.

Why Short Naps (aka Snaps)?

Child sleep cycles during the day are about 30-45 minutes in length. Often the exact length of the nap will be predicted by the length of your child’s sleep cycle. My son’s sleep cycle was 38 minutes, my youngest was 31 minutes. Parents can often set the watches by the nap length of their munchkins.

Your child will start out awake, enter a deeper state of sleep and then come around to a lighter stage of sleep again. At this point they may enter another sleep cycle, or surface completely from that sleep. Most babies would likely signal (crying or maybe words depending on age) for their parent. Some of you might have a child who stirs and is able to move along to the next sleep cycle. Some of you might have a child where you don’t even notice their transition onto their next sleep cycle.

This means a 30-45 minute nap is normal. Expected. Biologically appropriate. But we want more! Most kids can’t get by on a short nap. It will mean their next nap needs to be soon or they will be stretched to overtiredness by the time bedtime rolls around.

How do I get a long nap?

  • Independence: Your child must put their self to sleep at the beginning of the nap if you expect them to stay asleep. If you or another prop has assisted your child to sleep, they will be far less likely to stay asleep. Remember we have to give your child a chance to practice the skills it takes to go BACK to sleep through a nap.
  • Sleepy Environment: Ensure a dark space that’s conducive to sleep. Use blackout curtains to minimize the intrusion of daylight.
  • Timing: Is your child sleepy enough? Is your child overtired? Undertiredness and overtiredness can BOTH contribute to short nap syndrome.
  • Hunger: Many parents like to follow Tracey Hogg‘s E.A.S.Y (Eat, Activity, Sleep) schedule. I like it too, we minimize the feed to sleep association there. But if you’re young baby is likely to be hungry within an hour of putting them down for a nap, you’d be better to offer even a small feeding to help ensure their belly is full enough for a long nap.
  • Don’t rush the rescue: We’re expecting a waking at that 30-45 minute mark. Give your child (even a small) opportunity to resettle and continue on with that next sleep cycle. If we rush in immediately, we’re potentially taking away a chance to go back to sleep.
  • Not enough sleep: This is a pretty big one. I often see this with my clients… not until we get a child better rested do we have a better chance of extending naps. Don’t work on naps without considering the bigger picture of all your child’s sleep – night sleep needs to be working for naps to work (for suggested sleep quantities by age, visit here).

Even after night sleep has come together, lengthening naps can still be challenging. Night sleep and nap sleep are governed by different parts of the brain. That could mean your child is a champ with nights and a chronically short napper.  Naps are hard for some kids, requiring lots of consistency and patience for them to finally stretch out. Give your little one a chance to practice, but always make sure you’re setting them up for success!

xxoo

Krista

About the author:

KristaGuenther Krista is a mother of 3 (+1 dog who believes she’s people), a wife to a wonderful husband, and the owner and founder of Sleeperific.  Even though she’s been in the sleep consulting biz for 6 years, she still feels excited and honoured when she’s hired by a sleepy family.
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September 8, 2015
Car Seat Naps - What to do and how to avoid them

Studies show that 98% of car naps happen within 500 metres of arriving at your destination.*

(*Made up fact from a non-existent study.  Unless the study was observed by me, from my mini-van, as we’re turning onto our street.)

That same study* indicates 10 minutes of snoozing in the car will replace a 2 hour nap in the crib.

The accidental nap.  The unintentional snooze on-the-go.  Whoops-sleep.  Napcident. Whatever you decide to call it, each car (or stroller) nap presents you with a few options:

1. Continue driving  The earthy (and busy) part of me says forget it. You’re probably a parent who needs to hustle, just like the rest of us.  I need my kids nap times for clean up, meal prep, checking in with clients, etc… not driving aimlessly.

It’s worth noting that not all sleep is created equal.  Motion filled sleep in a car/stroller/carrier is not nearly as restful as quiet, dark, non-moving crib sleep.  Think of the last time you fell asleep in a moving vehicle and how well rested you felt when you awoke?! Quality suffers with naps on-the-go.

2. Park it  Assuming there’s not extreme weather in the winter or summer which would make this inappropriate, you might try parking your vehicle and trying to sustain the nap.  This it isn’t going to work if you have other awake children who need your attention, and it still isn’t going to allow you do much else but wait for your sleeping beauty to awaken (see number 1).

3. Transfer to their crib  This almost never works, except with the soundest of sleepers.

4. Nap Drill  Gently waking the child, any trying for a crib nap again later.

“But what’s a nap drill?”

If the snooze in the stroller or car seat has been under 20 minutes, gently wake your child learn the facts here now.  Have lunch or snack if the timing is appropriate, and then play for at least 30 minutes, trusting you’re still within an hour of when your child would usually begin their nap.  Then move along to their room to go through your usual sleep routine.  We’re trying to build back that “sleep pressure” or fatigue by staying awake for that half hour.

If the nap has been longer than 20 minutes, you may find this little car snooze is a replacement for the nap they were supposed to have in their crib.  Very likely a nap drill will fail.  Simply move up the next nap or ensure bedtime is earlier.

Avoiding Car or Stroller Sleep

No matter how you look at it, this scenario is challenging to manage. Avoid car naps if possible by:

  1. Timing – Avoid trips around nap times, especially within the 30 minutes before nap time.
  2. Engagement – Chat with your baby or child, sing songs, turn up the radio and sing along or make like a tour guide and point out the scenery. Give a small toy or a book  as you’re buckling them in.  A small, minimally messy snack is a great option too.
  3. Automatic Windows – They let in fresh air and wind, but the mysterious opening and closing windows are interesting enough to stay awake.
  4. One more stop – If you notice someone nodding off, do a safe, quick pull over, or see if you can add one more brief errand or stop to your outing. Getting in and out of the car seat might be just enough to encourage more wakeful time.

Are car, stroller or carrier naps occurring every time you head out for a trip?  A child who is fairly well rested and getting an adequate amount of sleep doesn’t nod off in the car or stroller very easily. If your child is prone to unintentional naps-on-the-go, evaluate ways to get more quality sleep into your child’s schedule.

xxoo

Krista

About the author:

KristaGuenther Krista is a mother of 3 (+1 dog who believes she’s people), a wife to a wonderful husband, and the owner and founder of Sleeperific.  Even though she’s been in the sleep consulting biz for 4 years, she still feels excited and honoured when she’s hired by a sleepy family.
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October 29, 2012

Here’s your official reminder: this weekend is the end of daylight savings time (DST).  Don’t worry, it’s the cool time change – the one where we (incredibly!) go back in time.  Not it’s wicked, sleep depriving step-sister, spring ahead.  Before heading to bed on Saturday, put your clocks back one hour.  Or at least adjust the old-fashioned widgets that won’t adjust themselves.

In a past, child-free existence, the end of daylight savings time was an occasion to be celebrated.  Fall Back meant one extra hour dedicated to the guilty pleasure of your choice.  But in your present, kid-centric world, the end of daylight savings time is just one more obstacle to navigate.

Fortunately, Fall Back doesn’t have to be a significant setback.  If your child generally has good sleep habits, is well rested and has shown their ability to go with the flow, don’t be too concerned.  You may not have to do anything ahead of the time change.  Give them a few days, and they’ll adjust.

For parents of children who have proven themselves to be more sensitive in terms of scheduling and sleep, here are a few suggestions to make it easy on them (aka easy on you).

Plan – Start adjusting the week prior to the time change.  For children heading to school, if you can, consider shifting their moring rising, breakfast, dinner, and bedtimes to be 15 minutes later.  For children who are younger than school age, consider shifting their entire schedule (including wake times, eating times, nap(s) and bedtimes) 15 minutes later.  Repeat this incremental shift for the next 3 days.  By the time Sunday rolls around, their little bodies are fully prepared for the adjustment.

Stay on Schedule – Every aspect of the day gives our children an opportunity to know what time it is.  Mealtimes, playtimes, along with wake and bedtimes all offer cues to help our children be prepared and receptive for what’s coming next.  Be mindful and deliberate with the time adjustment as it affects ALL of your daily activities, not just sleep.  Diligently follow your usual routines on the adjusted schedule.

Earlier Bedtimes – On the day of and days following the time change, you may notice that a 7 AM wake time turns into a 6 AM wake time.  Be prepared to compensate with an earlier bedtime (and possibly earlier nap times for the wee ones) to prevent any overtiredness from setting in.

Let There Be Light – The onset of autumn means cooler, shorter days with fewer hours of sunlight.  In the mornings, you’re likely turning on the lights anyway.  As your child is having their breakfast, ensure exposure to a well-lit area of your home.  Try to keep things dark until then.  Build in some time for outdoor play during the day on Sunday as well. This will help naturally regulate circadian rhythms, but exercise will also boost sleep quality and your child’s ability to settle at naps and bedtime.

Admit to yourself that it’s not always going to be perfect.  Don’t sweat it.  Children take some time to adjust and adapt, just like you.  Be patient and consistent while continuing to make sleep a priority for your family.

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August 18, 2012

As a sleep consultant, I always suggest maintaining “Quiet Time” when naps begin to ebb.  It encourages independent play, but it also allows them to rest and even nap if they wish.

As a parent, I NEED Quiet Time.  A few minutes to myself to “regroup” is enough to recharge my parent batteries.

When I can keep my daughter interested in something interesting, quiet time is much more successful.

Felt boards are fun and quiet.  It’s a great way to foster imaginative play.  We have super girlie and very pink/purple ballerinas.  There are lots of options from Creatology, which they carry at Michaels.  We always seem to get flyers that include coupons for 40% off (check the front of the store for flyers, or if you can’t find one, I believe you can join a email list and they’ll offer you the deal).

There are a tonne of options available from Etsy as well!

 

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