In the past our daughter has always been a good napper. However, since turning one and starting daycare of couple of things have happened. She started transitioning from two naps to one, which interrupted her routine (as did being in daycare as expected), and she had a lengthy bout of teething over the past month and a half or so. Afternoon naps have become unpredictable at best. Sometimes she would refuse to sleep, or they would be really short and most weekends she would be miserable for most of the afternoon due to exhaustion.

The past couple of weeks things with her teeth have finally settled and the daycare worker (it's one woman, a home daycare) has said that she has been consistently napping for 1.5 to 2 hours in the afternoon. Part of me things that the high activity level at daycare (they are out and about every morning and there are other children to provide stimulation) has helped with sleep.

At home it's a different story. For the past two weekends I try to keep her busy in the morning and put her down around her usual time (sometimes it's a bit earlier as I can tell she's getting tired). She will initially lie down, and then within about 5-10 minutes she starts to cry, and soon turns into screaming. When I go to get her she's standing in her crib. Exhausted last Saturday I picked her up and cuddled her on the couch and she instantly fell asleep in my arms. Afterwards I can put her back in her crib and she'll usually have a normal nap. Now three weekend days later, this has become a routine for her.

So my questions for those who may have experienced something like this are

1) Is this a bad idea? Will she never go down for naps normally again?

2) How do I change this routine?

I can navigate the literature and know there are studies on both sides. What I am really looking for is experience and suggestions here.

asked 14 Dec '09, 02:28

Tammy's gravatar image

Tammy ♦♦
accept rate: 18%

I think Sabrina and Dreamerisme make good points, so I will just share my own experience with you

Is this a bad idea? Will she never go down for naps normally again?

I honestly do not think that it is a such bad idea to hold your child prior to her falling asleep particularly if she falls asleep so quickly, and especially if you are not a "stay at home mum". We had similar experiences with our daughter, during her time at nursery and I recall the creche teacher telling us that;

"no matter how much the children enjoyed the routine of playing and being in the nursery enviroment, children from 1 year through to 4 years more often than not, greatly missed their parents.

This really made sense for us at that time. We were dropping her off in the morning and picking her up at 17.30-18.00 in the early evening. As an answer to the second part of your question, I think with time it will, but gradually. When she gets older, and requires less sleep, you may find similar issues with napping again.

How do I change this routine?

The 30 minutes leading up to nap time we really made an effort to get outside for some fresh air, or playing something together.

We made a point of not passing a certain time with regards to napping, because overtiredness added more frustration and confusion on her part. Then after a mini version of the bathtime ritual she would fall asleep in my arms,this took place several times, this then progressed to one of us just being near her, holding her hand and/or stroking her cheek. This became our routine and to be really frank I felt like it was what I should be doing, rather than fighting it.


answered 14 Dec '09, 16:13

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accept rate: 19%

edited 16 Dec '09, 20:51

Meg%20Stephenson's gravatar image

Meg Stephenson

Thanks, I feel a little less guilty. Funny I felt guilty if I let her cry and didn't hold her and then guilty when I held her to help her fall asleep. I guess us moms need to give ourselves a break sometime.

(14 Dec '09, 22:23) Tammy ♦♦

Tammy, I know exactly what you mean! Guilty if you do, guilty if you don't...why do we mothers do this to ourselves??

(30 Dec '10, 00:11) Emily

I don't have experience with day care, but my son did change his nap routine a few months ago. All of a sudden he didn't want to take a nap as usual. I think it was because although he was tired he was too distracted with his toys to want to leave them. We finally decided to put a rocking chair in his room and play music. I would either rock him for 1-2 min or just stand in his room for a minute or so until his body was relaxed and his mind had transitioned from "play time" to "nap time."

That said, I think it's possible to establish new routines by finding something that will trigger "nap time" for her in her room. Good luck :)


answered 14 Dec '09, 05:13

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accept rate: 21%

+1 for waiting for the relaxed moment. You really can sense it when they just relax.

(14 Dec '09, 16:20) Emi

Thanks, It is a good idea to calm her down in her room first. I will try that next time.

(14 Dec '09, 22:20) Tammy ♦♦

I ended up taking her to her room 10 minutes before her nap and sitting in the rocking chair to read her book. We've also changed from reading to her in her room instead of in the living room at bedtime. It has really worked wonders!

(20 Dec '09, 02:35) Tammy ♦♦

Really? That's so great! :)

(28 Dec '09, 08:38) Sabrina

Kids change significantly over time at this age. When my children have done this, I suspect they feel some abandonment, and take the time to cuddle with them and let them fall asleep on me.

However, when this extra cuddling is something I can't do for whatever reason, I use a progressive approach to training them to go to sleep by themselves.

How do I change this routine?

Once we've determined that this is going to happen every time (ie, we can't modify eating, playing, quiet time, and other schedules to change the behavior) then I go ahead and start bedtime holding him until he falls asleep - but this will occur in his room. After a few days I'll hold him briefly, then put him in bed, and either rub his back, sing, or otherwise comfort him physically until asleep. Eventually I'll just put him to bed without any particular physical attention, and stay in the room (lay on floor, or sit in chair) reading or doing some other quiet activity that does make some noise until asleep.

After a few more days I'll put him in bed, and move myself out to the hallway where he can see and hear me, and then down the hallway where he can only hear me. You do have to deal with chattiness depending on age, and for some time afterwards you'll need to be near enough that when they call you, you'll be able to answer verbally immediately - it reassures them that you're around.

While we've tried cry-it-out for some things, we avoid them when possible. This method takes a lot of work, but it worked well for us.

Note that our schedule might not be as tightly regulated as yours, and also I've used this method mainly for sleeping at night, rather than for nap during the day. But it has affected (positively) how they nap during the day as well.

Even though they are young, we'll point out to them that they look sleepy, and tell them why they look tired, and suggest they go to sleep. As they get older some of them actually picked up on that and as 2-4 year old will actually put themselves to sleep. Helping them recognize the signs of tiredness has made it easier to put them down for a nap.


answered 14 Dec '09, 16:58

Adam%20Davis's gravatar image

Adam Davis
accept rate: 31%

+1 for the progressive approach.

(16 Dec '09, 20:52) Meg Stephenson

We just went through the exact same thing - in fact we are still adjusting. What has worked for us is to try and stay as consistant at home on the weekends as possible with what is going on at daycare during the week. What might help is to talk to your daycare provider and find out exactly how she puts your child down for naps and do the same. I know its tough when they cry on the weekends and as parents we are more likely to coddle them out of guilt or a desire for affection but its counter productive for the child. We found our daughter to be a lot more clingy when she gets home to us and I find it tough to be firm but I have to. I have been in close contact with our daycare teachers and have adapted a few things at home to make the transition easier for our child. We have changed sippy cups to the ones at daycare, we keep the same nap times, we have begun feeding her like they do at daycare with adult spoons, etc. The continuity has helped ease her confusion and she seems much happier. I should also add that the daycare teachers find this really helpful as we all work together, they don't have to spend at much time consoling, empasizing their routines or repeating themselves. Hope it gets easier for you.


answered 14 Dec '09, 03:30

dreamerisme's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%

+1 for collaborating with daycare teachers.

(14 Dec '09, 16:57) Emi

Those are some good suggestions. We have made sure she has the same sippy cup and blanket at daycare but I think part of the problem is that our daycare worker puts her down more when she notices she's tired (which is a good thing) but that's not always at the same time. When we started I told her how I put her down, I haven't asked if she's changed this. Thanks I will do that next time.

(14 Dec '09, 22:20) Tammy ♦♦
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Asked: 14 Dec '09, 02:28

Seen: 3,477 times

Last updated: 16 Dec '09, 20:51