Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Two Year Old Doesn't Nap

What's a mom to do? My two year old will go upstairs, read a book, rock and climb into bed at nap time, but she doesn't go to sleep. She'll climb out of bed, grab a book and climb back in. You can hear her read her books, which is just too cute for me. Then, it will get quiet and I will think aha, finally, sleep. Only to be followed a few minutes later with a crash. Something has fallen, I being the worried mom of course head upstairs to see what happened. She's sitting on her floor playing with something and looks up at me and says, I woke up! I try to explain that in order to wake up, you must first go to sleep. When I suggest we rock or climb into bed, she'll tell me "I'm done".

I find myself running errands some days, just because I know that 5 minutes in the car will put her to sleep and if I hang out in the car for a while, she will at least get some semblance of a nap. To me, the fact that she falls asleep in the car means that she is still needing a nap - she's just not able to resist it there.

They tell me a similar tale at school, it takes her about 45 minutes to fall asleep at nap time. Of course there, she has no choice but to lie on her cot until she ultimately gives in. All the kids are doing it.

With my son, we eventually had to stop calling it a nap, he simply didn't want to nap. We would call it time to recharge. This worked. We always said, you don't have to sleep, just recharge. Invariably, he would fall asleep 5 - 10 minutes later.

How do you get your reluctant kid to stay in bed long enough to fall asleep? I don't want to stay in her room with her and rock her or pat her bottom long enough for her to fall asleep, but I'm starting to think that is my only option.

Can you help others? Head over to We Are THAT Family for a backwards edition of Works for Me Wednesday and see what dilemmas others are facing.


Jodi said...

I don't know, because I have the same problem with my 2 year old! I've tried to switch her to "quiet time" and get her to just play quietly in her room, but that's not working too well, either. I *can* rock her to sleep, but it'll take an hour (literally) and that's just not worth it. I wish I had something to help you!

Superchikk said...

The Sleepeasy Solution is a great book that has some awesome practical tips on helping kids stay in the bed. Actually, they address all types of sleep issues for all ages. It's worth a shot! Check out their website at

Good luck!

Dawn @ simply transparent said...

Hi there..I'm a mom of 3..naps are my "forte" I have them down because of one word..constitency.

Sounds like your in a pattern..she knows this and so it seems doesn't understand you "mean what you say and say what you mean" ..

Before nap time/rest time I'd explain "the plan"
clean up
read a book

(or whatever you do to gear up for it)
in this order and then only repeat each step.

You don't want to have a conversation when your giving direction. it confuses the subject.

Be consistent.
Tell her only what she needs to know and then she will know what she is supposed to do.

If you have to..stand outside the door until you know she is doing what you said.

When she gets up ..go place her back in bed
say "nap time"

nothing else.

next time say nothing..
eventually she will catch on and know what's exspected.

This is what works for me and my three.

hope you soon get your "free time"..goodluck!

megret7 said...

I agree; be consistent. I've found that our 2-1/2 year goes through bouts of not napping...but then she'll nap beautifully for 2 weeks at a time. It's a rule that she has to stay in her bed; I give her a few books, dim her room, put on a noise-reducing fan and close her door. Even if she doesn't always "sleep," quiet time away from her brother sometimes helps her make it through the afternoon.

If she doesn't nap, too, we also move her nightly bedtime up 30 minutes earlier.

Hope this helps.

Berji's domain said...

My 27month old ALWAYS has "nap time". She doesn't always nap, but she always goes down for 2hrs in the afternoon. She is not allowed to get off the bed, play with toys or read books. She does have her "friends" (stuffed animals) with her, and tells them stories. - It is really cute to listen to. :) Some days she sleeps, but it seems more rare that she doesn't. But she still knows it is nap time, and when she needs the rest she sleeps. Hope you find something that works!

Larissa Smith said...

Try developing a sleep trigger for her. For us, it is reading and singing. For every naptime and bedtime, we read books cuddled up on the bed, then tuck her in with blankets and sing a couple of songs. "Jesus Loves Me" is the last one and she knows that means it's time to sleep and Mommy is leaving the room. If she fusses or plays, she gets in trouble. It sounds harsh, but it should only take a few days of enforcement for her to adjust to the new idea. Just don't let her win!

Sarah Eliza @ devastateboredom said...

I was totally that child one upon a time! I had trouble falling asleep pretty much through my teens, and only discovered napping really in college.

I'm afraid I don't have any real tips for you... but I turned out to be ADD, and looking back I wouldn't be surprised if that effected my sleeping patterns as a child... really soft instrumental music helps to a degree by occupying my brain just slightly when I'm trying to fall asleep.

MDiskin said...

Maybe there are too many distracting toys in her room that are tempting her? I make my 3yr old stay on the bed and either read or sleep. Quiet is key. Can you wear her out more so that she will be too pooped to play during naptime, or get her up earlier in the morning? I think limiting her space to bed or at least bedroom, and toys to books or stuffed animals, could be a way to set boundaries you both can live with. Setting a timer also helps, I hear -- when a clock radio turns on, the child is allowed to come out, etc.

(My sister had an incorrigible preschooler who would get up at night and run all over the house. She had to sit in the hall with a light on showing her and her spanking spoon (um, not as bad as it sounds) ready for action for a couple of nights to show she meant business. This may not be your style at all but her daughter really responded to nothing else but a spanking, so for her the last resort worked. )