My 15-month-old will return to daycare full time this fall after being home with me most days this summer. (She goes once a week so she doesn't forget about it.) She goes to a home daycare where other kids range from infant to preschool. Generally, I love the daycare. But (there's always a but, isn't there?) because the kids are at so many different stages, they have very different nap needs and the stars rarely align for a quiet nap time. I'm worried that my daughter won't take the naps she needs.
Early in the summer, we had a great nap schedule. She would act tired and be willing to nurse to sleep around noon, then nap for 2 hours. Then we went on a vacation to a different time zone, and the schedule was messed up. She has been resisting napping. Some days she takes a very short nap (1/2 hour) at a reasonable time, other days she resists as long as she can, then succumbs to a nap late in the afternoon. She gets up 12 to 13 hours after going to bed, but wakes multiple times overnight.
How can we encourage good napping? If she won't take good naps at daycare, how do we compensate?
From: TeacherMom, Metro Boston
The typical 15-month-old needs between about 1 1/2 to 2 hours of daytime sleep so it sounds like she's in that range. That she's given up the morning nap is also typical for this age. Naptime, as it sounds like you know, is most easily achieved when there is a predictable routine, a sequence of activities at the same time each day that lead to the nap. Even in a family setting with mixed ages, it's typical for there to be a quiet time (at least 15 mins) where all kids are on their cots or mats, looking at a book, cuddling with a stuffed animal, etc. Some may not fall asleep, but others will. In fact, she may fight sleep at first if she thinks she's missing out on something fun, but when she sees that everyone has to be on the mat/cot, and if she's tired, she will likely sleep. If the caregiver doesn't have a quiet time policy, can you suggest that she try it?
When nap is missed, of course, she may get cranky and have a harder time settling down at night; being over-tired makes it harder for a child to fall asleep. For those nights, the best compensation is to allow for her to be able to sleep longer. That means starting the bedtime routine earlier than usual. FYI, Richard Ferber's book, "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, second edition," continues to be my favorite resource for sleep issues.
I'd love to see some comments from family care givers about how they handle naptime.
The author is solely responsible for the content.