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No-Nonsense Napping Guide for Toddlers

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Don't Sweat Nap Time

Some parents are really uptight about their toddlers napping schedule. "They get carried away and the whole day is centered around the napping schedule," Pelayosays. "If getting your toddler down for a nap is interfering with your life, it's a problem. You have to be flexible. You can always slip in a shorter nap or a later nap."

Shubin agrees: "Nap schedules are more about parents. There aren't rigid guidelines about when and how long a child should nap. Most tables are pure approximations."

Keep Naps Short and Sweet

"If nap is more than one hour and 45 minutes, your kids may wake up cranky," Pelayo says. "Ninety minutes is just right."  

Don't Trade in a Nap for an Earlier Bedtime

This may sound like a good plan, but it doesn't work and may even backfire, Cradock says. "If you keep them up to make them more tired, they will be too restless and unsettled to use the normal self-soothing routines that put them to sleep at night," she says. A better plan is to tweak the nap or nap schedule by shaving off 15 minutes or starting the nap earlier in the day. Later naps are not always the best call because your child needs to get a certain amount of daylight, and napping until its dark may prevent this from occurring, Cradock says.

Use the Same Routine for Napping as Nighttime Sleep

"If you have a good nighttime sleep routine, such as doing something calming or reading a book to your child before bed, you can repeat this ritual for nap time to increase the likelihood of a successful napper," Cradock says. "If at night, you hold and rock your child until they fall asleep and at nap time, you put them in their room and suggest a nap, it's probably not going to happen."

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Reviewed on October 17, 2013
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