Transitioning Your Toddler from Nap Time to Quiet Time
Close your eyes and imagine with me..
It’s 1 o’clock in the afternoon and your 3 1/2 year old has just had lunch. You’ve had a busy morning and now your toddler is asking for his blankie and nap.
You have emails to catch up on and a ton of laundry to do.
It is that glorious time of day… That’s right nap time!
I think we can all agree that nap time is wonderful for your toddler but also for you. It’s likely that your toddler at this age gives you a solid 2 to 3 hour nap.
Fast forward a couple hours and you are now trying to put your toddler to bed at his normal 8 o’clock bedtime. You go through the routine and lay him down and notice that he is still not asleep an hour later. He is rolling around talking to himself, not crying but simply not falling asleep. You check back at 9:30 and it’s still the same thing. You wonder what on earth is going on… Finally at 10:15 you notice that your toddler has fallen asleep.
In the world of toddler sleep this is a sure sign that your child is ready to drop his nap. Cue the soundtrack from a horror movie.
Yes that’s a little dramatic, but dropping a nap can be a disappointing and daunting transition to make. A sure sign that your little one needs to drop their nap is that it is simply taking them far too long to fall asleep.
So what can you do?
Your little one still needs downtime during the day, you need to have downtime during the day, and you also don’t want bedtime to now be pushed back to 10 PM.
This is a great time to introduce quiet time. It isn’t always an easy transition to make, but I am here to help!
Quiet time should take place at the same time that your little one would nap. I’m sure you’re wondering how you will possibly make the adjustment from sleeping at this time to having quiet time independently in your little one’s room.
Here are four steps to help make this transition relatively easy.
#1 Set Clear Expectations
It is very important that your little one knows exactly how quiet time should go. You can even turn it into a game where you act out different scenarios asking your child what is appropriate for quiet time. For example… “do you dance around the room at quiet time?”… “Do you color in a special coloring book”… “Pretend to be a loud farm animal”… “Line up all your favorite dinosaurs?” At this age your little one will probably think it is fun to say what is or isn’t ok to do, and will definitely understand what activities are appropriate.
#2 Have a Visual Timer
It is a great idea to make the nominal investment into a visual clock timer. This will allow your child to see how much time is left for quiet time. At this age you can’t say quiet time is 30 minutes, and expect your child to understand. Having a timer as pictured here (link provided) will allow your child to fully understand how much time is left.
#3 Start Small
When you are starting to make this transition start small. It isn’t realistic to expect your 3 year old to start having 2 hour quiet time right from the beginning. Start with 15 or 20 min and work your way up.
#4 Quiet Time Toys
Help your little one accept this transition by having special toys that are just for quiet time. You want your little one to look forward to quiet time and having a special basket of different coloring books or stuffed animals will help keep your child happy and busy. Only offer these toys at quiet time and I suggest changing up the toys every week or so to avoid your little one getting bored of the toys. Keep it fresh!
Following these 4 steps will help you make this transition and in no time your little one will be looking forward to having ideally a 1-2 hour quiet time every afternoon.
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Your Sleep Bestie,
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I help you harness the power of sleep training to improve the spirits and lives of you and your family through proper rest. I’d love to talk to you about your little one and help you get back to living life well rested! ❤️