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No Nonsense Naptime for Toddlers #GuestPost

If you are regular reader of my blog you may have remembered that one of my toddler new year resolution was to take more naps. Well unfortunately for mommy that hasn't happened yet. Mommy remembers when I was younger it was all about naps. I would take them all the time. Now that I'm older and everything is happening around me, how can I ever begin to take a nap? If I do decide to take one I would miss out on so many things. Today I have a guest post from Diana Julian who is a certified child sleep consultant at Big Sky Lullaby. Mommy and I didn't have the slightest idea that infant sleep consultants existed. Well she is here today to give  some tips and insights for moms with little ones like me who doesn't like napping. 

While going through the training process to become a Certified Child Sleep Consultant, I learned that bedtime is non-negotiable; naptime should be treated the same way. I often have clients who tell me that their toddler decided they do not want to nap anymore. My response to them is that as the parent, you decide when naps will end, not your child. Inconsistencies are a part of parenthood. However, a regular routine is a different story. Once a child has their normal schedule ironed out, this is when exceptions can be made and once in a while a nap can be skipped for a special occasion.

Let’s get the scientific facts out of the way. Infants nap throughout the day and there is a reason for this. Naps effect night sleep and vice versa. Think of naps as part of the 24 hour daily sleep cycle. When a child outgrows the infant stage and becomes a toddler, this doesn’t change. Naptime remains an important piece of the sleeping puzzle. Naps allow the body and mind to rest and provide both mental and physical restoration. The benefits to a healthy sleep routine are endless. A child with a regular naptime and bedtime, based on biological sleep waves will be focused, happy, and of course, rested. What we have learned through studies and research in just the past few years is that healthy sleep as a child, has an impact on our adult behavior and cognitive ability, as well as our concentration and mood.

If you are a parent reading this blog and wondering if your child should still be napping, I encourage you to ask yourself this; “What is my child’s behavior like at the end of the day?” We often hear parents make remarks about their child acting cranky, stubborn or having behavior issues and they attribute it to their child being tired. This is not the case for a rested child. Appropriate behavior is exhibited by a child who is getting adequate amounts of sleep, both day and night. Cranky behavior is not just something to brush off, as a parent we need to figure out the cause behind it.

One of my philosophies about child sleep is that parents need to enter into each developmental stage as prepared as possible so that they don’t have to go back and correct behavior. This is a perfect example of why; “Over many weeks or months, your child develops ‘cumulative sleepiness’ until he hits a wall and becomes overtired. In this state, it is difficult for him to nap because his body is geared up to fight the fatigue.” If you do not give your child the option to skip a nap, then you will not have to figure out how to get them to start napping again. “There are good naps and bad naps. Occasional nap strikes may not be harmful but nap-stubborn kids are usually overtired.”

My intentions are not to scare parents with toddlers who do not nap, or to make them feel guilty or as though they are an inadequate parent. My intention is to give them the facts so that they can understand that sleep needs to be one of the highest priorities of parenting.  “Small but constant deficits in sleep over time tend to have escalating and perhaps long-term effects on brain function.”  Parents of toddlers who give in to their child’s refusal to nap are not intentionally delaying their mental and physical development. Parents do not influence negative sleep habits on purpose. That’s where I come in, part of my job is to educate parents on the benefits of a healthy sleep schedule so that they understand why and how sleep positively influences their child today and in the future.

I really can’t emphasize enough how important a consistent nap routine is for a toddler. Sleep Inertia experience by a child is just one result of disturbed sleep. It can be explained as the intermittent state where sleep and wakefulness overlap. This overlap state is uncomfortable for children and causes disorientation as well as physical pain. Parents are often confused when their child wakes from an extra-long nap unhappy. The simple answer is your child has been missing too much sleep. Also, if you are experiencing a child who is “wired” and not able to entertain themselves, it is because the high cortisol levels produced in their body after missing a sleep period makes the child too tired to nap. “A sign of sleeping well is a calm and alert state. Upon awakening, well rested children are in good cheer and able to play by themselves.”

I would like to thank the lovely Miss Madison for the opportunity to make a guest appearance on her blog. As this post is coming to an end I leave you with one thought, “It is simply not true that children who miss naps will “make up” for it by sleeping more at night. In fact the sleep they miss is gone forever.”

Diana Julian is Montana’s one and only infant sleep consultant. She has been blessed to work with children for over ten years and her education and life experiences has influenced her to be an avid child health enthusiast and now certified sleep expert. She owns the company Big Sky Lullaby and can be contacted via email: or at telephone number 406-431-7240.

Weissbluth, Marc. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: A Step-by-step Program for a Good Night’s Sleep. New York: Ballantine Books, 2005

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Annmarie John
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  1. She's precious. When my oldest two got to the point that they didn't want to sleep, I made their naptime quiet time. Mommy needs quiet time. LOL

  2. How adorable! Thankfully, my youngest is still napping!

  3. When my kids started to give up their naps I couldn't handle it! I needed that downtime for myself.

  4. Very cute pic! If only they knew how much Mom looks forward to Nap Time :)

  5. Amanda,

    This is a lovely post. I struggle with naptime with my 21 month old. I guess I got tired of fighting with her and kinda let her wear her self out and watch her crash. Its the same way when it comes to bedtime. I don't fight with her anymore, I just kinda let it happen. It works for me nonetheless.

  6. My daughter has never slept as much as she should. She's in her twenties and still doesn't! My son was the opposite and was always ready for his afternoon nap.

  7. Okay, she's cute. Every kid is different. My son napped till he went to school. My daughter stopped at 18 months.

  8. How interesting that we can make the calls. I'm sure you hear ALL THE TIME people say, "Well he/she gave up napping and that was that." I don't think anyone really ever thinks to change that.
    My son is a good, consistent napper at 19 months. Hoping it lasts awhile as is!

  9. Your wee one is so cute. I have never heard of a sleep consultant. Interesting.

  10. My daughter napped until she was 4 because my mother told me she would nap until I told her she didn't have to nap any more. The good part: she's a great sleeper! The better part, I got some rest, too! I hope your beautiful little one naps every day because it's good for both of you!

  11. This is a great post... I have always been very stern about naps and schedules, as I have seen the difference in my children on days that their schedules are interrupted. I got into an argument with another mom years ago when she wanted me to attend a play date at my little ones nap time, she said, oh just have her skip the nap and put her to bed earlier... I was like, um... if she skips her nap, not only is my afternoon a mess, but she WON'T go to bed earlier because she will be so over-tired! HA

  12. What great advice!! I am a firm believer in naps....even for myself!!!

  13. So sweet! My son didn't do well at all unless he was on a good napping schedule.

  14. omg you do.not.mess.with.naps.


  15. Great guest post! Naps are wonderful for energy for both the mom and the baby!

  16. She is soooo beautiful!! My little girl still naps most days but every once in a while she won't and gets so crabby!

  17. Awesome post and what a cutie. I so agree with what she said. There are times I send my 6 and 8 year old up for naps when they are getting fussy in the middle of the day!

  18. I had no idea that there were infant sleep consultants around. I agree that all little kids should take naps. I know when my little nephew doesn't take one he is cranky throughout the day. Even adults when they don't get enough sleep it affects them. Great post!

  19. I struggle with naptime for my toddler, he refuses and so he falls asleep early at night then wakes up and will not go back to sleep till late! UGH!

  20. Your baby is just precious! Naptime was hard for my first but easier for my second : )

  21. Oh, naps. How I love them. My 4yo struggles with napping now, but he always feels so much better when he does! The problem I have now is how to handle one napping child and one who does not. It's tough!

  22. Thank you so much for this! I have always felt that I should just let my children nap whenever they desire to, though I have had days where I get anxious wondering that if they nap, will they be up all night? Of course at times this has happened - but very rarely. One of my very favorite things in the world is to curl up and nap with my babies :)

  23. I wish my daughter still napped. She stopped napping around 2 years old.

  24. Oh how I used to enjoy the naps. She out grew them far too quickly. Nothing better than snuggling up on a wet afternoon in front of the tv with your children.


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