You love your daycare job. You love your toddlers. But you don’t love the naptime drama that happens every day.
Here are some tried and tested methods to help toddlers get a nap at daycare even if they don’t want to:
- Tiring activities. Do some active play indoors before nap time.
- A full stomach. A hungry toddler will be too cranky to nap. Avoid sugary snacks before nap time because they can make it harder for toddler to fall asleep.
- A dark, quiet environment. Use blackout curtains or blinds to block out light, and turn off any noisy toys or electronics nearby nap area.
- A familiar routine. Try to establish a regular nap routine for your toddler. This could include reading a story or playing a lullaby.
- Patience. Be patient and consistent with your efforts. Don’t force toddlers to sleep as it can make them more cranky.
In this article you’ll learn common signs that make toddlers avoid nap and solutions to induce sleep in toddlers as per your schedule without losing your mind!
8 Common Issues & Solutions to Get Toddler to Nap at Daycare
It can be difficult for some toddlers to nap at daycare, and one awake child can also disturb the nap time of other kids.
The best way to address this problem is to identify why the toddler resists naps and choose appropriate solutions.
Here are some common reasons why toddlers may struggle to nap at daycare and ways to help them:
1. They are Not Used to the Environment.
Transitioning to daycare can be stressful for some children. A child can get uncomfortable napping in an unfamiliar environment for several reasons.
To make them comfortable, use familiar items like their blanket or favorite toy during nap time.
Also, let the child pick a spot they feel comfortable in and spend some extra time with them before naptime to help them settle down.
2. They are Overstimulated
Daycare can be busy and noisy, with many activities and other children around. It is gonna be hard for toddlers to wind down and sleep when there is so much going on.
You can help them take a nap by creating a calm and quiet naptime routine, such as reading a story, dimming the lights, and playing soft music. Also, limit the number of children in each nap room or separate them by age and sleep needs.
Avoid moving in and out nap room to avoid disrupting the child’s sleep.
You might also want to read: Does Daycare Affect Sleep?
3. They are Curious About New Environment
Toddlers are curious and independent, which can make them reluctant to take a nap.
If a toddler is new to your daycare, they may want to explore instead of taking a nap. It’s important to respect their preferences and not force them to nap if they’re not ready.
At first, allow them to sleep at their preferred time for one or two weeks.
Eventually, the excitement and curiosity of a new place would reside, and you can then gradually adjust your toddler’s nap schedule to match your daycare routine.
You might also want to read: Nap Room Ideas for Daycare
4. They are not Tired Enough
If the toddler has slept too much at night or has a late or long morning nap, they may not be ready for an afternoon nap at daycare.
You can help them by asking parents to adjust their sleep schedule at home.
Waking them up earlier in the morning, shortening or skipping their morning nap, and ensuring they get enough physical activity during the day can help with their nap routine in daycare.
Also, follow a consistent nap schedule for the children based on their age and developmental stage.
5. They are Too Tired
When a toddler is overly stimulated, their body goes into fight-or-flight mode, releasing a hormone called cortisol that helps them stay alert.
This might make the toddler feel irritated and cranky, causing them to need more attention and care during nap time.
Monitor the children’s sleep cues, such as yawning, rubbing their eyes, or becoming cranky, and put them down for a nap when they show tiredness.
Ensure they have a comfortable and cozy sleeping environment, such as a cot or a mat, a pillow and a blanket, and a low temperature and noise level.
6. They are Hungry or Thirsty
An empty tummy teaches you the best lessons! well, for toddlers, it teaches caregivers and parents the best lessons.
When toddlers don’t eat well before a nap, they may have trouble falling asleep and become fussy. These eating and sleeping issues are often connected.
Put yourself in their shoes; you wouldn’t feel like sleeping or eating if you were hungry and tired.
Provide the child with a healthy snack and drink before their nap, such as a banana and milk, and avoid sugary or spicy foods that may cause indigestion.
Also, keep them hydrated and avoid giving them any snacks or drinks that may interfere with their sleep.
7. They are Outgrowing Naps
Some toddlers may stop napping altogether between the ages of 2 and 5, depending on their individual sleep needs and temperament.
If a child is getting enough sleep at night, seems rested during the day, and does not show signs of behavioral problems in the afternoon or evening, they may be ready to drop naps completely.
You can help them by reducing the length of their naps or replacing them with quiet time activities, such as reading or coloring while other kids are asleep.
8. They are Teething or Potty Training
Toddlers who are teething or potty training may resist taking a nap due to discomfort .
Provide them with teething toys or comfort items, such as a favorite stuffed animal, to help ease their discomfort.
Also, check for signs of diarrhea and other bowel issues related to potty training that may disrupt their sleep.
If the issue persists, you can consult your pediatrician for advice.
7 Toddler Nap Time Ideas for Daycare
1. Utilize Visual Cues
Toddlers are visual learners, so using pictures can help them understand and remember the nap time routine. Use a chart or poster with images to remind them of their nap expectations.
2. Have a Bedtime Story Session
To help the toddlers relax and get ready for naptime, consider doing a short story session before they sleep. Or let them listen to some lullaby.
This will help them associate the story or sound with naptime and get into a sleepy mood.
3. Create a Sleep-Inducing Atmosphere
Creating an atmosphere conducive to sleeping is key for nap time success in daycare. Make sure the room is comfortable, quiet, and dim.
Remove any distractions from the nap area.
4. Sleep Food
Opt for before-nap snacks that can help toddler to sleep in daycare. These snacks can be as simple as warm milk, yogurt, nuts, or cheese slices.
5. Physical Activity
Make sure that toddlers in daycare have enough physical activity during the day. This will help them to expend their energy and be more exhausted by nap time.
6. Lovey and Blanket
Having a special lovey or blanket to cuddle with can help toddlers relax and make them feel safe when napping in daycare.
You might also want to read: Best Blankets for Daycare
7. Toddler’s Nap Time Job
You can make nap time more interesting by giving them a job. For example, you can ask the toddlers to count sheep or name different colors while they are trying to fall asleep.
This way, they’ll be distracted from the fact that they are in bed and will get used to their routine more quickly.
4 Tips for Forming a Schedule (Ask Parents for Help)
To ensure everyone is on the same page with nap times and routines, it’s important to ask parents for help.
Parents can provide you with information about their child’s sleep habits and needs so that you can create a consistent schedule and ensure that their toddler gets the rest they need.
- Discuss consistent nighttime sleep routine with parents.
- Ask parents to avoid bringing in sleepy toddlers to daycare.
- Ask parents to refrain from sending snacks to daycare that could potentially disrupt the sleep of toddlers.
- Ask them to bring along their kid’s favorite blanket, lovey or pillow.
Healthy Nap Schedule for Different Age Groups
- Infants (Birth to 1 Year): An infant should nap between 2 and 4 times a day, with total sleep ranging from 10-18 hours.
- Toddlers (1 to 3 Years): Toddlers need about 12-14 hours of sleep per day, including naps, which can range from one to two naps that last 1-2 each.
- Preschoolers (3 to 5 Years): Preschool-aged children should nap once a day and have 11-12 hours of total sleep per day.
You might also want to read: Best Nap Mats for Daycare
Frequently Asked Questions
How to get an autistic child to nap at daycare?
Autistic children may have difficulty napping in daycare due to sensory or other processing issues. To help them sleep, you can create a quiet environment free of distractions and provide appropriate comfort items. Additionally, you can ask the parents for advice on how to help their child relax and get into a nap routine.
Will daycare help my baby nap?
At daycare, your baby will be in a structured environment where other babies are also napping. This can help to establish a routine and create an environment conducive to sleeping. Additionally, staff members may be able to provide comforting cues to help your child fall asleep.
Where do toddlers nap at daycare?
Toddlers typically nap in an area designated for sleeping. Individual mats are provided to each toddler along with their own bedding and blanket.
Where do babies sleep at daycare?
Babies typically sleep in a crib or bassinet designated just for them. Their nap area is away from any loud noises and distractions, and have comfortable bedding and blankets to make sure your baby is cozy and safe.
Toddlers napping in daycare can be a challenging process. However, with the right steps and support from parents and staff members, you can create an environment that is conducive to sleeping.
Long and short, to encourage toddlers to sleep easily, remember these steps:
- Maintain a consistent daily routine.
- Tire them out before their nap.
- Limit their sugar before nap time.
- Ensure they sleep in the same place.
- Provide a calming sleep environment.