Parenting a toddler can be trying, exhausting, intense, crazy and so fun.  I absolutely love the toddler stage, but after answering thousands of questions, doing six puzzles, trying to bake something together, I look forward to the sweet time just after lunch where I know we will both get a break to recharge. But what if that time is not so sweet, and instead exhaustive naptime battles pursue?

Toddlers do everything full speed and full energy.  They play hard, fight dramatically and love big and they need that naptime every bit or more than you do.  Unfortunately, for many parents trying to sell a nap seems far more work than what it is worth, leaving parents and the child exhausted and frustrated.

So how do you avoid the naptime battles? Here are four steps you can try.


4 Steps to Avoid Naptime Battles

naptime battles

Use Positive Sleep Language

Your child is old enough that you can start teaching them why sleep is essential.  It is vital for them to grow big and strong.  It is important because it will give them enough energy to do all the fun things they like to do, etc.  Avoid associating sleep with punishment.  Don’t use the threat of a nap to punish them if they are misbehaving.  Sleep is something they need to thrive; it is not punishment!

Make Naptime Non-Negotiable

Naptime battles

If your child thinks they might be able to wiggle out of a nap if they protest long and loud enough, naptime will become a huge battle!  Don’t get into an argument about naptime or a back and forth.

Toddlers are adorable, but they are impossible to reason with.  If your child says they do not want to have a nap and you reply that they have to because it is important for their development, they will never see your side and concede.  Instead, ignore their protest and move them on to the next part of moving the nap forward.  A great way to do this is to offer an appropriate choice instead.  It distracts them and gives them some appropriate control.  So, they say, “But I do not want to have a nap.”  You can reply, “It is time to choose the stuffie you want to take with you for your nap.  Do you want this one or that one?”

Watch Your Tone

If you are in a naptime struggle or trying to establish naptime routines and boundaries, keep your tone matter of fact and even.  If you are frustrated, try to stifle it.  Having an even tone conveys that naptime is just something that you expect, it is no big deal.

To make it easier for your child to fall asleep and stay asleep longer, keep their room super dark for naps.  Blackout blinds are great for keeping out that daytime sun.

Respect and Protect Your Child’s Naptime as Much as Possible

naptime battles

While there will be days that you cannot be home for a nap here and there, it should be the exception, rather than the other way around.  Even if your child can sleep well in the car or stroller, the quality will not be as great as if they were sleeping at home in their bed or crib.  While it can be inconvenient, a well-slept toddler is much more enjoyable to be around and to parent.  

Healthy, adequate sleep for toddlers is as imperative for their growth and development as eating a well-balanced diet.  At its peak, a toddler’s brain may be making 2 million synapses per second!  This is how many learning connections and associations your child’s brain is making.  It is no wonder they need rest.  

Creating firm, loving, expectations and boundaries around naptime will ensure your toddler will get that break they need and will eliminate the naptime battle.

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Teresa Johnson

Sleep is key for my children to thrive, for my marriage, and for me to be the best Mom to my boys!

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