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Transition from nap to quiet time
January 2, 2012 3:29 PM   Subscribe

NapFilter. I think that my kid is done napping. How can I set up 'quiet time' for him?

My kid (age 3 years, 2 months) is probably done napping. He won't go down for ANYONE, regardless of the stability/routine/his tiredness/etc.

He has always been tough to get down - needs cuddles, etc. but I'm pretty sure that we're at the end of our rope. It has been about 2 months since he's had more than 1-3 naps each week.

For everyone's sanity I'd like to institute 'quiet time' but want to go about it smartly. (I think that we'll probably keep trying naps for another few months, for what it's worth... I'd really like for him to nap.)

Details:
- Because preschool goes until 1, naps haven't been happening until 2pm. Maybe this is the problem? He wakes up around 7:30-7:45am.
- He sleeps with us at night, but he does have a bedroom (which is used by a neighbor child once a week or so when we host the babysitter). Neither bedroom has any toys in it, but we could out some books.
- He is in the habit of having a parent sit with him until he falls asleep (I know... I know... this is what happens when you have a child while writing a dissertation.) But he did successfully put himself to bed with various sitters.
- He is at another house 1.5 days a week. He is at preschool 3 mornings a week. I put him down in the afternoons ~3 days/week. Dad does weekends.
- We're not cry-it-out people. He is not a cry-it-out kid. I am willing to let him sit in the room while I sit outside the door through.

I envision a framing of 'quiet time' or 'alone time' in which he sits in the bedroom, lights dimmed, with books (I'd prefer that he not sit in there with an iPad, but...) for an hour.

Q1: Any suggestions - on framing or technique?

Q2: Also, should we be putting him to bed earlier? As it stands, he goes to bed at 7:30-8ish (after routine) and wakes up at 7:30-7:45ish. Dad doesn't get home until 6:30, so pushing dinner/bath/stories routine would be a little tough.
posted by k8t to Human Relations (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you sure he isn't napping in preschool?
posted by two lights above the sea at 3:32 PM on January 2, 2012


A trick we used with one of ours (who used to come out of her bedroom at an ungodly hour) was with a little colored lamp on a timer - she could wake up whenever she wanted to, but wasn't allowed to leave her room until 'the butterfly light' lit up. The timer was set for 7, and the lamp was a little stained-glass sort of thing we picked up who-knows-where. One thing you could try is a period of time in the room for as long as the light is lit (or until it comes on) or somesuch.

As a data point, our 3-year-old, doesn't nap at all any more. He goes to bed about the same time as his older brother (they share a room) and he's up at the same time in the morning. There's no way we could get him to take a nap, though a car-ride any time after, say, 1PM is a surefire way to arrive anywhere with A Sleeping Kid.
posted by jquinby at 3:48 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


My daughter stopped napping when she was three. She started going to bed around 7 instead of 8:30 and sleeping until 7 or 8. I'd just push bedtime up a little or encourage later sleeping. Afternoon alone quiet time never really worked, (especially if you're not cry-it-out people) but I've found that lying on the couch together with a stack of books or reading myself on the couch while she plays with toys nearby helps with being able to get a rest myself mid-afternoon.
posted by Margalo Epps at 4:11 PM on January 2, 2012


Preschool is 9am-1pm, no nap.
posted by k8t at 4:12 PM on January 2, 2012


Basically our transition from nap to quite time was to start calling it quiet time, other than that it was the same routine. Which happened somewhere around 2 1/2-3 years old.

I read him one book, and turn the light off and the nightlight on, and if he's being too loud\rowdy\whatever, we just take away whatever he's playing with, but that almost never happens anymore, usually he's just in there looking at his books. You may want to start with board books, we had a couple of incidents where covers got ripped off.

That might be a little problematic if he's used to you staying with him until he's asleep, maybe read him one story with the light on, or in another room and then another with the lights off or something like that, where' there's a clear progression to settled down in a calm environment.

Also, maybe try scheduling something for AFTER his quiet time, something that he doesn't get to do until he's had his quite time and only if he's had quiet time. That way you're rewarding him for being good, and easing the stress of the change.
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:14 PM on January 2, 2012


K8let is going to figure out that you are subbing "quiet time" for the nap time he so despises.

Tell him that now that he is a big boy, he is too big for naps, so he gets to do what the grownups do - read. Stock him with books: tons of picture books, word books, go hit your local thrift store if you do not have an enormous stock already. Then, when it's that time, head him into his bedroom for reading time, and if you can, indulge in some silent reading yourself, too.

Set up his big boy bed with a reading lamp, a special lamp that is only used for reading in bed. Show him how it works, and show him that his bed is a great place to read. Then let him know that you are setting a timer and for one hour (or however long you'd like), and it is time to read since he does not nap anymore. Keep the timer in his room with him so he can watch it if he wants.
posted by juniperesque at 4:42 PM on January 2, 2012


The bad news is....I have not had or seen too success with this (my children are 5 and 7) but I wish you the best!

The good news is....once they become readers, Quiet Afternoon Reading Time is pretty darn awesome.

The years between "regular afternoon nap time years" and "can be expected to play by themselves quietly for a bit" are a kind of rough.

But I'll be keeping an eye on this thread myself; I haven't lost hope and need to write a dissertation as well!
posted by pantarei70 at 4:53 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


My daughter's nine now, but we successfully instituted "cosy resting time" when she was about three, and have--miraculously--mostly managed to hang on to it. Initially it was brief--thirty minutes or an hour--and it was presented as "You're old enough that you don't need to nap, but everyone needs time to themselves, quiet time where they can read or daydream or nap or count their toes for an hour." So we'd get her set with books or dolls or whatever, and we'd set an alarm for [x time], and then we'd close her door.

I think that part of why it worked for us is because we weren't doing anything else in the house at that time--the grownups would also go to their room/s and rest quietly. If you're doing other things in the house, the child will hear you clattering around and doing dishes and whatever, and that will almost certainly sound more interesting that being alone in their room. If you can make this a quiet resting period for everyone, I think that you're in for a better run of it.

Finally, depending on how comfortable you are with this sort of thing, you might consider putting some sort of video on--not a cartoon, but, say one of those aquarium videos, or a fireplace one, or the nature things with Grand Scenic Vistas that they show in hospitals. Consider letting them have some sort of (quiet) music, as well. It's distracting and soothing and makes them feel less isolated/alone, which was a big issue for my daughter when we started doing this.
posted by MeghanC at 6:29 PM on January 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


I must be the horrible mommy in the room, because I stick my 39 month old in her room with books, toys and the ("her" she says) iPad and set the timer for 1 hour. The timer used to be in the room with her until she started turning it off, now I set it outside her door. I give her a quick kiss and tell her to come out when the timer goes off. I call it quiet time and have had no resistance at all, though the nap word is sure to cause a ruckus.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:14 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just checked Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems (excellent, if you don't have it) and it says that a three-year old needs about 11 hours and 15 minutes of sleep in a day, so could it be that he's getting too much sleep at night to really need a nap during the day? I only have a 16 month old, so I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about with three-year old. But I've had to cut back her night sleep to 10 or 11 hours to keep her daytime nap and prevent crazy marathon night awake periods. This Richard Ferber book really helped me. Actually, maybe I'll quote some of it here:

"A three-year old trying to give up napping altogether may nap on some days and not on others...sometimes a child gets caught in the middle of the transition...on the days he is not sleepy enough to nap, he's not really able to go without the nap either, perhaps because he has not yet moved some of his lost sleep into the night. He may manage to nap when circumstances are perfect...but then...he may not be sleepy at his usual bedtime..."

Basically, it says to try cutting out the naps for 2 weeks and see if he adjusts well. Then:

"He is still likely to have a low point around his former nap time, when he will not want to do much other than cuddle or sit on the sofa and watch a video for an hour..."

So..maybe he's getting too much sleep, or maybe it's too little. Fun, right! Good luck!
posted by kitcat at 9:16 PM on January 2, 2012


"I must be the horrible mommy in the room, because I stick my 39 month old in her room with books, toys and the ("her" she says) iPad and set the timer for 1 hour. The timer used to be in the room with her until she started turning it off, now I set it outside her door. I give her a quick kiss and tell her to come out when the timer goes off. I call it quiet time and have had no resistance at all, though the nap word is sure to cause a ruckus."

Same here except no IPad, and we call it rest time. As she's grown up we've made some minor changes, like letting her have puzzles, crafts for art, and music. Basically as soon as she got comfortable enough with something to do it on her own without being frustrated and needing our help she could have it there. It's been pretty smooth now for a few years (ages 3 and 4).
posted by true at 9:34 PM on January 2, 2012


I had something similar when I was preschool aged. My mom wanted a daily nap, so put me in my room first and told me that I could nap but didn't have to, but needed to stay quiet and in my room until she came to get me (an hour later, I think). I usually read during this time, and have a lifelong love of reading from all the reading I did in childhood, probably sparked by this early preschool reading. I'd suggest something like what you're saying: framing it as quiet time for everyone rather than nap time for him. I agree with above posters that it tends to work better if you're quiet too rather than if you're clattering around the house doing something possibly perceived as interesting.
posted by UniversityNomad at 11:30 PM on January 2, 2012


Also, maybe try scheduling something for AFTER his quiet time, something that he doesn't get to do until he's had his quite time and only if he's had quiet time. That way you're rewarding him for being good, and easing the stress of the change.

This is an excellent idea. I wish we'd thought of it.

Conversely, you could switch to all day daycare, where naptime is part of the routine (whether they sleep or not).

Good luck. Nothing made my kid nap after 2 unless he was really sick. Quiet time also resulted in torn up room for us, but apparently other people have done better. He's six now, so it's moot.
posted by emjaybee at 11:35 PM on January 2, 2012


If he's sleeping for 12 hours, I think it's pretty normal for him to not want a nap. Quiet time is fine, but expecting him to read with the lights dimmed doesn't seem to serve any purpose except to say WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING NOW IS SLEEPING, and sleeping is just one of those things you absolutely cannot expect anyone to do on command.
posted by dagnyscott at 10:39 AM on January 3, 2012


Teach him to meditate? It's not crazy and is getting more popular.

Plus its a habit that will help him a lot later in life.
posted by softlord at 1:34 PM on January 3, 2012


Update: "quiet time" is working out quite well.

We set it up and he remains quiet for up to an hour. It is adorable hearing him read to himself.

Things that I did:

- put a piece of tape down as a line for the bedroom.
- he wants to 'choose' where quiet time is (sometimes in the upstairs hallway, sometimes in the bedroom, sometimes in the living room) and while this annoyed me a first, it seems to be working for him.
- we bought a 'tot clock' but it isn't working as planned...
- insist that everyone be alone for quiet time and not talk to each other.

Thanks all!
posted by k8t at 1:18 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


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