Help me optimize my young toddler's nap schedule
March 5, 2013 3:31 PM Subscribe
My 14 month old toddler seems to have transitioned from 2 naps a day to 1 nap a day. Our two-nap schedule was fine, but now with one nap our days are a mess. I need guidance on how to structure a toddler's daytime routine. I've read the sleep books but I need a fresh set of eyes on this situation.
posted by stowaway to health & fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I am having a hard time with our daily schedule and figuring out when the nap (or naps) should ideally happen. She self-adjusted from infant-style napping every two hours to taking two naps a day, and the naps always landed roughly at the same time. Since January, I've rarely been able to get her down for two naps in one day, and the nap does not have a consistent start time or duration. I'm worried that she's not getting enough rest during the day. I'm just going to list out the details ...
- Nighttime sleep is fine. When the second nap started to disappear, we pushed her bedtime down to 6 pm (previously 7 pm). Lately she sleeps until 7 am. She sometimes wakes during the night, but it's actually been a lot better since she started going to sleep at the earlier time.
- Starting in January, it started to become difficult to put her down for her morning or afternoon nap. It seemed rather early, developmentally, for her to only need one nap, but ... that afternoon nap just wasn't happening.
- She usually naps in the morning. Sometimes she's clearly ready for a nap at 9 am, sometimes not until 11. If it's a morning nap, she will sleep well, usually 90 minutes or frequently a bit beyond two hours. If I try to keep her up until after an early lunch, the nap is usually only 45 minutes. That's where things get pretty bad -- if we miss that morning nap, the afternoon nap is kinda crappy and she's in bad shape for the rest of the day.
- Afternoons are pretty rough on us. She's generally a cheery little thing but in the afternoons she is more prone to crying, needs a lot of attention, and acts quite nutty. We aim for dinner at 5:15 (especially to accommodate the early bedtime) but she has a difficult time with my attention on dinner prep. She just seems so tired for long periods of the day, on a daily basis.
- Maybe we're on the cusp of another developmental leap? I've noticed sleep is bad when she's about to demonstrate new skills. (That second nap disappeared when she learned to walk on her own.) She's been jabbering up a storm of new syllables the past couple of days so maybe her brain is fired up, getting ready to express language. There's also a molar that's been creeping out the past couple of weeks.
- The irregular naps have negatively impacted our meal/snack routine. It feels like we're having multiple little meals staggered around the nap. She doesn't eat that much in the morning.
- Not knowing when her naps are going to be make it pretty difficult to get together with other kids her age. I think she needs more time with other kids, and I think it's hard on me when I don't get to see anyone we know during the day, too.
Other possibly important details: I stay at home with her. My husband and I are big believers in well-rested children. She's not ever allowed any screen time. She has a "transitional object" for snuggling and sleepy time. She seems high energy and physically active compared to other toddlers her age. Her bedroom is not a play area and it's fairly dark/quiet for naps and nighttime. She's not a car/stroller napper. (Now that she's walking on her own, she dislikes being in the stroller for extended periods.)
Today she was up at 7 and ready for a nap at 9ish. She slept for about an hour and 15 minutes. She's been acting tired and unhappy most of the day and I've put her in back in her crib for some "quiet time." I think she's finally drifted off. (This is unusual - I've tried the quiet time in the afternoons for a while and she usually doesn't drift off. Maybe she knows Mommy needed to type out this question uninterrupted.) Yesterday she was up at 7, went down for a nap at 10:30ish, up at noonish, bedtime at 6pm.
What do I do? How can I adjust things so that we have a predictable daily schedule while meeting her sleep needs?