My 17-month-old refuses to take naps. He also doesn’t go to bed until 10 p.m.—and that's with waking up at 7 a.m. Um, help!
Dear So Tired,
You’re right to be
perplexed. That’s surely not enough sleep for a baby his age. His growing body
and blossoming little mind will do well with at least 11 hours at night and at least one good nap.
It’s common for toddlers
to have a temporary “nap strike,” in which they skip naps because they’re too
excited to be practicing, playing and enjoying the world. Nap strikes are very common
and make perfect sense—as a baby’s awareness of the world grows, so does his
desire to be a part of it. The problem is that sometimes parents take this nap
refusal as a sign that either the baby isn’t tired or that they’ll never be
able to get reliable naps back again.
Neither of these is true
for a 17-month-old. If you hold the frame of a nap—by keeping the right timing
and having a nap routine similar to a shortened version of your bedtime
one—eventually, he will come back around to sleeping again. He has to know that
your routines and expectations are not changing, and that he can trust the
consistency of them. When that happens—and when the novelty of his daytime
excitement wears off—he will come around to sleeping again.
I’m skeptical that he
stays awake from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. That seems almost physically impossible for
a toddler. I’m guessing he falls asleep in the car or the stroller, maybe even for less than 30
minutes. You’d want to make sure that doesn’t happen and that you tuck
him into his regular sleeping place for naps and bedtime. Naps (even car naps) are
best ended by 3:30 p.m. or so.
So bring the nighttime bed routine into the day, give it some time and your toddler will adjust.
Do you have a sleep question you want Heather to answer for Sleep Fix? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sleep expert Heather Turgeon, co-author of "The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night's Sleep—Newborn to School Age," will fix your family's sleep problems in this space as she does in her Los Angeles-based sleep consultations. Turgeon's solutions are nonjudgmental, kind and—best of all—based on science.
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