One surefire way to get your toddler to nap is to take her to swimming lessons. Not only will she have the physical exertion of learning to swim, but she'll be in a new environment and get to socialize with other toddlers. Plus, of course, she'll be learning a lifelong skill. The only negative is the fact that you'll be forced to put on a bathing suit every week until she's old enough for the YMCA's independent swimming classes.
The YMCA groups young children by age and older children by swimming ability. Each class is named after a marine life form, such as Inia, Perch or Ray. Mom or dad can take infants as young as six months to Inia classes at all YMCAs. The next level is Perch, which can begin at 18 months or 24 months, depending on which YMCA you attend. Regardless of when it starts, parents are still required to attend Perch classes. The Perch level ends at 36 months. Some YMCAs then provide Big Perch classes, so that 3-year-olds can still attend with mom. Others go right to Pike classes, which are for 3-year-olds who understand that mommy doesn't want to get into a bathing suit every week.
The goal of the YMCA's toddler swimming classes is not to teach your 2-year-old to butterfly like an Olympian. For young children in the Inia classes, the Y focuses on comfort in the water. Toddlers are not forced to put their faces in if they don't want to, nor do they have to practice jumping in as older students do. Instead they play games with mom or dad. Songs requiring movements are another popular activity in Inia classes.
Perch classes are more about developing early swimming skills. Moms support their toddlers as they learn to kick, to alternate their arms, to lay on their backs and to lay on their tummies in the water. Little ones also learn to blow bubbles and are encouraged, but not required, to put their faces in the water. Adventurous kids can even jump from the pool edge into mom's arms.
Obviously, kids and moms need comfortable bathing suits for YMCA swimming classes. Toddlers who are not yet potty trained will also need to wear swim diapers and tight fitting plastic pants under their bathing suits. When you think of all the people putting their faces into a YMCA pool every day, the idea of swim diapers as well as plastic pants seems sensible, not onerous. Some YMCAs also require that anyone with hair longer than chin-length wear a swim cap. So if you've been considering a hair cut, it might be wise to do it before you sign you and your toddler up for swimming lessons. Or you could just suggest that the person in the family with the shortest hair should be the one to take the toddler to swimming classes every week.