Although any time your toddler sleeps probably means peace for your family, a late nap may set you up for trouble at bedtime. A little person who has rejuvenated in bed for a few hours will often be reenergized and ready to roll on into the night. Make some gradual adjustments to your tot’s schedule to nix the late napping. It shouldn’t take much to encourage her to sleep at a more opportune time.
Examine your toddler’s day. His current schedule may be contributing to his desire to nap late in the day. Perhaps he sleeps later in the morning or takes a long or later morning nap. By adjusting his waking time and other napping schedules, you can probably make a change in the late napping habit.
Wake your toddler about 15 minutes earlier in the morning. Because her morning schedule began 15 minutes earlier in the day, move every activity in her schedule ahead 15 minutes, including a later nap. After a few days of getting up 15 minutes earlier, move her waking time ahead another 15 minutes, and move everything up again. Keep adjusting like this until her late nap isn’t late anymore.
Shorten his morning nap if it’s going too long and interfering with the afternoon nap. The authors of “What to Expect the Toddler Years” tell parents that a morning nap shouldn’t be longer than one hour. If you find your little one snoozing for too long, wake him after an hour so he’ll be ready to sleep earlier in the afternoon.
Drop the morning nap, if this is the problem. The University of New Mexico Hospitals asserts that toddlers often drop morning naps at about 18 months of age. If your tot fits this age group, it might be time to lead her gently to drop the morning nap to move the late afternoon nap up earlier in the day. Move lunchtime up by about one hour to transition from two naps to one nap. After lunchtime, move right into an early afternoon nap.
Keep your toddler busy if he’s showing signs of dropping naps altogether. Sometimes an energetic toddler will zip through the day without stopping to rest until he wants to crash in the late afternoon. When this happens, get creative to help him last a few more hours until you can tuck him into bed early. Try saving the best activities for the late afternoon, suggests Arthur Lavin and Susan Glaser, authors of “Baby and Toddler Sleep Solutions for Dummies.” Go to the park, bake a treat in the kitchen or do other activities that will keep your little guy’s brain stimulated. Whatever you do, avoid letting him zone out in front of the television or sticking him in his car seat – two activities that virtually guarantee a snoozing toddler in minutes.