Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Naps-Hold them sacred

Poll Results: What age do you think naps are not needed?
Total Votes: 5
Age 3--0%
Age 4--60%
Age 5 or older--40 %
I have no idea--0%

According to Judith Owens a pediatric sleep expert we are about right here is what she says:
Most children under the age of 1 take two naps a day — usually one in the morning and another in the afternoon. By 18 months, most have given up the morning nap but still need an afternoon snooze to make it through dinner without a meltdown.

Even when you've kissed the morning nap goodbye, your toddler's likely to continue needing her afternoon nap for quite some time. At age 4, more than 50 percent of children are still taking naps. And even though the majority of children (about 70 percent) stop napping at 5 years, 3 in 10 still need a nap at this age.

That said, every child is different. Much depends on how many hours your toddler sleeps at night. Toddlers need approximately 12 to 14 hours of sleep in each 24-hour period. So if, for example, your child goes to bed at 8 p.m. and doesn't get up until 8 a.m., she may get her full quota of rest all at once, giving her no reason to need a nap. But if she doesn't get 12 hours at night, then ideally she should get some zzz's during the day. (more from Judith click here)

I don't watch a lot of TV but one of the shows I've seen a few times and quite enjoy is Supernanny on ABC. Have you ever thought, I sure wish Jo would come to my house and help me? She has some really good ideas. It seems like there are many homes that struggle with bedtime and nap time. These habits children establish can run deep and when mom or dad tries to change them there are often lots of tears from both child and parents. I saw one episode where the mom went into a toddlers room over 30 times putting him back to bed. By the time he went to sleep mom was a wreck.
I know by the end of the day I'm ready for some alone time to wind down and decompress. If my kids have trouble settling down it enough to put me over the edge. So what does this have to do with naps. I really believe their is a connection between naps and bedtime.
When my babies are getting a little older (usually around 2 months), and I feel they are ready to start going to sleep on their own, in their own crib, then I start sleep training during the day with naps. I always start with naps because I'm much more with it during the day then in the middle of the night or right before bed and exhausted. I'm also more patient and have my wits about me. Having your babies learn to go to sleep on their own can be really hard, but it's so worth the effort to be able to lay your baby in their crib and go to sleep without a big ordeal and tears.

What can help establish regular naps? Here are things I do that I've found help.
1. Hold nap time and bed times at a consistent time as much as possible. Once you get a consistent time you can play with the schedule when you have an appointment or an irregular day. Kids can be pretty flexible as long as you don't always change on them.
2. Have some traditions that help settle your kids-If you always do the same thing before naps and bedtime this really helps your kids and babies know its time to rest. We go to the bathroom, read a story, turn on our relaxing music, and give kisses and sing our nap or bedtime song.
3. Establish rules about leaving the room and bugging mom and dad and follow through with consequences.
We have really made it clear in our home that once it's bedtime or even nap time it's time for mom and dad to be together or to be alone. My kids like their doors open and lights on so they can read books. If they leave their room I say, "That's one, if I get to three doors are closed and lights are off." If they get out again, I count, "That's two." Third time, "That's three" Then I close the door and turn the lights off. I usually don't have to do this but I did at first because kids want to know if your going to follow through.
4. For nap time- I keep my kids in separate rooms. My kids at night time share rooms. We have two in each room but during the day I like to keep them all in different rooms.
5. Replace Nap Time with Quiet Time when your child is ready. Like Bonnie and Alisha commented on a previous post. Naps vary from child to child. My first child took a nap everyday until he started first grade. My second child at the age of 4 took a nap only once in a while but he was still given the opportunity everyday. When your kids are fighting going down for naps which they all will at one time or another, I say "That's is fine, you don't need to take a nap at all. Mom still needs a little quiet time so you can choose a quiet activity for an hour on your bed." Our rules for quiet activities they can choose an activity (no electronics like a Leapster, TV, or toys). Often my kids will choose puzzles, books, and magazines. When my kids started to be able to read the clock they were very prompt in coming out when it had been an hour. During the summer my one and three year old always have a nap. For my six and eight year old I'm very flexible with. Today both were so cranky because of the late night the family had so I had them both took an hour of quiet time. My six year old feel asleep but the older one just had some down time which really helped his attitude the rest of the day. Sometimes I think kids just need a little time to think and be still. When they get older I can see this as a good time to encourage them to write in a journal or read scriptures.

I guess you can see I hold naptime very sacred. It is my time to regroup, study, ponder, and sometimes do a creative project that I can't do well with all the kids up. I read an excellent book last week I'd like to share a quick thought. "Eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim... No longer fed by by a feeling of indispensability or purposefulness, we are hungry, and not knowing what we are hungry fro, we fill up the void with endless distractions, always at hand--unnecessary errands, compulsive duties, social niceties. And for the most part, to little purpose. Suddenly the spring is dry; the well is empty...Every person, especially every woman, should be alone sometime during the year, some part of each week, and each day." --From 'Gift from the Sea' by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I have found this very true with myself. I love be mom and serving my children, but I get to a point where I can tell I haven't taken enough time for myself to recharge and I'm more impatient and cross. I challenge you to find some alone time. Set a goal to find a little time to fill your pitcher so you can keep giving to your children. Nap time is just one time during the day you can try to find some quiet time to recharge.


  1. Umm... alone time, I'm not quite sure what that is he he. We use a lot of the suggestions you mentioned. Funny how they kick and scream about not wanting a nap, yet I would take one anyday!!!

  2. Heather, I love this blog. I really do. What great idea. I love reading it because it reminds me that being a mom really is the most important thing and motivates me to be more focused on doing that job well. It seems that you have read some great books....you're full of good quotes :) Do you have a list of favorite books? Parenting books, what have you enjoyed? And other books? Do you have a list somewhere?

    Michelle Hatch Linton

  3. Michelle-Thank you! I do have a list of favorite books and I'm slowly adding them to this blog as I quote them. You can find them on the left hand column. I also have a couple more books on my family blog favorite book list if your interested. overlyactive.blogspot.com
    If anyone has any loves a book they think I might like. I would love to check it out!


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