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Annette Faamausili, March 15 2022

What To Do If Your Child Is Staging A Nap Strike

Nap strikes can be scary. You thought you had the whole sleep cycle thing nailed.

BUT your little one has suddenly decided to mix things up by refusing naps. Now your routine is out of whack, and you have to figure out how to get things back on track.

Before you lose too much sleep over your baby’s refusal to nap, it’s important to know that a nap strike is a very common occurrence, and it’s also temporary.

Babies can refuse naps for a number of reasons, and sometimes it’s hard to fathom what’s going on and why.

In this blog, we’ll explore why a nap strike happens and help you navigate a return to normalcy.

What To Do If Your Child Is Staging A Nap Strike

What Is A Nap Strike?

A nap strike is when your baby or toddler begins to resist naptime for no apparent reason, even when they’ve previously been going down for a nap beautifully. This can happen at any age and may last for several days or weeks.

Nap strikes can be daunting for parents, especially if they found it difficult to establish a reliable sleep schedule to start with. But it is soothing to know that a nap strike doesn’t signal a permanent return to sleepless nights. It’s usually a short-term thing that will sort itself out.

Why Nap Strikes Happen

Everything was going smoothly: you had perfected your daily schedule, nailed the pre-nap routine, and your baby slept like – well, a baby! Nothing changed, so why would your little one suddenly go on a nap strike?

More often than not, nap strikes are not a result of something you’ve done. They are related to the developmental phase of your child. Here are some of the most common reasons for a nap strike:

Baby is preparing for a nap transition

As your little one gets older, they need less sleep and fewer naps. A nap strike could indicate that baby is ready to drop a nap out of their daily sleep schedule. It’s possible that your child needs a longer awake window to increase sleep pressure and readiness for sleep.

If the nap refusal has been ongoing for more than two weeks, it’s likely they are ready to drop the nap entirely.

Baby is distracted by a new skill

When your little one is trying to master a new skill, such as crawling or walking, they can become quite stimulated and distracted. Their developing minds are drawn to practice that skill over and over again, even when they’re tired and meant to be taking a nap!

While it may not look like a lot is going on from the outside, your child’s brain is experiencing exciting new activity and greater awareness. Understandably, all that action can temporarily make it harder to settle down for a daytime nap.

If this is the case with your child, a longer wind-down period before the nap can help them switch off and prepare for sleep.

Sleep issues are quite common around the 18-month mark – in fact, it’s typical for toddlers to experience an 18-month sleep regression as they hit some of those new developmental milestones.

Make sure you give your child plenty of time to practice their new skills ahead of nap time, but stay consistent with the times of day of your naps, even if it is taking them longer to fall asleep.

How To Handle A Nap Strike

The most important thing to remember is not to panic. This is likely to be a short-term thing, so don’t immediately try to change a hundred different things to restore normality. Stay consistent with your schedule and nap routine while you figure it out.

If the nap strike doesn’t seem to resolve itself and you haven’t identified any other potential issues, it could be time to drop a nap from the schedule.

It can be helpful to familiarise yourself with nap patterns for different age groups. While every child develops at their own pace, this can help give you an indication of whether it might be time to drop a nap.

Here are some guidelines to give you an idea:

●      From 3 to 5 months, babies need 3-4 naps a day

●      Between 6 and 9 months, 2-3 naps a day is common

●      From 9 to between 15 and 18 months, 2 naps a day are needed.

●      Between 18 and 18 months to 3 years, it’s usually down to 1 afternoon nap.

Remember, a few days here and there of refusing a nap is really common. Stick to what works (even when it feels like it’s not working), give your baby plenty of opportunities to rest, and trust that everything will return to normal before too long.

Nap Strikes Getting You Down?

When everyone is not getting the right amount of sleep it can be hard. It can also be hard when a carefully crafted routine seems to change overnight without warning.

So, if you’ve tried the advice above and it hasn’t worked, or you simply need a friendly and understanding ear to give practical advice, then I can help.

At Serene Sleep, we offer gentle sleep advice that helps the whole family to get the quality sleep they need. We have a range of different support packages available, so reach out to us today.

Written by

Annette Faamausili

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