Every mom eventually asks the question: “What do I do when your kids stop napping. HELP! The world is ending as I know it.” I am not a pro by any means, but I have amazing skills at milking your nap time for all it’s worth. Keep reading to learn how to adjust naps by age, how to make nap time fun, how to create a nap time routine, and how to treat quiet time like nap time.
As I write this, I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I also work 8 hours a day at my computer…and EXPECT my kids to nap. Do they? Nope, not all the time.
But, because my work schedule requires set hours every afternoon for me to work (usually 1-5pm), I am excellent at creating nap time and quiet time routines that give us an afternoon routine. Ready for ALL THE TIPS? Let’s get started….
Sleep Needs by Age
Daytime and morning nap – Under 6 Months
The biggest question during this age is “To sleep train or not to sleep train?” THAT is the question. I hate to say this, but I am not going to come on here and tell you what to do.
Personally, we sleep train and it has worked wonders for both of my kids. But, I know so many families that hate sleep training, and that’s just the way they choose to maneuver this tough time. I GET IT. It’s tough no matter how you do it.
Regardless of how you sleep train (or not!), I definitely encourage you to make your babies NAP. They might be planned. They might be sporadic. But they need sleep. You need them to sleep. And everyone is happy.
What I will tell you to do is BUY THIS SWING. This one ⬇️
Fisher Price Snuggabunny Swing
This swing is the ONLY THING that helped my kids nap. It prolonged their naps from about 30-40 minutes to 2-3 hours. I’m NOT KIDDING.
I have friends that have tried all the big names – Mamaroo, The Snoo, you name it…and this is the one they end up buying at 10 pm because they are desperate.
We used this until my kids outgrew it weight-wise – maybe about when they were 10 or 11 months? They LOVE it. They love rocking, they love the noise, and they sleep in amazingly.
I recommend the Snuggabunny swing from day 1 – and you’ll never look back. So, my #1 tip for naptime for babies? Use this swing and say alleluia!
Daytime naps – 6 – 12 Months
For me, this age was the age of TRANSITION. Transitioning from the swing to their crib. It also was the year they transitioned from 2 to 1 naps. It’s so fun. KIDDING.
It’s during this phase that I lean really hard into white noise, blackout shades, and baby sleepsacks. I swear by this HALO sleepsack. It is the perfect weight, size, and transitions babies easily from swaddles.
HALO 100% Cotton Sleepsack
This Halo sleepsack is the perfect weight for summer or winter – so I don’t mess with the fleece sacks. It IMMEDIATELY trains my babies that “It’s naptime!” and now my 24 month ASKS for it, “Blanket! Blanket!”
This was the key for an easy transition from swing to crib, and also helps them not stand up and climb out! Added bonus.
Oh! I can’t go on until I talk about the Wubbanub. I know, it’s weird how amazing it is. This paci + stuffed animal combo was both of my kids’ favorites and just giving it to them made them sleepy! When they are tiny, the animal lays on their chest and balances out the paci, and keeps it in place. When they are older, it turns into a “lovie” and give them something to cuddle. I’m telling you. EVERY MOM NEEDS ONE.
Afternoon nap or Quiet Time – 2-year-olds
My daughter stopped napping at 2 years old, and it was rough. She’s so active – and SO NOT SLEEPY in the afternoon.
It was during this time that I transitioned her to quiet times.I tried everything at this point – white noise, dark curtains, books, music, expensive alarm clocks…nothing worked. So, we transitioned to quiet time. Keep reading to see how we did that!
Make Naptime Fun
I am a HUGE PROPONENT in making naptime fun. I also am a huge fan of just dropping my kids in their crib/room wide awake, and expecting them to go to sleep. (I thank sleep training for this skill!)
When my kids are around 6 months old, I start adding toys to their crib. Yes, TOYS.
I add a few books, or play animals, or blocks…basically whatever they want. In all my experience (with two kids haha!), this has always worked in helping pacify them and letting them calm down before sleep.
Reduce the focus on sleep
I don’t rock my babies to sleep. I don’t wait around and help them go to sleep.
I tired them out. Let them run and play. And then transition to my naptime routine (read about that below) and let them go to sleep. I give them toys if they need to transition. I turn on a lullaby cd, or a meditation app. I always turn on our bedroom fan and close the curtains.
I don’t make a big deal of it. It just happens.
Ok, that makes me sound like a snob…I’m so sorry if you have a hard time with this! But I truly hope these tips help!
Model Independent Play
My kids know how to independent play well. As I write this, it’s 5:30 pm and my kids are probably hungry. But instead, they are playing behind me making a fort out of pillows, blankets, and some random stick they found in the closet. (Actually, I better grab that…be right back.)
Anyway, I have spent time with them teaching them to play independently. This allows them to go to sleep independently. They are the same thing.
If you have a hard time with them napping, try practicing independent play every day for 10-20 minutes. See if that helps!
Use meditation and storytime apps
One of my favorite resources for naptime is the New Horizon Meditation and Sleep Stories channel on YouTube. They also have an app here!
This is an awesome calm channel of quiet stories for kids. I use this all the time for my 4 year old – whether she is trying to sleep, or just needing normal “quiet time”. (Any other moms of 4-year-olds out there? We need a support system…)
When she was younger she called them the “Dolphin Stories”, and these would put her to sleep immediately. Now that she is older, I use them if she can’t go to sleep (hello, 10pm) or if she needs time to calm down in her room.
I totally recommend if you are needing to improve your nap routine! Speaking of nap routine…
Keep The Same Nap Schedules
I’m a big fan of keeping a basic routine. I like the basics….dark, white noise, cozy clothes, one book. I’m not for the 3 books and stand-on-the-right-side-or-I’ll-scream routine. BASIC.
Start Slowly and Sleep Patterns
I think nap time is one of those things you train your kids to do. They aren’t just naturally going to want to sleep and be quiet for hours on end. Instead, start slowly by practicing independent play, basic routine, time alone in the swing…whatever it is. This helps when you slowly move it from 30 minutes, to 1 hour, to 2 hours.
A good way to tell the ideal time, is to check for signs of crankiness, or the telltale sign of pure exhaustion. Use that time as a starting time, and keep building and teaching until you have 2 or 3 hours!
Set A Specific Time (Consistency)
My kids are usually going down for nap time and quiet time around 1:15 pm. We try to keep this daily schedule as much as possible. This is just the time that works for us. We finish lunch, and I usually let them play a little bit in their rooms. This is a good “together play” time when they are both a little more calm.
My ideal nap time usually goes from 1:15-3:30. Sometimes it’s more – sometimes it’s less. But it’s always a success when 1) I had time to catch up with work and 2) my kids have had a time to recharge.
Just remember this! The goal isn’t always for everyone to snooze a certain number of hours. The goal is to rest, have a “down time” and for everyone to gain energy for the afternoon. It can look differently for every family!
Experiment With Different Clothes
It goes without saying, but change your kids out of dirty clothes! Sometimes a premature bath at this time is necessary (hello, mudpies) and can be perfect for getting your kids in a sleepy mood.
For kids napping, I like to change them into comfy clothes – be it pajamas, sweats, or something other than jeans. A nice pair of clean pajamas + a sleepsack will do wonders to get your kids ready for bed!
Try Some White Noise, Soft Music
There are a hundred white noise options, and all are great! Personally, we love this Vornado Air Purifier for kids. It cleans the air in their rooms (this was super important to us when we lived on a busy truck-filled street), and it is the perfect white noise!
Vornadobaby Purio Nursery Air Purifier
We have this air purifier in both kids’ rooms, and it is the perfect size and weight for kids. They can’t break it or get their fingers stuck. The three levels of sound and the nightlight are perfect for what we need. Totally recommend!
Hatch Baby Rest
The Hatch Baby Rest is definitely the mom cult favorite of white noise machines. It’s the ULTIMATE mom hack.
You can customize colors, timers, EVERYTHING and it syncs to your phone. This is one of those things that you desperately order at midnight because NOTHING IS WORKING. Go ahead, bookmark it now. You’ll need it later!
I mean check out these ratings…
Consider Keeping Your Child’s Room Dark
I honestly don’t know how I feel about this one. Part of me wants my kid to be able to sleep anywhere…light, dark, hallway, random bedroom, stroller, ANYWHERE.
Part of me LOVES BLACKOUT CURTAINS. There is nothing like making a room dark and snoozy and all the things that make ME want to take a nap.
These are the ones we have from Target. They are cute. They are sturdy and hold up to all the little fingers. And best of all, they are cheap. Because, kids.
When kids no longer nap – Treat Quiet Time for Toddlers Like Nap Time
When do kids stop napping? WHENEVER THEY WANT.
It might happen when they are 1….or 2…or 4. There is no rhyme or reason. The real question is “What do you do when kids stop napping?”
And…I’m going to tell you.
Replacing nap time with quiet time (transitional period)
As a busy WAHM that desperately needs a minute to myself, I need naptime. Or quiet time. Whatever I can get.
I bet you are the same.
So, when my daughter stopped napping when was 2, I cried and rebelled…and then shifted plans. QUIET TIME. We can do this.
The rules were the same: 2 hours. Quiet. Don’t bother mom.
Benefits of a rest time habit at home and school
The benefits of quiet time are so obvious. Moms get a break and a shower. Kids get rest and can recharge. Even if they don’t sleep, they get rest.
Quiet time also forces kids to have independent play time…which in turn forces creativity. At 4, my daughter is able to play by herself for hours. Of course, it didn’t start like this. It started with 30 minutes. Then 40. Then an hour.
My son is 2, and is able to play by himself for at least 1 hour. I started when he was 6 months old, and slowly increased it until he knew how to creatively entertain himself.
Also, if you have more than one kid, I’d recommend separating your kids so they learn how to occupy themselves. I want my son to know how to be by himself, and not always need his sister around.
So, to answer the question…there are SO MANY BENEFITS.
Expectations for Quiet Time
The most important thing is to set expectations or general guideline. When my daughter was 2, she was required to stay in her bed. She could have toys and books, but must stay in her bed. Now that’s she’s 4, she is allowed to play in her whole room. She just can’t leave the room. Here are our basic rules:
- Stay in your room/bed
- Don’t bother mom
- Play with toys, books, puzzles, music
- Get up after the correct time (my daughter gets up when the clock says “3”)
- Must put away some/all of toys at the end (this is kind of agreed upon when the toys are brought out.)
Choose Activities for Quiet Time
This is when I DUMP OUT ALL THE TOYS. And then I regret it. But still – they ALL COME OUT.
I’m the kind of mom that believes “toys are cheaper than babysitters”. Now, I’m not saying go buy out Target and pull out the trains, cars, marble track, legos, and blocks all at the same time. NOPE.
But often at quiet time I let her pull out one big thing (legos OR marble track), one smaller thing (a few puzzles), and a few books.
She also has a CD player in her room to play her music. Speaking of CD players…I think every kid needs one to just learn how to play their own music!
Have a Set Quiet Time Space
For us, our quiet time space is either her bed or her room. I spend a lot of time saying “Go back to your room! It’s QUIET time. Quiet.”
I’m not saying enforcing these rules is easy. I’m not saying that all kids will get it. But, I am saying that this is CRAZY important to give your family rhythm, and to keep patterns and rules in place.
Last thing. You as the mom will greatly benefit from having these practices in place. You will get rest. You will get a shower. You will thrive! Your kid will thrive too…but let me tell you. Do this for yourself! 🙋♀️
When do your kids stop napping?
The short answer is NEVER. Just keep transitioning from naps to quiet time to “stay away from mom” time. You will be happy.
❤️ Please share your favorite tips below so we can all learn from each other! How has napping and quiet time worked for you?