Author Topic: Set naps for toddlers: Why, How and When  (Read 5628 times)

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Offline anna*

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Set naps for toddlers: Why, How and When
« on: March 24, 2013, 11:17:52 am »
Once a baby is into their second year (one year old or more), some mums do find a benefit to going to set naps. 'Set' for this purpose means set by 'clock' time, not working with set A times.

Why?
The purpose of this is to regulate your little one's body clock so that he or she comes to expect to sleep at particular times each day, and it can be a way out of an entrenched early bedtime/early wake up cycle.

If trying to work out what time and for how long your little treasure should nap is driving you insane, then consider set naps. A stressed out mummy obsessed with nap times is not enjoying her toddler - this short time in his or her life will fly by, and it's too short to spend it compulsively calculating the correct A time after nap of X or Y minutes. It can be sort of liberating to go by the clock and leave the nap length to fate - and your baby.

Also, after a certain age, little ones get much less reliable with tired cues. A busy 15 month old can seemingly keep going for hours on end - and will run into serious overtired territory unless mum decides it's nap time. You may never see a yawn from them until you're kissing them goodnight. For little ones who don't show tired cues, you really have to follow the clock.

Who?
No doubt, set naps tend to work better and achieve consistency more quickly with Angel and Textbook types. That's not to say that it can't work with the touchy or spirited toddler, but manage your expectations. There are some babies for whom this just doesn't work.

How?
Pick what you think will be a reasonable nap time, and stick to it. (Have a look at sample routines for a toddler the same age, or post on the BW Sleeping for Toddlers board for advice.) Be realistic. If your baby regularly wakes at 5am, a set nap at 1.30pm is likely to be a recipe for disaster.

Then pick a reasonable bedtime, based on a decent nap length, and stick to it. Again, be realistic.

Be prepared to be a bit flexible - you can bring the nap a little earlier if baba is clearly exhausted, and of course if he or she is unwell then your really have to abandon set times until they're better. Likewise with bedtime, you could go up to 30 mins earlier if your nap was a bust.

Now that you've picked your nap and bedtimes - BE CONSISTENT. Like anything else, you won't see results overnight. Stick to the times as much as you can, +/- 15 mins for naps, +/- 30 mins for bedtime. Don't fool yourself that you're testing out set naps if you're changing the times substantially every day. It can take a while to get little one napping at consistent times, and even longer for the nap to lengthen out. You need to give it time to work - don't bail too soon.

It's all going wrong
Don't panic. Some over tiredness is inevitable at the beginning. Hang tough. Most toddlers will eventually get the idea that these are their opportunities for sleep. You know your little one best, if things seem to be getting worse and worse (rather than seeing any positive progress), it may be that you have to throw in the towel and try to find a Plan B. You might find something helpful here, or of course do start a new thread on Sleeping For Toddlers

Teaching independent sleep - methods
S.L.O.W. down (and Appreciate your Baby's Language)
The BW "Know Your Toddler Quiz"

Keep going regardless?
If set naps are working for you, stick with your times until they stop working - forget about what others are doing or what you feel like you 'should' be doing. If you're baby is 13-14 months old, for example, you're going to need to change things up at some point probably before 16 months, as they make the final transition to one nap. An older toddler might start resisting their nap and playing instead of sleeping, so you might need to move the nap later - and set it there for a while. If it's working for you, don't mess with it. If it's stopped working, something needs to change.

Good luck! And remember, the mums of the BW forums are here to support you.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2013, 19:44:57 pm by anna* »