Nap time usually acts as a reprieve for parents and caregivers, offering an hour or two to get things done without having to constantly supervise a little one. You might even panic when your little one begins refusing his regular nap. Even though your child doesn't nap any longer, you can still enjoy some quiet time every day. Establishing quiet time means your child gets to play independently and you still have some time to yourself.
Plan quiet time instead of a nap when your child seems ready to give up his daily snooze. According to Kim West, a child sleep expert, your little one is ready to drop his nap when he has trouble falling asleep at night and resists nap time in general. Most kids give up their nap by age 4, opting for stretches of 10 to 11 hours of sleep at night instead.
Set your expectations to your child for quiet time. Explain that he doesn't need to go to sleep, but he needs to play quietly and independently for a set amount of time in a quiet area of your home -- his room works well. Helping your child understand what you expect can make for a smoother transition.
Start with small increments of time at first. You can't expect your child to simply play quietly for an hour by himself at first. You can begin by setting a timer in his room for 20 minutes and letting him know that he can come out when the timer goes off. After a few days, you can increase the amount of time incrementally to reach a longer stretch of quiet time.
Provide quiet activities for your child, suggests the book "The Giant Encyclopedia of Preschool Activities for Four-Year-Olds." Quiet activities like playing with blocks, trying on dress-up clothes, coloring in a coloring book or even watching a special movie or show can help your child reap the benefits of some quiet, independent time.
Adjust your child's bedtime when you make the switch from nap time to quiet time. Because your child isn't napping throughout the day, you may find that he gets cranky or tired earlier than usual in the evening. Try starting your bedtime routine 30 to 60 minutes earlier than usual, and you may find your child is ready for an earlier bedtime. Move up the bedtime routine if necessary -- and you'll still get your evening quiet time, too.
- The Sleep Lady: Tips for Transitioning from the Afternoon Nap to Quiet Time
- The Giant Encyclopedia of Preschool Activities for Four-Year-Olds; Kathy Charner
- St. Louis Children's Hospital: Summertime Naps and Quiet Time are Good for Kids
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