6 Nap Tips for Preschoolers

6 Nap Tips for Preschoolers

Remember nap time as a child? How dreadful it was and how the energy was pumping through? Nothing’s changed. If anything, children nowadays are even harder to lull to sleep with the amounts of entertainment surrounding them; electronic or not. While difficult, it’s not an impossible venture. Children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, need nap time in order to mature properly. From the physiological to the emotional benefits[1] alone, it’s a necessity for growing up. 

As the parent or caregiver, it’s essential to start routines and tricks to get any toddler to bed for a nap. Here are six reliable tips to get any little one to sleep:

Keep a Consistent Schedule

Remember: Consistency is key.

The continual routine puts toddlers on a schedule, whether they notice it or not. Keep in mind the structure of everyone’s day and how to integrate a naptime into it. But remember that naps are imperative to a healthy, growing mind. One study[2] even showed that preschool children’s every day napping helped them do better at playing memory games.

Make a Soothing Environment

No Spongebob in the background or colorful lights! Anything from soothing lullabies, white noise machines, blacked-out curtains, or all three, can create the perfect atmosphere for nap time.

Firstly, lullabies are scientifically[3] proven to lull babies (and even adults) to sleep, peacefully. Not only that, but there are physiological and emotional benefits to putting lullabies in the background at nap time. As for physiological benefits, it allows for deeper, more full breathing, and slows the heartbeat. Now, as for emotional benefits, it’s mainly useful for regulating emotions. Say a child is afraid of the dark, by playing a sweet lullaby in the background, it associates the fear to a sweet lullaby instead.

Instead of a lullaby, others had great luck with a white-noise machine to dull out any background noise around the house that could potentially awaken a toddler. It also doesn’t hurt any sensitive ears or have any chance of creating overstimulation.

Lastly, investing in black-out curtains can both protect sensitive eyes and keep the space as cozy as possible.

Remember to Still Give Quiet Times

Naptime doesn’t have to be the only source of peaceful, quiet times for a toddler. These can include small activities such as drawing, playing with quiet toys, or reading. Scientific studies[4] have proven the benefits of quiet times such as developing more creative skills and providing a designated recharge time. Even if they’re bored, research[5] shows that boredom leads of creativity, especially in toddlers.

Keep Track of How Much Sleep They Need

Too many naps or not enough can cause a lot of stress for everyone in the household. The key is knowing the frequency and length of naps every child needs. For toddlers, ages 1 to 3 years old, need an early afternoon nap of 1-3 hours. Make sure it’s not close to bedtime! As for preschoolers, ages 3 to 5 years old, need a quick 1-hour afternoon nap. While some may want more than one nap, try to keep a schedule of napping only once a day.

Restrict Sugar Intake and Screen Time

Studies[6] show that children nowadays spend an average of seven hours on entertainment and electronic devices. This can heavily affect their sleeping patterns and overall health, so it’s best to limit it, especially before bedtime. Start by setting boundaries such as turning off electronics 30-60 minutes before nap time or really focusing on outdoor activity beforehand.

As for sugar intake, keep the sweets locked up. If they request a snack, give them bananas, nuts, eggs, or yogurt. These snacks contain chemicals like magnesium, calcium, and tryptophan, all of which can promote sleep and healthy sleeping habits.

Let them fall asleep on their own

While it’s good to tuck them in at first, make sure to leave them so they learn to fall asleep on their own. Not only does it promote healthy sleeping habits, but it brings a sense of independence. Studies [7]show a multitude of strategies to show independence, while not making them feel alone. Some strategies include staying with them but gradually moving away and verbal reassurance.

            No matter what route is taken, remember to stay patient. A solid, consistent nap schedule isn’t made in a day. Experimenting and open communicating with one’s own child are the foundation to any good system. Nap time may be a scary prospect at first glance, but after a while, it’ll be easy like anything else.


[1] 9 Interesting Ways Napping Can Make Your Life Better. (2018, June 14). Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201806/9-interesting-ways-napping-can-make-your-life-better

[2] Alli, R. (2019, February 03). Do Kids Need to Nap? When, Why, and How to Get Kids to Nap. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/recharge/kids-naps

[3] Parentco., A. (2020, April 20). Why Lullabies Work, According to the Experts. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.parent.com/lullabies-work-according-experts/

[4] Nurtureandthriveblog. (2020, June 24). How and Why to Start Quiet Time With Your Kids: Toddlers to Big Kids. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://nurtureandthriveblog.com/quiet-time-for-kids/

[5] Hill, D. (2016, November 16). Children Develop Better When You Let Them Be Bored, Psychologists Say. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.lifehack.org/419154/children-develop-better-when-you-let-them-be-bored-psychologists-say

[6] Mangonon, J. (2018, November 13). Kids Can’t Sleep? Try Limiting Screen Time. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://hoagmedicalgroup.com/articles/kids-cant-sleep-try-limiting-screen-time/

[7] Toddler Nap-Time Tips: Gerber Life Insurance Blog. (2019, January 15). Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.gerberlife.com/blog/toddler-nap-time/

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