I was seven months pregnant with my second baby when it happened. Suddenly, my rambunctious little 18 month old didn’t need a nap.
It’s not that he was fighting them, or refused to lay down. He could no longer fall asleep during nap time.
Being 7 months pregnant with a baby, nap time wasn’t optional for me. I would literally fall asleep in my chair if I didn’t get a few minutes of sleep in, so I had to find a way around this no-longer-needs-a-nap craziness.
Even if you’re not expecting another baby, as moms, we know we can depend on that glorious hour in the middle of the day to catch your breath, get a load of laundry done or just go to the bathroom alone.
And then one day it all comes crashing down. They stop napping and you are left trying to figure out where to go from here. This post contains affiliate links.
In my experience the naps stop around the time the second baby is born. You know, the time of life when you really could use just 30 freaking seconds to yourself. And any one who has ever tried to keep a toddler quiet while a newborn baby sleeps knows that it’s basically impossible. I, for one, never noticed just how loud my toddler was, until I was trying to get him to comprehend the word “quiet” as his tiny baby sister sobbed through yet another would-have-been nap time.
So what is a mama to do when nap time ends?
Quite time – Quiet time is a magical thing I started enforcing in our family as soon as my then 1 year old stopped napping. Yes, my darling son stopped napping before he was even two years old. It’s like winning the reverse lottery. Also, did I mention I was pregnant with my daughter when he stopped? Good times. Since he didn’t know any different I simply started telling him that he didn’t have to nap,but would need to play quietly in his room for one hour every day. This came through desperation more than anything else. I was at a point in my pregnancy when I physically could not make it through the day without a rest of some kind and quiet honestly my 1 year old really need some time to himself too. Naps stopped and it was an immediate transition to room-play/quiet time. No questions asked!
Alternatively, you could start making busy bags for your older child. After my pregnancy days, I didn’t want to send him to his room everyday, so quiet time activities for the living room became the nap alternative of choice. You can find busy bag ideas here. The basic idea is that they are small quiet activities that can fit into a ziploc bag. Most of them can be made for just a dollar or two but since the only time they come out is during nap/quiet time they tend to keep your little ones entertained for the full hour (or at least half an hour!). If you aren’t feeling crafty, these are great busy bags you can buy!
ABCMouse.com – yes, I’m going there. I am not above a little bit of controlled screentime, especially if it is educational. ABCmouse is often used in kindergarten classrooms and it is a great program for kids! They have educational games starting for 2 year olds and going up to 2nd graders! The games, books and activities are all a lot of fun! Bonus – I have a link for a free 30 day trial JUST FOR YOU! Click the image below to snag yours. So much fun!
Book time – When the no-nap day hits I know that you need an immediate fix. You won’t necessarily have time to throw together a busy bag right then and there. This is why reading time can be a good idea too. Keep a basket of books specifically for reading time while baby naps. I’m always surprised by how long my son will sit still looking at books, even when he won’t sit and watch a movie!
Be it books, games or busy bag activities having something designated as “special” for the older child to do during nap time creates a way for them to look forward to their little sibling’s nap and still keep the home quiet. Sometimes my toddler would fight our quiet activities and try to be loud but I found that the gentle reminder that if h wasn’t going to behave he was welcome to start napping again like the baby was almost always a large enough incentive to bring his behavior back around. I only had to follow through on that “threat” once and he got the idea and chose to participate in quiet time instead.
How old was your child when s/he stopped napping? How did you handle it?
Related: More quiet time activities for toddlers and preschoolers
How to teach your toddler to play independently
My 2 year old still takes a good 2-3 hour nap a day. I am SO not looking forward to when he decides to stop that habit. lol Thanks for this post and for the great ideas!