What to Do When your Toddler Won’t Nap

Posted by Jo Ann Schlicker on July 10, 2015

When your little one was a baby, she needed sleep to often. Her small brain could not handle too much stimulation at any one time and needed to shut down by sleeping a good part of the day. As she grew, she was able to stay up for longer periods because she needed to experience and learn things. She still needed a nap every day.

Not a baby anymore.

Now she is growing into a toddler. It is a transition period. Some days, she is still very much a baby but other days she insists on big kid privileges and recognition. She is not a full-fledged baby but not a kid yet.

Why won’t she sleep?

She is learning and growing at a fast rate. She is too busy doing things to sleep. Playing with her toys or watching a favorite children’s video on TV or the computer are a lot more fun than a nap. You can’t force anyone to sleep, especially an active curious toddler.

She could be overtired. Think about the last time you were so tired that you could not fall asleep no matter how hard you tried. It can happen to children too.  

What should you do about those sleepless days? It is hard to make solid plans when you don’t know what your toddler’s mood is going to be.

A nap by another name

Insist on a quiet time in the afternoon. Name it something else. She knows naps are for babies but a power hour would be for big girls. An afternoon break would be like a holiday. You could let her pick a name for the quiet time of the afternoon.

You can make those non-sleep days a special time together.

Read books to her. Talk about the pictures, and the story. You can tell each other made up stories. Also you can start a story and have her add something. Take turns adding more to the story. It will get both of your imaginations soaring.

Tell her stories about the family and your life as a child. Make them real without exaggeration. Even a two-year old will know that you did not walk 20 miles to school barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways.

Play quietly together. Make up games or go to old favorites. Can she beat you in a game of Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders?

Celebrate the end of babyhood. Spend time to get to know her better every afternoon. Both of your lives will be richer for the effort.