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The nap! That blessed 90- to 150-minute window in the middle of the day when you can whip through a week’s worth of emails, laundry, bills and dishes—or, you know, finally shower. (There’s also that thing of your kid experiencing essential developmental growth and rejuvenation.) But the sound of a tiny voice singing “no nap!” through the static of a baby monitor can crush your very soul—mainly because you now face a long, cranky afternoon with a guaranteed-to-be-overtired mini crazy person. Behold: the reasons why some naps are doomed to fail, and the remedies that really work. 

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no nap kids separation anxiety

The Problem: She’s Got Separation Anxiety

The solution: rituals. Just as you’ve come up with a rock-solid evening bedtime routine, keep your naptime ritual as short, sweet and consistent as possible. We’re talking one book, one song, some gentle shushing and lights out. If you say a “good night” phrase, say the same words the same way for every nap. When all else fails, and if at all possible, let someone else (your mother, a caregiver, a teenage babysitter you hire for an hour) put your child down. Separating from you might be what’s keeping her eyes open, so she’ll be less inclined to cling to a second set of hands.

no nap kids timing is off HERO

The Problem: The Timing Is Off

The solution: Make naptime a little later. Once you get into a napping groove, it can feel scary to rock the boat. But toddler sleep evolves as they do. Even after you’ve made the transition from two naps to one, you may still need to tweak the timing. By age two, most kids go down right after lunch. But that could be anywhere from noon to 1:30 p.m. Try gradually lengthening the first half of her day by 15 minutes every few days. A longer, more stimulating morning may be just what’s needed to tucker out a busy big kid.

room too bright no nap kids

The Problem: The Room Is Too Bright

The solution: blackout shades. Installing proper ones is well worth your investment, but you can also find temporary stick-on shades that can be reused over and over again. Because if the two of you make eye contact, it’s over. 

no nap kids bouncing off the walls

The Problem: He’s Bouncing Off the Walls

The solution: exercise. Your growing guy is building up ever-increasing supplies of energy. A morning spent strapped into the supermarket shopping cart is no longer going to cut it. Thankfully, almost no toddler’s stamina can withstand an hour-plus of running around in fresh air—or a 30-minute swim.  

no nap kids over tired

The Problem: He’s Overtired

The solution: more sleep the night before. You could reasonably assume that going to bed a little later at night would yield enough exhaustion for the next day’s naptime, but you’d (sadly) be wrong. Grandma’s mantra still holds: Sleep begets sleep. Longer night sleep means deeper, longer naps. As with so many nonsensical parenting scenarios—from never again peeing alone to peeling chicken nuggets—why ask why?

no nap kids too old

The Problem: Oh God, She’s Done Napping

The solution: quiet time. Even if the signs all point to her outgrowing naps, afternoon rest is still key. Keep the lights low and the stimulation extinguished. Let her “read” books or play with soft toys alone in her bed—with the white noise machine going full blast. She may fall asleep some days and just chill for the others. This may go on for a year. If she’ll hang out alone for 30 minutes, you win the day (experts recommend an hour, but we live in reality). And word to the wise: On no-nap days, make bedtime ridiculously early.

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