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  • Toddler Refuses Naps? Try This Alternative Routine That's Good For Their Brains

    Encourage this daily habit when your child has outgrown nap time.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Toddler Refuses Naps? Try This Alternative Routine That's Good For Their Brains
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/Mcimage
  • Toddlers need up to 14 hours of sleep daily, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), but parents know this can be difficult when their little ones start refusing nap time. When this happens, parents can introduce an alternative routine called quiet time.

    What is quiet time?

    Simply put, quiet time is a short period during the day where your child does calm activities by themselves. You can still be together in one room, but your toddler should be relatively independent. For example, you can be reading books, while your child silently plays with his toys.

    Why is quiet time important?

    According to Stacie Pozdol, a licensed therapist, quiet time can help kids “emotionally reset and recharge, which is necessary for helping them manage their emotions and handle frustrations.”

    It also helps them build energy so they can “get through their busy days… to match their intense childhood curiosity,” Pozdol adds in her article for Mother.ly.

    Quiet time helps your toddler become more independent, while also fueling their brain. They can build their imagination, hone their creativity with unstructured play, learn to make decisions, and plan what they want to do all by themselves. It also improves their focus and allows them to think innovatively.

    For parents, it also provides a much-deserved break! They can do self-care, finish more tasks, and have a chance to reset in the middle of the day.

    How to introduce quiet time

    Some kids will appreciate being left alone, while others will resist. Here are some tips to encourage your toddlers to adapt to this routine.


    1. Start slowly.

    Your tot will not immediately be able to play by themselves for an hour. For the first few days, have quiet time for 15 to 20 minutes, then slowly add more time as they get into the daily habit.

    2. Provide visual aid.

    Toddlers cannot grasp the concept of time just yet, so a visual aid or a child-friendly clock that signals when quiet time starts, and ends can be helpful. There are clocks that can be programmed to light up or play sounds and you can instruct your child to do an activity — “Play until the clock turns blue, then that means quiet time is over and you can come to mommy.”

    The short increments can help manage your child’s expectations, according to developmental psychologist Dr. Ashley Soderlund, in her blog Nurture and Thrive.

    “If you set the clock for 10 minutes and your toddler successfully plays quietly for that whole time, then they will feel like they accomplished something. If you set it too long at first and they come out over and over — they will feel like they can’t play for that long on their own,” she shares.

    Remember to comment and praise them when they’ve successfully accomplished quiet time to help reinforce the routine.

    3. Have a dedicated space.

    Ideally, your child can stay in their own room or in a calm environment that can ease them into quiet time. This will also allow them to go and take a nap should they choose.

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    If your kid is too young to stay in a room by themselves, make sure they are in an area with little distractions — you can set up a play mat in the living room, for example. Make sure to avoid screen time.

    4. Prepare activities.

    Your little one might balk at the thought of solo play, so first provide the possibilities until they learn how to entertain themselves. An article from PBS.org suggests leaving a box with activities specifically for quiet time, such as books, puzzles, and toys.

    5. Set expectations.

    Like any routine, it’s best to lay some rules that are simple and easy for your child to understand. The Sleep Lady suggests the following rules.

    Your child needs to stay in the designated area for quiet time.
    Because it’s called quiet time, the activities should also be quiet and discreet
    If your child needs something from you, they should come to you without yelling or screaming

    To establish the routine, make sure quiet time is consistent, just like you did before with your toddler’s nap time. That way, they will look forward to it and everyone in the family can enjoy a short break (you deserve it!).

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