Tips on How to Get a Toddler to Nap Consistently

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Are you struggling with nap times? or maybe Has your toddler stopped napping recently? I totally get that! I’ve been struggling for over a month now with my 21-month-old to keep his nap. We’re down to a nap a day from a very long time.

Luckily, Jensine Casey from BabyOandI.com has some amazing tips for us today. Keep on reading to find more about how to get a toddler to nap consistently.


Toddlers can be tricky, strong-willed and independent little people, and at
such a young age! Speaking as a mom of a toddler myself, I know some days I just look at him and wonder who this independent small man is in my home!

Most mom’s saving grace during the day is nap time, and long naps at that, so you have some time to yourself to recharge, get things done, or just “Netflix and chill” until the afternoon shift starts.

But…what do you do if your toddler doesn’t nap at all, or doesn’t nap consistently?

Find some helpful tips below to get your toddler back into bed and you some must deserve “me” time during the day!

At what age should your child nap until?

For children 12 months (that’s on the early end) to 3 years old, I
recommend one nap a day after lunch time (so around 12:30).

Toddlers need about 2.5-3 hours of sleep during the day, so that is how long you should aim to keep them in their crib during nap times.

Why won’t your child nap? Have a nap time routine

My first question to parents is always to look into the bedtime routine when
questioning why naps are not going well.

Overall a child should be in their bed sleeping for about 12 hours, with the time the wakeup being 12 hours after bedtime. If your child is not getting enough nighttime sleep, they often become overtired and overstimulated from the day and are not able to settle themselves down for naps.

Bedtime routines are established before nap times are, so if this is something that is not happening in your house, first, ensure bedtimes are buttoned up tight and your child is falling asleep independently before looking into naps.

If your child is doing great sleeping for those 12 hours overnight, then come back and revisit the nap.

Mistakes you’re probably doing

  • Are you attempting to put them down too late or too early?
  • What are your child’s signs that they are getting tired?
  • Do you have a naptime routine that you follow?

Overtired often can look like “not tired” so make sure you are able to clearly read your child’s cues to know when they need to be put down for a nap.

Don’t overschedule

With so many playgroups, music classes and swim lessons available to
children are it easy to overschedule and often be missing out on nap times.

Toddlers CRAVE structure and routine and need it to set their internal
body clocks to get tired at the same time every day and night. Make sure that there is time set aside (and the same time set aside) every day for 2-3
hours after lunch where nothing is scheduled so your child can get the rest
that they need.

You put them in their room, but they won’t sleep

Toddlers are natural boundary pushers. They are learning how to manipulate everything around them, parents included!

Every toddler is looking for the structure and routine, so as a parent it is up to you to give them that structure so they know what to expect and what not to expect.

Consistency from parents is the number one difference I see in toddlers who nap well and sleep well at night and the toddlers who don’t.

If the boundaries aren’t held up 100% of the time, they will push to see how
much they can get away with (and they will be persistent in that pushing)
but end up feeling insecure when they are able to get their way as they no
longer know where the limit is.

So my number one advice is BE CONSISTENT!

Rewards are for everyone!

Have something fun for your child to look forward to when the nap is over. I am a big believer in prizes being experiences over physical things, so a prize can be something like getting to bake a special snack with mom or getting a trip to the playground.

Sticker charts work well with older toddlers, although the reward needs to be immediate to work, not delayed (i.e – collecting stickers to get a larger prize).

Having your toddler nap in their own room is also a prize for you as you will get more alone time for yourself!

Predictable, scheduled nap time is all you need to get your toddler
sleeping soundly again!

Yes, you may be turning down social situation and playdates, but I promise, a happy well rested toddler is totally worth it!

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