My daughter is almost 4, and she dropped her nap a few months ago. However, maybe 2 or 3 days a week she will be exhausted and she DOES sleep. Since her day starts at 6:30am and goes till at least 7pm, it seems like a LONG exhausting day. We’re in the beastly Indian heat, it’s a culture in which everyone likes to lie down for a bit in the afternoon, and she’s taking daily swim lessons plus camp and more. I just don’t get it! I’ve felt a bit frustrated, almost even resentful (like she’s trying to make afternoons difficult), and worried that she’s pushing too hard and not getting the rest she needs. I’ve also felt inconsistent as a parent, because each day I HOPE she will nap but know that she probably won’t.
So yesterday I spoke to a sleep consultant in Mumbai, Dr. Ajita.
She told me that since my daughter is almost 4, the nap is gone. Get over it. Let it go. Instead of a nap, teach her about taking 1 hour of quiet downtime. You don’t have to make the room totally dark, or use white noise. You do have to teach her what to DO during that time, because it will feel awkward for her. You can set an alarm (build up from 30 minutes to 1 hour), so she has a boundary. Explain to her that the rest of the household does need rest and quiet for this time. Ideally she would bring some books and toys into her bed and play with them there.
If there is a day when she happens to fall asleep, it’s fine to sneak in the room and turn off the alarm to let her body rest.
This was helpful to me and gave me clarity. Especially that if we are really and truly done with the nap, that bedtime can be a firm 7pm, no later.
Luckily we’re enjoying the summer and reading lots of books and doing lots of math worksheets, which are nice for us to do when the baby is taking her long afternoon nap. Some of our recent favorites are: