Dear Dr. Rene,
My two-year-old still takes an afternoon nap for one to three hours each afternoon. I’ve noticed if the afternoon nap is long, or if he naps later in the afternoon, he has trouble going to sleep at the regular 8:00 p.m. bedtime or wakes up during the night. If he skips nap or naps for a short time, he is cranky by 5:00 p.m. Any suggestions?
Lee, Mother of One
One thing that might help is being more consistent with your naptime routine. Naps benefit from being at the same time, in the same place everyday. It may also be helpful to build in a short naptime routine to aid the transition. If long naps seem to interfere with night-time sleep, the idea is to gradually make naps shorter. Think about waking them up 15 minutes earlier each week. If they have been at three hour naps, wake them at two hours and 45 minutes consistently. The next week, two hours and 30 minutes until it seems to be the right amount of nap and doesn’t impact night time sleep. Also, be sure nap starts by 1:00 p.m. at the latest so they might be back up around 3:00 p.m. This will avoid bumping into bedtime.