10 Secrets to Getting Your Kids to Nap Longer

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Any parent will tell you that when it comes to nap time, the struggle is real. In order to help you out, we’ve collected the best sleeping tips from moms who have spent time on the front lines. From creating a zen vibe to being totally prepped, here’s how to nail nap time, all the time.

photo: Mohammed Fadil via Flickr

For Under 6 Months

1. Be Hands Off
At this age, lots of parents can only get baby to nap with/on Mom or Dad. Try rocking baby close to his crib and as soon as he’s asleep, lay him down with one hand on his stomach and at his side. He’ll probably wake up and fuss for a minute, but keep your hands on him to assure him he’s okay. When he’s drifted back to sleep, remove your hands and walk away.

2. Consistency Is Key
Although it’s tempting to let your little one sleep in the car seat, it’s okay to move a sleeping baby. In fact, it’s downright necessary if you ever hope your baby will sleep in a crib and be a good napper. Each time it’s nap time, try and make sure your baby is in her designated sleeping space.

photo: Abigail Batchelder via Flickr

For 6 – 12 Months

3. Tools of the Trade
Have the tools for happy naps at the ready. Keep baby’s pacifier, sleep sack and sound machine at hand so that if she happens to fall asleep in her chair, it’s easy to transfer her to her crib. Doing this will help cement the fact that when their heads hit the crib mattress, it’s time to doze.

4. Create the Right Climate
There are a lot of potential distractions for babies during the first year of life, so cut out the easy ones: light and noise. Turn on the sound machine, close the blackout curtains and help them get used to knowing that when it’s “night time,” it’s nap time.

5. Let Them Self Soothe
You don’t need to use the CIO method in order to create a champion napper. But, even letting your little one cry for a full minute before charging into the room gives her a chance to simply resettle on her own. Sometimes an instant interruption from Mom will only disrupt sleep further.

photo: Shelley Glapion via Flickr

For Two-Year-Olds

6. Keep It Simple
Don’t get too involved. Although we’re prone to create elaborate routines to get our kids ready to settle, the more elaborate the routine, the more they may rely on it in the long run. Keeping a nap time routine simple (i.e. one quick book as soon as they start rubbing their eyes) is one that you can perform anywhere, which could be the secret behind raising an easy napper.

7. Don’t Force It
Pay attention to sleep schedules. If your child is already getting 12 hours of sleep at night (lucky you) then a two-hour nap might not be what they need. Instead, settle him down when you notice the need for a rest, and encourage him to do so. If your son only needs a 30-minute snooze midday, forcing him to sleep too much could end up ruining his nighttime slumber.

photo: Dan Pearce via Flickr

For Three-and Four-Year-Olds

8. Create a Spa-Like Experience
Cue up soothing spa music, which you can find on any music app. Use a diffuser to pump out a relaxing spa scent (lavender, eucalyptus, etc.). Kids will feel instantly relaxed the same way we immediately get zen vibes when we walk into a spa. Now if only we had time for pedicures.

9. Have Their Favorites on Hand
Kids at this age can go either way with napping, so try thinking about the items needed to get them to nap longer. Keep a sippy cup of water in the crib in case your kiddo wakes up thirsty. Or make sure her favorite lovey is with her in case she needs some extra coaxing during nap time. Whatever it takes, make sure all the tools for a happy sleeper are available.

10. Make It Something to Look Forward To
Change your tone when it comes to gearing kids up for a nap. Make it a thrilling event, with a book they can pick out and an exclamation at how cozy it is to snuggle up and hit the hay. If it helps, let your kid know that it’s time for Mom or Dad to nap too. If she think everyone’s doing it, there will be way less FOMO.

You’ll also love:

How to Tackle Baby and Toddler Nap Time Like a Boss

9 Tips & Tricks to Make Nap Time a Snap

The Secret of How to Have A Play Date During Nap Time

Study Finds That Preschoolers Who Nap Have An Easier Time Learning

Do you have any nap time or sleeping tips? Share with us in a comment below.

—Laura Serino


nap longer

Our Favorite New Parenting Books to Read Right Now

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If your copy of Happiest Baby on the Block is in tatters from all the late-night reading, it might be time to refresh your nightstand. We’ve collected our favorite new releases on the topic of parenting, from laugh-out-loud funny memoirs to new disciplinary methods. Check them out below.

1. Is That The Shirt You’re Wearing? A Memoir in Essays

Over the course of two summers, Kristen Hansen Brakeman decided to journal the details of the small moments as a mom and writer. This memoir is both relatable and funny as if you’re sitting on a porch and shooting the breeze with a best friend. Kristen reminds us of the complications that come along with being a mom, wife, and woman in today’s society. The results? Much like motherhood, it’s a funny and beautiful mess.

Available at amazon.com, $18.


2. The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups

Today all parents struggle with how to raise our kids in a fast-changing, increasingly anti-social society (Raise your hand if you’ve let your toddler play with your iPhone in exchange for five minutes peace.). Leonard Sax’s latest tome is a reminder on how to be an authority figure at home while encouraging kids to stay, well, kids. It’s a must-read for any fans of Sax’s books Boys Adrift and Girls on the Edge.

Available at amazon.com, $12.


3. Man vs. Child: One Dad’s Guide to the Weirdness of Parenting

Warning: Do not read this book in public if you’re prone to snorting. From comedian and actor Doug Moe, this is a laugh-out-loud take on being a new Dad and juggling all that comes with it, from navigating restaurants with a baby to handling full toddler meltdowns. It’s a fun read for any parent but is especially poignant for new Dads.

Available at amazon.com, $10.80.

4. Gentle Discipline: Using Emotional Connection-Not Punishment-To Raise Confident, Capable Kids

When it comes to raising obedient, disciplined kids, shouting and shaming are unnecessary parts of the practice. Sarah Ockwell-Smith introduces new approaches to setting boundaries that instead focus on emotional respect and on building connections between kids and adults of all ages. Bonus: You may never use a “time out” chair again.

Available at amazon.com, $9.90.

5. Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting

We can’t all have a baby nurse or nanny to handle every dirty nappy unless you’re raising your brood in a castle. Carolyn Harris gives us an intriguing look at over 1,000 years of raising monarchs, and how it has changed over time. One key takeaway? Not even the royals have it figured out.

Available at amazon.com, $23.

6. The Awakened Family: How to Raise Empowered, Resilient, and Conscious Children

Parents that have read this guide call it transformative (just check out the Amazon reviews). Author Shefali Tsabary, P.h.D. reminds us that parenting is as much about ourselves as it is about our children. This manual to modern parenting has a focus on parents and how our expectations on our kids can cause more harm than help. It’s a book filled with “a-ha” moments and guaranteed to be chock full of highlighter-worthy passages that might just change how you parent.

Available at amazon.com, $14.


7. Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast

This Italian bestseller is finally available in the U.S. market, and nothing is lost in translation. A micro-anthology of moments and memories from a work-from-home father raising his three daughters in Verona, Italy, it’s also a beautiful homage to marriage and raising children together. Regardless of what country you’re raising a family in, this memoir by Matteo Bussola reminds us that all the struggles and moments of beauty are universal.

Available at amazon.com, $12.


8. Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters

Any parent knows that the struggle between staying home and heading back (so soon!!) to work is real. Erica Komisar, LCSW offers guidance on choosing the right childcare and making the most out of moments with your child during the first three years of life. She also practical approaches for everyone from stay-at-home to career-oriented moms.It’s an excellent read for moms that are constantly juggling a career and parenthood.

Available at amazon.com, $17.

9. The Toddler Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Whiny Unfed

When you think about toddlers, are they really any different than zombies? They all stumble around, drool and generally keep you living in fear. This survival guide from funny husband-wife duo Mike and Heather Spohr covers everything you need to know in case of an invasion, from subduing an angry tot to venturing out in public. A great gift for the stressed out (and slightly terrorized) toddler parent.

Available at amazon.com, $12.

What would you add to the list? Let us know in the Comments below!

— Laura Serino

 All photos courtesy of Amazon

Feature photo: Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash