“Little Tike…party for one?”
Let’s talk about when you're wanting to pull your hair out because your little tike would rather have play time in his crib than take his nap. All of us moms have dealt with this at one point or another, so don’t feel like you’re alone. Whether you have a child who is not sleeping well for his naps and bedtime, or you have one who sleeps independently and is happy to go to his crib at sleep time, you will find that there will be periods in your little tike’s life where he’s having a party in the crib all by himself.
Nap time is when you see this occur the most. You put him down for his nap, then he “parties” for an hour or so before he finally falls asleep. Sound familiar? I get asked question like, “What should I do? He’s in there playing and he’s supposed to be napping”, or “He’s supposed to be going to sleep at night. I don’t know what to do? Should I make him stop? Tell him to lay down?”
My advice is to do nothing. Yes, that’s right…do nothing. It’s often a developmental phase that you’re little tike is going through. This phase often happens around the eighteenth month to two year mark. It has a lot to do with language acquisition. They’re learning so much at such a rapid pace, they need time to process it.
Babies often do this by babbling, singing, or talking, and that’s just part of the process of in organizing all this new information. Try not to panic about it. If your child’s in there for an hour, hour and a half, shouting, and singing, and having fun, yes, they didn’t sleep, but it was still a break. You got a break. He got a break. It’s still rest because there’s limited chances of him tiring himself out even more by running a marathon in his crib. Call it a nap, go in, get your child out of his crib, and proceed with your day.
If this happens, you may need to move bedtime a little earlier to try and compensate for him being a little more tired than usual, but try not to panic. This “party for one” usually fades out in a week or two, and then he’ll go back to napping well. Same thing with bedtime. It could just be that developmentally, he needs some time to play, and talk, and do all this stuff. Give it a week or two and see if it goes away on its own. If it doesn’t, then you may need to look at eliminating the daytime nap.
You’re giving him ample opportunity to take a great nap, get to bed on time, and sleep a perfect night. If he wants to play through the whole nap, “Oh well.”
Remember, this won’t last forever. It’s just an important part of your little tike’s development.