The nap conundrum: The nap dropping toddler

Parenting and life

As a parent to a baby or toddler, there are few things – OK nothing – quite as glorious as nap time.

For a brief moment you can stop being a parent, make a hot beverage (and actually drink it) and take all the lengthy toilet breaks you desire. You can consume whatever kind of biscuits or snacks you like and you don’t have to do it hiding in the kitchen.

You could take a nap yourself, if you fancied. You might even get some housework done, although quite honestly that would be a foolish waste of this most precious time.

When not poorly, teething, or being a pain in the arse for unspecified reasons, my two year old loves her sleep.

Admittedly she took a while to get there, but by the time she was seven months or so she would go down for two fairly lengthy naps a day as well as a decent sleep at night.

At one point I distinctly remember worrying that she was barely awake. I may have even mentioned it to a Health Visitor. What an idiot.

Mind you, she only ever napped in her cot.

Never, ever in the buggy (No child of mine has ever napped in a buggy. I feel immense pangs of jealousy when I pass people with pushchairs containing comatose three year olds) and rarely in the car unless trips were timed to perfection.

Because of this, we could never really go anywhere or do anything unless it was at the crack of dawn or over lunch time, but you can’t have everything.

When I returned to work at around 14 months, she cut down to one nap.

This wasn’t such a bad thing; it gave us a little more freedom to actually do things and it was usually a long one, two to three hours. It still allowed my husband and I to spend some time at weekends doing important jobs, like eating pasties for lunch and watching Netflix in the middle of the day.

I guess I took it for granted. I naively assumed she’d go on napping forever.

But then, gradually, around her second birthday and shortly after she had moved into her Big Girl Bed, she started playing up a little at nap time.

With a new baby to look after this was far from welcome news, so we persevered.

She would be happy enough – and usually succumb to a nice long sleep eventually – but sometimes a whole hour would elapse and she would still be chatting away and singing to herself before we’d begrudgingly admit defeat and go in to retrieve her.

When she didn’t sleep, she could barely make it to bedtime without becoming a screaming, tantrumming little nightmare, as you might predict.

This ‘interim period’ was awful. I have no advice, you just have to suck it up and ride it out. On the occasions she would take a nap, sometimes it would all work out fine, but other times she’d go to bed full of beans and spend a good hour singing and playing in the dark before she actually went to sleep.

At some point around Christmas the number of successful naps was vastly becoming outweighed by the number of unsuccessful naps.

The whole thing was becoming a battle. As time went on, she stopped becoming grumpy in the late afternoon and it was clear that we needed to just stop trying and admit it. She didn’t need a nap.

It was a very sad day indeed.

Now, at 26 months, she may fall asleep in the car and (sickeningly) when she is at the childminder’s she goes down fairly easily for an hour so that I can pay someone else to clean their house while I clean mine, but for all intents and tea-drinking, biscuit-eating purposes, the day time nap is dead and buried.


Or is it?

After a truly awful night of constant whinging and 5am wake up (thanks, teeth) resulting in a very weary and consequently stroppy toddler, we thought we would attempt to reintroduce the nap.

She fell asleep and had a good two hours. ‘Hurrah!’ we thought as we ate chocolate and sat on the sofa. ‘The nap is back! Long live the nap!’.

It was a beautiful time. She even appeared tired at bedtime and made no fuss getting into bed.

Thinking she was asleep I went downstairs to make dinner and tidy up all the crap that a toddler and a crawler can distribute around the house in one day. Around an hour later, I switched on the monitor to check all was well and was met by her singing a very tuneful, if not entirely wordperfect, medley of ‘Morningtown Ride’ and ‘Let It Go’ to a stuffed Peppa Pig.

She kept this up for another half hour.

I think it’s safe to say the nap has gone forever.

A moment’s silence for the nap. You were gone long before your time.

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