Today I want to talk a little bit about little ones playing in their cot or crib at naptime If you’ve got a child who’s not sleeping well, the idea that they might be playing in their cot is probably pretty crazy to you, but it happens. If you’ve got a child who can sleep well, can sleep independently, feels great about their cot, is happy to go there when it’s sleep time, you will find that there will be periods in your child’s life where they’re having a party in their cot all by themselves.
I can remember going through it with my little boy, specifically, around naptime I’d put him down for his nap, and he’d be sat playing in there, for an hour or more, creating distractions, shouting for attention and throwing his toys around before he finally fell asleep.
On speaking to some parents, I find some fairly common themes to their questions… ‘What should I do? He’s in there playing and he’s supposed to be napping, or when he’s supposed to be going to sleep at night. I don’t know what to do?’
My advice is:
To definitely not to make a big deal about it. It’s often a developmental phase that you’re child’s going through. It often happens between one and two years of age. It’s mainly due to the acquisition of new skills, especially language. They’re learning so much at such a rapid pace, they need time to process that.
They often do it by babbling, singing or talking, and that’s part of the process of just organizing all this new information. My first piece of advice is try not to panic about it. If your child’s in there for an hour or an hour and a half, shouting, singing, and having fun, yes, they didn’t sleep, but it was still a break. You got a break. They got a break. It’s still a rest because there’s limited stimulation in their cot. You can just call it naptime Go in, get your child out, and proceed with your day.
You can wait it out!
If he or she doesn’t nap then move bedtime a little earlier, by 30 minutes or 6:30pm, to compensate for that. It usually fades out in a week or two, and then they go back to napping well. Same thing with bedtime. It could just be, developmentally, that your child 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 please feel free to reach out to me for guidance.
I find that most toddlers will happily take a nap, but then at bedtime want to have a party until 9pm. If that’s happening into the third or fourth week, it’s definitely time to look at the nap. Otherwise, I want you to just let it go. It boils down to what I say often – you can’t force someone to sleep.
You could go in there and try to help, but if they aren’t going to sleep, just yet this probably won’t help. You just remind yourself that you’re giving them ample opportunity to take a great nap, get to bed on time, get a full night’s sleep. You’ve given them all the skills they need to be an excellent sleeper, and the rest is up to them. If they want to play for an hour before passing out, fine. If they want to play through the whole nap, ‘Oh well?!’. Rest assured, it’s not going to last forever. It’s an important part of their development and one of our most overused phrases “it’s just a phase!!’ 🙂
For more sleeping tips read Is Co-Sleeping Dangerous for your Baby?