What to Do When Your Toddler Won't Nap?

Reviewed By

Discover creative solutions and bedtime stories that will have your toddler drifting off to dreamland in no time.

Uploaded on:


Last Reviewed:


Reading time

6 min

Table of contents toggle

Parents often encounter the challenge of convincing their toddlers to embrace naptime willingly. The resistance to daytime rest can be a source of concern for many caregivers. 

In this guide to toddler naps, we delve into practical strategies best tips and insights to address the common scenario when your toddler refuses to nap. By understanding effective approaches to child naps, we aim to provide a resource for parents navigating this aspect of toddlerhood with a sense of assurance and guidance.

Why is your toddler refusing to nap?

Naptime resistance in toddlers can stem from various factors, requiring a bit of detective work to uncover the root cause of each one's sleep issues. Here are some common reasons for sleep regression:

   Changes in routine

Toddlers thrive on routine, and any disruptions, whether due to travel, family events, or changes in daily schedules, can lead many toddlers to resistance during bedtime battles and naptime. Consistency, particularly in the bedtime routine for kids, plays a crucial role in these kids establishing a sense of security.

  Developmental milestones

As toddlers hit developmental milestones, such as learning to walk or talk, they may become more engaged and excited about their newfound abilities. This enthusiasm can translate into a reluctance to take breaks for naps. Understanding how much sleep is and adapting your toddler's room to sleep well to these developmental shifts is essential.

 Environmental factors

The sleep environment significantly impacts a toddler's nap experience. Factors like noise, light, or discomfort can disrupt their ability to fall asleep easily settle down. Creating a calm and comfortable napping environment, akin to the bedtime routine for kids, can positively influence a child's day in naptime habits.

"Epidemiologic research has shown that social features of environments, family, social cohesion, safety, noise, and neighborhood disorder can shape and/or impact sleep patterns; and physical features such as light, noise, traffic, pollution, and walkability can also influence sleep and is related to sleep disorders among adults and children.” 💡National Library of Medicine

7 key steps to do when your toddler refuses to nap

Parenting often involves decoding the intricate dance of a toddler's sleep preferences. If you're currently in the midst of a skirmish with a baby fighting sleep during naptime, rest assured – you're not alone. In this guide, we present seven pivotal steps to navigate the nuances of naptime resistance. 

1. Establish a consistent nap routine

          Create a structured naptime routine to signal to your little one that it's time to wind down. Consistency is key, aligning with a toddler sleep schedule that sets expectations. Consider incorporating calming activities or a favorite story from the StoryBook App as part of this routine to create a soothing transition to naptime.

Example of a routine including nap times: 

Explore our recommended collection on the StoryBook App for a delightful selection of storybooks. Let the journey to peaceful naps begin!

3 Millions of families already trust us

The #1 app for parents and kids in more than 150 countries.

2. Create a sleep-enhancing environment

Craft a conducive sleep environment by minimizing noise, dimming lights, and ensuring comfort. A serene atmosphere supports better sleep, aligning with optimal conditions for your toddler's rest.

3. Encourage sleep cues and associations

Establish consistent cues that signal bedtime, such as a favorite blanket or a gentle lullaby. Positive sleep associations help your toddler transition smoothly into naptime or bedtime routines.

4. Address overtiredness and overstimulation

Keep an eye on your toddler's activity level and adjust the nap schedule accordingly. Overtiredness or overstimulation can hinder sleep. Ensure a balance of activities throughout the day to prevent these disruptions.

5. Manage separation anxiety 

Recognize and address separation anxiety by offering reassurance and gradually introducing brief periods of separation. 

Highlights that this phase is normal, and most children experience it between 18 months and 3 years old. 
Cedars Sinai 

6. Adapt to changes and transitions

Toddlers experience various developmental and lifestyle changes. Stay adaptable to these transitions, adjusting the nap routine as needed. Be attuned to shifts in your toddler's needs, ensuring a flexible approach to accommodate new phases.

7. Evaluate when to drop naps

As your toddler grows, their nap requirements may change. Pay attention to signs of readiness to drop naps, such as extended periods of wakefulness during the day or difficulty falling asleep at the usual naptime. 

Evaluate your toddler's sleep patterns to determine when it might be appropriate to transition away from certain naps while ensuring they still get the necessary total hours of sleep.

Furthermore, incorporating the concept of 'wake windows by age' can be beneficial in refining their sleep routine and ensuring optimal rest.

Tips for encouraging naps in toddlers

Encouraging toddlers to embrace naptime can sometimes feel like a subtle art. Fear not! Here are some naptime simple tips to turn those resistance moments into peaceful, restful interludes:

  • 🛌🏻 Establish a consistent naptime routine signaling the transition to naptime, creating a sense of predictability for your toddler.
  • 🙇🏻 Ensure the sleep environment is cozy and conducive to rest, minimizing disruptions like noise or excessive light.
  • 🎵 Introduce comforting sleep cues, like a favorite stuffed animal or soothing music, to create positive associations with naptime.
  • 🕐 Keep an eye on your toddler's activity level, preventing overtiredness by scheduling naps appropriately within their daily routine.
  • 💡 Gradually ease separation anxiety by offering reassurance and incorporating short periods of independent play.
  • Stay flexible and adapt naptime routines to accommodate developmental changes or lifestyle transitions.
  • 👀 Pay attention to signs indicating readiness to drop naps, ensuring a smooth transition as your toddler's sleep needs evolve.

3 Millions of families already trust us

The #1 app for parents and kids in more than 150 countries.


More Sleep Posts