Summertime is exciting. We get to go on adventures, barbecue, swim, and eat popsicles. It’s easy to get off schedule in the summer and while that is part of what makes it such an exciting season, it can also lead to exhausted children.
If you happen to notice that your children are a little out of sorts, especially in the late afternoon, consider their nap schedule. Are they getting a nap at the correct time of day? Most children who nap need it to begin about 1 p.m. If your child is no longer taking a nap, are you providing him with some quiet time in the afternoon for reading stories or rest? A quality nap or a bit of time to recharge peacefully can help ward off late afternoon monster tantrums.
Lori Strong, Certified Child Sleep Consultant by The Family Sleep Institute and Founder of Strong Little Sleepers in Austin, Texas, offers summer nap tips for families.
“Here in Austin, it can reach over 100 degrees, so we take advantage of indoor activities later in the day since it’s too hot to go outside. Even though we try to avoid extreme heat, my kids still get tired. Amidst all the summer fun and excitement, it’s important to maintain naps to keep kids from becoming overtired, which can lead to unhealthy sleep and behavioral issues,” said Strong.
Here are her nap tips:
1. If your child does not have the opportunity for a nap or quiet time for whatever reason, parents can always resort to an early bedtime to help keep their children well-rested. Many people believe that going to bed early will just cause their child to rise earlier, but in fact, this is not true at all. Sleep begets sleep. An earlier bedtime has been proven to help children sleep longer (and better). This is also true for adults!
2. Watch for your child’s sleepy cues; some common ones are quieting down, becoming fussy, gazing off, rubbing ears and eyes, not interested in toys or playing, and yawning. Once you start seeing these cues, get your baby or toddler down for a nap.
3. Consistency is key! Stick to a consistent daily sleep schedule with eating and nap times, even bed time too. When on vacation, try to stick to the normal schedule or we will add to your child’s sleep debt. A well-rested child will be better able to enjoy daytime activities if things do get off schedule from time to time.
4. Create a soothing routine before naps. This will help your child wind down and relax. Reading books and singing short songs are some good ways to begin a naptime routine. Shutting off TV and other electronic screens leading up to naptime will help your child fall asleep easier.
5. While the temptation may be to keep your kids up until it gets dark outside, it may not be what’s best for them biologically. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have fun this summer. Have a great time! Try to remember how important a routine and sleep is to your child. Chances are, you will have an even better summer if you do!
For more tips visit www.stronglittlesleepers.com.
Lori Strong is a certified Child Sleep Consultant in Austin, Texas, and helps families in Austin and all over the country shape babies and toddler into great sleepers.