After checking out this list from Elizabeth Pantley's The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems (pg. 115), I see that my youngest child is in need of a daily nap:
· Resists the idea of a nap but eventually falls asleep and sleeps an hour or longer.
· Wakes up in the morning in a good mood but gets whiny and cranky as the day progresses.
· Has more patience early in the day but is more easily aggravated later on.
· Cries more often or more easily in the evening than she does early in the day.
· Demonstrates a deterioration in his coordination over the course of the day.
· Shows tired signs in the afternoon or early evening such as yawning, rubbing eyes, a slump in energy, or looking slightly glazed.
· Late in the day, becomes wired up or hyperactive and won't settle down easily.
· Often falls asleep in the car or when watching a movie.
But what about my 7 year old? Surely she's too old for one, right? Turns out, it is entirely possible to implement a "Hush Hour" for children who are completely nap resistant. A Hush Hour is a daily quiet-time break from noise and activity that works well as a nap substitute. It is perfect for a child who is giving up naps but still needs a half-time break during the day, for a child who is just too wired or overtired to sleep, as well as for a child who flat out refuses to nap but whose parents (like me) desperately need that child to nap to preserve their patience.
Elizabeth Pantley recommends setting up a block of quiet time designed to refresh your child's mind and body but constructing an environment that encourages relaxation. Choose a place that would work for a nap, removing toys that might entice a child who is supposed to be resting. Regulate the temperature so it is comfortable, probably between 60 and 70 degrees, and remember to use a humidifier, dehumidifier or air purifier if necessary. Help ease the transition into restfulness by darkening the room, and consider using relaxing music or white noise to provide a calming auditory experience. Once this is done, Pantley advises setting up a cozy nest, adding some relaxing smells with essential oils, and making sure your little one eats some foods that encourage rest. Some winners, besides breast milk, include whole-grain carbohydrates, bananas, avocadoes, tree nuts or nut butters, and warm goat, cow or soy milk.
To read more about Elizabeth Pantley's ideas, and hear our interview on The Mommy-Muse Is In: Empowering Your Journey into Motherhood, click here: Sleep Expert on The Mommy-Muse Is In.