Dear CMP,

My two-year-old son has serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and doesn’t want to take naps. He takes naps at preschool but battles them at home – sometimes it takes 3+ hours to get him to sleep and then we waste our whole day.

We have a routine where we read books before nap and we don’t let him leave his bed until he naps. Do you have any other suggestions to make nap time easier and more enjoyable?

Baby taking a nap

Creating and implementing an effective nap routine is sometimes easier said than done. Especially if your little one is refusing to take a nap.

Trying to solve this age-old parenting dilemma, with a one size fits all approach, often leads to frustration.

Intuitively, we know naps are important for young children. Sleep supports learning, memory growth, and happiness for everyone involved.

Understanding that between the ages of 18-24 months and again at 36 to 42 months, children experience a cognitive growth spurt, often leading to a desire for autonomy, can be a useful bit of information. Fighting naps is just one of many things that children do to flex their independence muscles.

You mention spending 3+ hours trying to wrangle him to nap. It’s possible that he no longer needs the extra sleep. Don’t force it. Difficulty falling asleep, skipping naps, while showing no negative side effects, (grouchiness, fatigue) are indicators that he might be outgrowing them.

However, if your child nods off late in the afternoon, shows increased aggression or crankiness, it’s not the time to put away the blanket yet.

Try changing strategies, and swap it out for 30 to 60 minutes of quiet alone time looking at books or cuddling with a favorite snuggle /quiet toy. Taking a break in a relaxing and calm environment is important for everyone.

Establishing simple pre-nap and naptime routines are equally important for nap time success. Stick to a sleep schedule, and that includes bedtime, wake up and naptime. Routines help trigger everyone’s natural body clock.

Altering times can throw off internal circadian rhythms, causing you to miss that sweet spot of slumber and run head on into a serious case of the grumps.

Don’t help too much. Though the path to napping is often paved with good intentions, being overly involved can create a situation that your child can’t fall asleep on his own. Who wouldn’t love lunch and show? Create a calming atmosphere conducive for sleep. Read a book together, dim the lights, turn off the T.V., and turn on meditation music. Follow your routines. Remember, routines help trigger the body clock, sending silent signals that it is time to unwind.

Childhood is a glorious time for exploring the world, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. With their new-found skill sets and growing sense of adventure, FOMO is just one of many experiences to be navigated through.