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 around 1 pm. 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.
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.
Here are five summer child 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, make sure to 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!
Written by Lori Strong, Certified Child Sleep Consultant & Founder of Strong Little Sleepers in Austin, Texas
Lori Strong is a graduate of the Family Sleep Institute, a top child sleep consultant certification program, and is the Founder of Strong Little Sleepers in Austin Texas. Lori has always had a passion for teaching and helping people and was an elementary school teacher and reading specialist for 8 years in New York and Pennsylvania before she had kids. Lori and her husband moved to Austin, TX when she was 34 weeks pregnant. They were told at a birth class we attended that most first-borns are easy babies and would normally sleep well. The birth of their son, Jonah, brought a lot of confusion. Why did this child need to be held all of the time? Why did he scream every time they put him down? And why did he want to only sleep on Lori for the first four months of his life? Lori was exhausted and had to figure out all of this on her own because they didn’t live near any family.
Lori read every baby book and sleep book she could find and in time, she had a child that was sleeping on his own for naps and sleeping 12 hours at night every night. Friends and family told her she was just lucky that she had a good sleeper, but Lori knew that it was something she worked hard to have.
Determined to give her daughter, Simone, a better sleep foundation from the start, Lori put into practice what she learned a few months too late with her son. They paid careful attention to their new baby’s sleepy cues and began placing her in her crib for naps early on. They were amazed at how easily she was able to put herself to sleep because they provided her with a good sleep environment from the start. She also became a great sleeper.
Over the past 6 years, Lori has worked with friends to get their babies to sleep through the night. She helped them organize their nap schedules, gave them advice on how to handle traveling in different time zones (we travel a lot!), taught them how to swaddle the right way, and how to get over other bumps in the sleep road. When the opportunity arose for Lori to become certified as a sleep consultant by pioneer sleep consultant Deborah Pedrick of the Family Sleep Institute, she jumped at the chance because she knew she could do more than just help her friends and family. Being certified through the Family Sleep Institute gave Lori the chance to not only read and do more research about sleep, but it also gave her access to many case studies and discussions that she would have never had. Lori continues to seek professional development so that she can give your family the most up to date information about sleep.
When Lori is not helping other families get a good night’s sleep, she enjoys traveling with family, cooking, gardening, reading by herself and with her children, and kickboxing. She also loves the occasional weekend when she gets to sleep late. She is excited to welcome you to Strong Little Sleepers and looks forward to helping your entire family get the sleep they deserve.
Visit www.stronglittlesleepers.com for more information.
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