One of the things that Le Répertoire de Gaspard childcare students often ask me for is tips for nap time. They talk to me about is how to manage the nap time routine. Either the child doesn’t want to nap, wants to nap at a time different to when scheduled in their routine, or there are difficulties in getting the child to sleep (even if they are tired!)
I thought it would be useful if I put together 4 key tips for nap time:
1) Keep it cosy
Sounds obvious, but if it’s light, noisy and uncomfortable children won’t feel very enthusiastic about getting 40 winks.
Dim the lights, quieten down the noise and give them a comfortable space to lie down in. The ideal room temperature should be 19-20°c.
2) Get on the Transition train
Not only a popular and accepted tool in France (developed by Winnicott who was American) but taught as a tool in the CAP diploma syllabus and one of the tips for nap time is the doudou, a comfort toy. The idea is that each child has a transitional object to manage their emotions in times of absence or need as they transition from one situation to another, to avoid anxiety and stress. This is always a hot topic of debate with my students.
At nap time the doudou is useful to focus the child’s mind on getting on the train to nap. It doesn’t have to be a soft toy of course. It can be a dummy, piece of cloth, I’ve even heard of children using a sock.
Really address the space between what you are doing and nap time as an opportunity to change scene. Put on some sleepy music, read a story or do a calm activity with the children. Want to learn more about the sensory development of children? Read our blog post for 5 activity ideas!
It is true that there is a part of digestion that makes us feel sleepy. However if a child has eaten food too soon before nap time they will have a spike in energy that will prevent them from getting to sleep! Equally if they have eaten too much, too little or are hungry because they ate so long ago. We just need to be mindful of when and what they eat when we plan their nap. In between meals is usually the best time. Want some ideas of great foods to help children sleep? Check out this list!
4) Perseverance pays
Children respond to and need routine, but they won’t always get it the first time! Don’t give up. This is possibly the most important of the tips for nap time. If something isn’t working, ask why before you drop it.
Want some more childcaring tips? Check out our blog post to hear some more!