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How To Get Children to Nap: The Monitor Hack You Need To Try Right Away

How To Get Children To Nap:  The Monitor Hack You Need To Try Right Away

I recently worked with an amazing mom named Erin, who came to me out of desperation when her 20 month old started taking FOREVER to fall asleep at bedtime and at naptime. If you’re one of the many people who don’t know how to get children to nap then this article is for you.  Erin had such success with the idea I suggested to her that I just had to share the sleep hack with you.

What was the problem?

Erin came to me asking if there is a 2 year old sleep regression. Could it be recent teething messing up her sleep? What had happened to her sweet little girl that was predictable at napping and sleeping through the night?  Caroline was missing naps and still taking forever to fall asleep at bedtime.

I always love to blame development or teething as to why things get off.  BUT, blame isn’t going to get things back on track.

Erin’s husband even said something crazy – “It must be time to get rid of the nap.” To which both Erin and I responded, “HELL NO!”

(Note to many parents out there…. Sleep will ebb and flow many times as your child grows, but under no circumstance would I suggest dropping a 2 year old’s nap.  That’s just crazy talk.  Naps are needed for a long time – to keep your child well rested and for the sanity of the caretaker!)

How A Sleep Reminder Can Help Children Nap!

Through my interview with Erin, I learned that Caroline was getting the age appropriate amount of sleep and had the skills to fall asleep independently (even if it was taking hours to fall asleep for naps and bedtime).

The good news is that we didn’t have to come up with a plan to teach her independent sleep skills, we just had to let Caroline know it was time to sleep.  I suggested trying a sleep reminder (a gentle reminder to help your child go to sleep).  Sometimes babies or toddlers get so caught up in the “play” aspect of being in their crib, that they forget about the important “sleep” thing that they SHOULD be doing.

The purpose of the sleep reminder was to remind Caroline that it’s time for sleep.

Rather than going into Caroline’s, room which could potentially be stimulating; I recommended that Erin talk through her video monitor.  

I always recommend a video monitor that has the 2-Way Communication feature like these video monitors.  In case you think that video monitors are too expensive; well they are. But they are totally worth it. I am still using my monitor 6 years later. So perhaps consider it a great investment for your child.

Sometimes babies or toddlers get so caught up in the “play” aspect of being in their crib, that they forget about the important “sleep” thing that they SHOULD be doing.

It’s not difficult to know how to get your children to nap with these rules:

    • After 30 minutes of playing, give a reminder through the monitor. Think short and sweet when communicating… Say something like “Time for Night Night Caroline.  Nap Time.  It’s time for sleep!”  Simple is best to make sure your child can understand what you are saying.
    • Try another sleep reminder again through the monitor 30 minutes later, and then again every 30 minutes thereafter until nap time is complete. (I always recommend keeping your child in their crib or bed for 1.5 to 2 hours total). At a minimum your child should be resting, even if they aren’t going to fall asleep.
    • Once the allotted period is up, get the child and get on with your day; but put your child down early enough to compensate for the missed nap.
    • If you don’t have a video monitor, never fear! Just stand outside the door and say the same type of mantra phrase.
  • Be prepared that this won’t work for your child (remember, it’s a hack and what hack is fool proof anyway?).  It’s possible that the video monitor may freak your child out, especially if they have never heard your voice through it.  Erin didn’t think it would work either.  But, guess what, it did!

What were the results of using the video monitor hack?

Erin was ecstatic and shocked that it worked!  One week later, here’s how awesome things are going:

Day 1: After 30 minutes Erin gave a sleep reminder, Caroline cried for 1 minute and laid down and went to sleep.  She slept for 2 hours!

Day 2: Caroline went to sleep!

Day 3: Sleep reminder at 30 minute mark, Caroline went right to sleep.

Day 4: Sleep reminder at 30 minute mark, and again went right to sleep.

Day 5: No sleep reminder needed.  Just went to sleep!

Day 6: No sleep reminder needed.  Just went to sleep! Yeah!

Erin’s email to me: “I am forever in your debt.”  Now, she is a little scared that the magic is going to wear off (which totally could happen!)  But, now she knows what to expect and how to get Caroline sleeping again.  Plus, she loves that napping is back in action and she didn’t have to do anything more than say a few words into the monitor.

Will the Video Monitor Hack Work for You?

Getting your child to nap using the video monitor hack isn’t magic at all.  It’s using your reassuring voice to help jostle your cute little child out of their play period and remind them that it’s time to sleep.

    • If your child is freaked out by hearing your voice through the monitor, give it a week and try again later.  If they are freaked out again, don’t continue to use it.
    • The perfect age to try this approach is between 18 months and up. Of course, you can always try earlier and it may work, but I don’t want to get your hopes up.  Erin actually tried something similar with Caroline at 11 months and it was a huge fail.  That’s why she was so skeptical.  Bu remember that as your kids get older, they can cognitively understand simple phrases you are trying to communicate much easier.
    • Never do too much of a good thing.  While I think using the video monitor can work for you, I don’t want to create a new habit that you must break down the road.
  • Remember, this is a hack or a trick.  I am crossing all my fingers and toes rooting for you; but it isn’t the only way to get children to nap.  You may have to figure out other ways using gentler or not so gentle guidance.

Comment Below:  Do you think this is a technique you could use in your home? Now you’ll never wonder how to get children to nap. You have this trick (and other ways to get your toddler or preschooler to sleep). Let me know if the video monitor hack works for you!!

Susie Parker

Susie Parker is founder of Sleep Baby Love and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. When Susie's not ridding the world of sleepless families, she loves spending time with her two girls that have given her a ton of real world sleep experience head on.

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