If your child has dropped their sacred naptime (such a sad day!) that doesn’t mean the end of quiet time. That’s right, you heard me! Quiet time is not only beneficial for kids it also gives parents a much-needed midday break. If your child has dropped their nap and you’re not getting a minute to yourself during the day, read more for some helpful ways you can implement quiet time.
Quiet Time for Toddlers
What is quiet time?
Quiet time is a set time of unstructured, calm time for your child where they engage in independent play typically in your child’s room. This time takes place in your child’s bedroom and is an opportunity for their minds, bodies and brains to restore, rest, and slow down. Remain consistent with quiet time in order to avoid power struggles. This will help your child know to expect it each day. Quiet time should become part of your child’s daily routine, just like breakfast, going to school, getting ready for bed, etc.
When is the right time to implement quiet time?
In an ideal world, your child will continue napping for as.long.as.possible. When your child consistently skips their nap or bedtime becomes a struggle and your child isn’t falling asleep until late in the evening (beyond 9 or 10pm), it’s time to consider dropping the nap. I want to reiterate that you should keep your child’s nap for as long as possible. Most children drop their nap between the ages of 3-5 years old so don’t drop it too early!
You should start quiet time at the same time your child used to take their nap, that is their naturally predisposed time for sleep and rest. Quiet time is even beneficial for older children, ages 6+, to allow them time to reset their minds and bodies. Usually quiet time gets easier to implement as your child gets older and can play in their room on their own without needing a parent to help.
How long should quiet time be?
Ideally, quiet time should last anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. When you start to implement quiet time, start with a 15-minute time increment and work your way up. As you probably know, children thrive off of a consistent and predictable routine. Once you start offering quiet time at the same time each day, your child will start to expect it.
Providing a visual cue for your child to see the time progress during quiet time can be very helpful. This can be accomplished by using a timer or an ok to wake clock that has a built in nap timer, like the Rest+ from Hatch. You can set the clock to turn green when quiet time is over, which indicates to your child that quiet time is over. This visual timer is a GREAT way to signal to your child how much time they have left to play in their room.
How To Implement Quiet Time
Every child is different, but I’ve outlined some tips and ideas below depending on your situation.
Your child naps some days but not regularly and you think that the end of naps may be coming
You will want to offer naps as long as your child takes them but if they only nap a few days during the week, you will start to introduce quiet time on the days they are not napping. Some children respond well if you allow them to choose which days they will nap versus which days they will have quiet time. This gives them power in the situation, which helps you to avoid those power struggles (e.g. tantrums!).
Your child stopped napping and you are looking for a way to introduce or reintroduce a daily quiet time
Start slow. Introduce quiet time in 15-minute increments and gradually increase it until quiet time is at least 45 minutes. If your child won’t stay in their room without you, you can introduce quiet time by staying in their room with them. Bring something quiet for you to do, too; a book, crossword puzzle, or maybe even a guided meditation. Try to use this time to be quiet and relaxed. This will show your child what quiet time is intended for. If your child tries to play with you or is not calming down, try to keep your interactions and playing to a minimum.
Once they start to get more comfortable with it, then you can let them know that you will have your quiet time in your room, and they will have quiet time in theirs. Do your best to keep them in their room during quiet time, even if this means adding this to their behavior chart. The more consistent you are with having them stay in their room for quiet time, the more likely they will stay in their room without pushing that boundary.
What to do during quiet time?
A great way to make quiet time special for your child is to make a quiet time bin or box and offer it to your child only at quiet time. These quiet time activities can include books, coloring books, blocks, and other calming activities that your child can do without your help. Only allowing them to use these items during quiet time will make quiet time a special part of their day. The ultimate goal is that your child will stay in their room, play quietly with their toys and play independently. This can take time and practice, just as any new skill does!
Quiet Time Activities
Here some different toys and activities that children can do during quiet time. If you need more ideas, check out my post on this!
- Coloring / art activities
Consistency is key with children. Keep offering naps for as long as possible and immediately introduce quiet time once you’ve determined that the nap is no longer part of your child’s day. With time, quiet time will be a time for peace and quiet for all of you, and a time for your child to play quietly!
Need more customized help with your child’s naps (or lack therof)? I’m here to help!
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Hi, Thank you for sharing this information. I run a home daycare and have 5 children. One 18 month old who sleeps from 30min – 1.5 hours. two 2 year olds, one 3 year old and one 4 year old. The four year old naps for an hour and half. The other three kiddos don’t nap and won’t stay quiet or stay on their cots. It is a huge struggle. Any advice would be much appreciated. 🙂
Thanks for the question Dawn! I’d recommend trying to wind down the older children 30-45 minutes before the nap so their minds and bodies are calm and ready for naptime. I’d also recommend a dark room with white noise on for an ideal room environment.