Afternoon nap in daycare: blessing or curse?

At the childminder or in the kindergarten: After lunch we sleep. Whether the kids are tired or not. This is usually everyday life in many institutions. Because the afternoon nap is considered important and healthy for the development of children. But what if that harmless afternoon nap becomes a family problem? A field report.

Three evenings a week our nerves are on edge on all sides at home. These are the days when the two-year-old mini man slept with our childminder at noon. Then he mutates into a wild bouncy ball that just won’t rest. After his usual evening ritual, it takes him hours to finally fall asleep. Little eyes often don’t close until 11 p.m.

Since either mum or dad stays with him until then, a parent practically only goes to bed himself afterwards. The other has the pleasure of taking care of the household on his own. Time to calmly discuss important things of the day or to relax together, dandy! The next morning all too often begins with a grumpy child who hasn’t slept enough.

On the other days when he is only briefly or not at all in the care, he has been doing without his nap at noon for a long time. Instead, we look at books together in bed or cuddle. In the evening he falls asleep immediately after his bedtime story. Without bouncy ball mode, flying cuddly toys or climbing activities in bed. From about eight o’clock in the evening until the next morning he sleeps peacefully, without interruptions.

The afternoon nap disturbs the night’s sleep

Researchers have found that napping in children from the age of two can increasingly interfere with nocturnal sleep . They get tired later, fall asleep later and usually sleep less well through the night. Other children, on the other hand, need their midday nap for a long time to come. The number of hours they need to sleep to recover also varies greatly from child to child.

Accordingly, a colorful mixture of sleeping habits and sleeping needs comes together with the childminders or in the kindergartens. Not every facility has the flexibility to respond. The reasons are different: there are no suitable rooms that are tailored to the individual needs of the children, there is a lack of staff who can look after the awake children. In some cases, there may also be a lack of willingness to look after the awake children because the educators or childminders themselves need a break.

The widespread notion that small children need their afternoon nap, especially in the turbulent day-to-day life of the day-care center, had a dogmatic character for me. After all, the many new impressions have to be processed, according to experts, anything else is not healthy. Logical and understandable. For me, that was the explanation for a long time as to why our mini man slept with the childminder but no longer with us at lunchtime. An exhausted child sleeps, of course. The daily routine, a darkened room, the dizziness after eating, the sleep of the other children do the rest to jump the threshold to sleep. Of course, the childminder’s desire for quiet and the request to sleep also play a role.

Goodbye nap! My son doesn’t need you anymore

It wasn’t until after a two-week vacation that it clicked in our parents’ heads: Our mini man no longer needs a nap. Because even with a short break around lunchtime, he was consistently relaxed and balanced. In the evening there was no hour-long theater until he fell asleep, no restlessness at night and in the morning he woke up refreshed. There was no sign that he missed a midday nap.

After a conversation with our childminder, we felt even more confirmed. Our mini man doesn’t seem really tired at lunchtime either, he takes by far the longest to calm down and is often the first to wake up. But what now?

Eliminate afternoon naps in daycare: is that possible?

The situation is difficult: on the one hand there is the well-being of our mini man and our family home blessing, on the other hand there are four other tired, mostly younger children and a childminder who has to do everything on her own. Of course we could now demand that she stop putting our child down to sleep. But what then? How is the childminder supposed to comply with our request? In the worst case, the mini man still suffers because he would be torn out of his usual routine.

We have therefore decided to endure the three strenuous bouncy evenings a week. Clench your teeth and wait. Because in two months our mini man will be a kindergarten child. During the taster day we were already able to calm down. Because no child has to sleep there. There is a sleeping area, a cozy corner with books and educators who are prepared so that not everyone in a mixed-age group has the same need for sleep. What will our mini man decide then? Will the new hustle and bustle of the day-care center be so demanding that he actually needs his nap again? We are excited!

Does your child still need a nap?

Do you recognize our difficulties? Then it is advisable to keep a sleep log for two weeks. So you know exactly how much your child sleeps and what influence the afternoon nap has on his sleeping behavior. If you also decide that the time for napping is over, it makes sense to say goodbye to it and introduce a rest period instead. In our magazine you can find comprehensive information on the topic of “problems with the afternoon nap” .

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