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How to Get Toddlers to Nap at Daycare

by Lucie Westminster, studioD

According to KidsHealth.org, your toddler not only requires 10 to 13 hours of sleep, but also likely needs an additional nap of one to three hours. Unless your little one stays at home with you each day, he needs to nap comfortably at daycare. To ensure a pleasant and restful nap, take a few steps to increase the chances he'll go to sleep happy and wake up a well-rested and active toddler.

Speak to your daycare provider about setting up an environment conducive to napping. The location should be quiet and away from distractions like toys and television. Your child isn't the only one who would rather play with his favorite building blocks than take time-out to re-energize. Separating the place she plays and the place she naps helps her fall asleep more quickly.

Purchase a comfortable nap mat or blanket for use at daycare. Bring your toddler with you and allow him to choose his favorite color or pattern. Allowing him choice keeps him excited about using the mat and gives him pride in ownership. Therefore, when it comes time to use the special mat at daycare, he will be more excited to use it during nap time.

Request your daycare provider establish some type of nap time routine. Similar to your own bedtime routine, a toddler is more likely to nap if she expects the event and goes through the same pre-nap motions like going to the bathroom and listening to a story each day before her afternoon nap.

Select a children's book like "Naptime" by Elizabeth Verdick that reinforces the importance of napping and read it with your toddler. Ideally, read this at home and talk with your child about how naps keep him happy and healthy, and give him enough energy to play and run during other times of the day.

Items you will need
  •  Nap mat
  •  Children's books on napping


  • Be consistent with your child during home nap time. Speak to your daycare provider about her nap time routine and stick with it at home. Consistency on the weekends or days he isn't at daycare helps him nap better every day of the week.


  • Don't force your toddler to sleep if he insists on staying awake. However, at this young age, ask your daycare provider to provide your active toddler with some quiet time, even if he refuses to sleep during that quiet hour or two.

About the Author

Based in Texas, Lucie Westminster has been a writer and researcher since 1975. Her work has been published in journals such as "Psychological Reports" and "Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior." Westminster's interests include developmental psychology, children, pets and crafting. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Miami University.

Photo Credits

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