I'm at my wit's end. I just tried for an hour and a half to get her to nap. Tried reading, nursing, even a long car drive. NOTHING is working. I'm also pregnant so I'm feeling highly irritable. How do you get your toddler to nap? Preferably without nursing to sleep because soon that won't be an option.
Please help me get 26 month old DD to nap!
Here's what I do (DS is 27 months) -
We have nap time built into the routine. It is always after lunch (preferably after some exhausting physical activity - swimming, the park etc.). So he anticipates it (even if he doesn't like it). I close the curtains in his room, turn on a fan for white noise, and we both go in there, and I shut the door and lock it (discreetly). I ask him if he wants to read a book. Sometimes he does, and we get in bed together and read a book or two in bed. If he goes this route, I just close the book right after it is done and say "I'm tired, Goodnight!" and lay down. Sometimes he complies. Other times he cries and gets out of bed. If he doesn't want to read a book, he usually cries right away about the fact that the room feels nap-y and he knows what is coming.
So - what I do: I tell him, "Ok, you don't have to take a nap, but I'm really tired so I'm going to sleep. Good night!" I lay down on one side of his bed and close my eyes and don't move. Sometimes he tries to unlock the door, sometimes he just resists and goes to play with the toys in his room. But - and here's the secret! - after about 15 minutes of his resisting/playing/getting out of the room/whatever - he misses all the attention from me and will come to the bed, climb in next to me, and lie down and fall asleep.
Pretty complicated, I know -- but he naps! Try it for a week?
ETA: and even if your toddler doesn't end up napping, she will end up learning that YOU "nap" at that time every day and that she needs to at least play quietly in the nap-type atmosphere of the room. You get to lay down!
DD went through a phase when she didn't nap around 20 months. If she napped more than like 30 minutes, she would stay up until past 10-11pm! So I thought she was giving up naps. She didn't seem that tired so I kept her up. THe only thing was if we were out, which we were most mornings, I would take the long way back home so she can doze 20 minutes in the car. And that was it for months. And then she started to nap erratically, 30 minutes one day, 3 hours another, etc. Now at 30 months she naps consistently at 3pm on her own everyday, 2-3 hours. I guess what I'm saying is maybe your kid doesn't want to nap (temporarily or permanently) if it is that hard to get to nap. I mean you can't force someone else to sleep, can you? I just believe in letting my child lead the way. It surely was confusing for our nap saga but I feel that's just what she was going through (starting preschool, moving to big girl bed, I was pregnant, etc.).
We don't really have a nap routine set in stone. Just wind down with a combination of stories (I make up stories about Thomas the train or whatever), books, backrub (rarely). The only thing that we do have consistently is the white noise and her lovey. Also I do this chant kinda thing where I tell her "mommy loves you, daddy loves you, grandma loves you, etc" and name all our friends and relatives. Another thing is she needs to be in her bed alone. She always slept alone even as a baby. She needs her space. I sit in the rocker across the room. What's interesting is our nap routine and nighttime routine are different. Nap time, she needs to be alone. For night time, I have to stay until she is totally out. She needs soy milk in straw cup. So if you have a night time routine, maybe make a slightly different nap routine.
What I suggest is try to get a consistent routine that is simple, like nurse (or not if you want to wean), 2 books, and backrub - or whatever you choose. No more than 10 - 15 minutes I would say. And do it at the same time. It probably won't work in the beginning. If child is still up, I would let it be. Just let them play, eat, whatever. Try again in 1 hour. Don't bang your head against a wall, yk? Save your energy for fun things with your toddler. Once baby gets here (mine is almost 3 months old), it's a whole different ball game!
When I was pregnant, I needed a nap more than my toddler! I would lock both of us into our den (totally child proofed and filled with toys) and play with her and doze off for 20 minutes and she hardly even noticed! But you gotta do what you gotta do.