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5 Restful Activities Your Child Can Do Instead of Napping

by Vannessa Rhoades 16 Nov 2023
5 Restful Activities Your Child Can Do Instead of Napping

Midway through nap time, your toddler's chatter and singing still echo from their room. You realize this is becoming a more frequent occurrence. It may be a sign that it's time to transition from napping to daily independent rest time. Let’s take a closer look at how to make this change with some quiet activities for children while ensuring your little one still gets the rest they need.

When Do Most Kids Give Up Napping?

Quality sleep is crucial for a child's well-being, impacting their health, mood, and ability to learn. The need for sleep decreases as children grow, and the age at which kids should stop napping varies. Around age three, almost all children nap daily, with 60% of four-year-olds still napping, according to the Sleep Foundation. However, by age five, most no longer need naps (less than 30% nap), and by age six, less than 10% continue to nap. Almost all children stop napping by age seven. It’s a good idea to reach out to your pediatrician about any potential sleep health concerns.

How Do I Transition My Child Away From Naps?

Transitioning away from naps and moving toward quiet indoor activities for children can be a gradual process. Instead of completely eliminating naps, you can introduce "quiet time" as an option. This structured period allows children to decide between sleep or quiet play. Many daycares and preschools incorporate quiet time. It should have a designated location and duration, just like nap time. If your child isn't napping, provide stimulating activities to ensure they sleep well at night. Options like reading, puzzles, or coloring can be offered during quiet time. Regardless of whether they sleep or not, this rest period supports memory consolidation and rejuvenation for the day. Avoid substituting nap time with activities that promote drowsiness, like car rides or TV. Parents should also minimize loud activities to encourage their children to engage in quiet play. Loud noises may lead the child to leave their quiet time area.

Restful, Quiet Activities for School-Age Children

Let’s look at a few relaxing, restoring activities for toddlers and kindergarten children during quiet time.

1. Playing with blocks

Encourage your child’s creative thinking with building toys. Begin with basic options like Duplo Legos, and occasionally introduce alternatives like Magnatiles or plain wooden blocks. As your child's fine motor skills develop, they can work with smaller pieces, enhancing their building abilities.

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2. Coloring and drawing

Coloring books hold a unique charm for kids at a particular stage of their development. Coloring not only alleviates stress and encourages relaxation but also contributes to the enhancement of fine motor skills. Another option is simply allowing your child to draw on plain paper using crayons or colored pencils.

5 Restful Activities Your Child Can Do Instead of Napping

3. Solving puzzles

Toddlers can stay happily engaged with puzzles, provided they are neither overly challenging nor overly simple. Begin with puzzles featuring large, easy-to-handle pieces, gradually progressing to more intricate ones. It's essential to avoid pushing beyond your child's frustration threshold. Opt for puzzles that they can successfully complete independently with confidence.

5 Restful Activities Your Child Can Do Instead of Napping

4. Playing with dolls

Dolls offer versatile opportunities for dressing, nurturing, and imaginative role-playing. Whether they're baby dolls, superheroes, or make-believe animals, figurines of all kinds are ideal for fostering creativity during quiet moments. Some children particularly enjoy simulating the role of a caregiver with their baby dolls.

5 Restful Activities Your Child Can Do Instead of Napping

5. Listening to audiobooks

Engaging with audiobooks can be both enjoyable and calming, providing a valuable screen-free option for kids who want to unwind. They can also be enjoyed while a child is occupied with other tasks. Listening to a narrated story can contribute positively to a child's literacy development.

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What Should I Do If My Child Resists?

It's completely normal if your little one doesn't easily adapt to playing independently, so don't worry. This adjustment may take some time. Using a visual timer to indicate when quiet time will end can be helpful. Begin with a short period, such as five minutes, and gradually extend it to 45 minutes or an hour. The key is to keep your child engaged. Consider introducing special toys and activities exclusively for quiet time, rotating them as needed. Try selecting items that genuinely pique your child's interest and are manageable for them to enjoy without frustration. Limit the choices to one or two toys to maintain order in their room and help them stay focused without feeling overwhelmed.

The Takeaway

Even though nap time is ending, your child still benefits from a daily relaxation period (which can be a breather for you too!). Establishing a new routine might require patience and time, but it's a valuable investment. This daily alone time allows your child to recharge mentally and prevents evening burnout. If you ever have worries or inquiries about your child's sleep habits, don't hesitate to consult their pediatrician or healthcare provider.

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