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Travel edition part 1) When your toddler misses a nap


When your toddler is down to one nap a day, the thought of missing a nap can be terrifying. I wanted to share our experience of when this happened with our toddler and what I did to try and combat an overtired meltdown at bedtime.


Our little boy is almost 2 and usually naps 1.5 hours a day. He ALWAYS naps in the car, so we headed off to the airport hotel over nap time as we usually would, expecting our little man to fall asleep by the time we got onto the motorway.


However, it appears he had a very different plan as he decided he didn’t fancy his nap and instead chatted about diggers and apples the whole way, as one does.


He’s far too young to drop a nap and still clearly needs one, but I think he knew there was a lot going on and seeing the suitcases going out to the car unsettled him.


So what did I do?

  1. First of all, I had a minor panic as a parent then reminded myself it’s okay (I’m human, I panic too when my child misses a nap). My little one had just shy of 12 hours sleep the night before, so the tank was full, a good starting point. He usually has a 1.5 hour nap from 1 - 2.30pm daily and bedtime is around 7pm.

  2. We offered him a nap environment up until around 3pm and he still didn’t want to take the nap. We were due to be up at 3am to fly at 7am so I didn’t want to push his nap too late as a normal wake window is 5.5 hours for us and I wanted to maximise night sleep

  3. I kept to the rest of his routine e.g. snacks and dinner at the same time. Then we pulled bath time forward by an hour (5pm) and bedtime forward by an hour (6pm).

  4. As we were sleeping in a new environment and he was overtired, I went back to basics with him, which meant being in the room and close by. Usually, I put him in the cot, say his sleep phrase and leave the room. However, I  offered touch and extra cuddles when needed and used our normal sleep phrase often

  5. He drifted off in around 15 mins and slept until I woke up him at 3.30am


I wanted to share our experience as I think it’s important to remember that even as a sleep consultant, our kids are human and sometimes they have a different plan.


Having a well established bedtime routine and sleep phrase made a huge difference to the situation. Even though my little one was overtired, these two things helped to prep him for sleep and made for a smoother bedtime.


I hope you found this blog helpful. If you are still looking for further support around sleep, please do reach out and book a free 15-minute consultation with me, the Well Rested Sleep Coach.

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