This might happen to you, no only on occasions, but almost daily. In the morning, you and your little one are best friends, you are playing together and you have a wonderful collaboration. After lunch, something is starting to happen – the child becomes anxious, maybe he’s crying, he says he still has something to eat when the plate is empty and so on… All these are only the clues for your nightmare: he won’t sleep this afternoon either!
The sleep after lunch represents for most adults an inaccessible luxury, even if it is highly indicated for a better digestion and to avoid over-soliciting the organism. This is exactly why you must accustom your child to this healthy habit, no matter how much he fights it. A first advice would be to insist: don’t give up on his pleadings at least until the afternoon sleep is part of his daily routine.
One way to do it is to sit down on the bed next to your child and to read him a story. His organism will surely react and he will soon fall asleep. Don’t forget to place next to him his teddy bear or doll, telling him that the toy has to sleep too.
The method can be reversed: tell him, with a serious tone, that it is essential for the toy to sleep and who can take better care of it that the child himself. Put him to bed with the toy and leave the room. It is highly probable that within the next ten minutes you will find him sleeping.
It is recommended that you will come back from time to time and see if he is indeed sleeping. If he’s playing and totally forgot he has to sleep then stay with him, cheer him up and talk to him on a low tone and it will work just like a lullaby.
Another strategy is to promise the child you will take him out in the park to play with other children and for that he needs to be rested. This will make him happy and he will go to sleep easier. The only trick is to actually go with him to the park after he wakes up. If you don’t then he will lose his trust in you and you will have more problems with him, many more than just the afternoon sleep.
Don’t use it as a blackmail though – the child needs to understand and to learn that afternoon naps are not a way to get what he wants and not a punishment either, he needs to understand them as a healthy habit necessary for his health.
If possible try to get him to sleep every day at the same hour because this way his organism will react and after a few weeks the little one will get sleepy right after lunch. That is going to be a relief from all the previous problems!