Quiet Time for Toddlers
At some point during your child’s development, the number of naps they take gradually decreases. They will usually go from two or three naps a day to one by the time they are 18 months old. Then, typically by age five, children no longer need a regular midday snooze, and you’ll drop planned nap time altogether.
While the age that kids cease routine napping varies, one thing that’s consistent across the board is the importance of quiet time for toddlers as naps become a thing of the past.
Now, you might be wondering, “What is quiet time for toddlers?”
Quiet time for toddlers is a short, calm and unstructured period during the day where your kiddo gets a break from bright and noisy activities, equipment that promotes gross motor skill development and electronics, including screens. It’s a time where they participate in independent play, which means parents get to enjoy some uninterrupted time.
The benefits of quiet time
There are a number of benefits for introducing quiet time for toddlers into your child’s day.
First and foremost, quiet time helps your child process all the info they are taking in throughout the day.
As you know, kids are like sponges - their brains constantly absorbing sights, sounds and information all around them. When you introduce quiet time for toddlers, you give them a chance to reflect on their thoughts, and process, sort out and better understand all the new things they learn every day. This includes emotional processing too, since they are given space to better explore their feelings, which can ultimately result in better behavior.
Second, it helps your child’s creativity. When you provide them with a quiet period you create space and time for them to daydream which fuels their imagination. You might worry this will lead to boredom or tantrums, but that’s why you supplement this period with quiet time toys (more on that in a bit).
Third, it helps them become more independent. When you incorporate quiet time into your child’s routine, it gives them a chance to become more self-sufficient.
Finally, it gives them a chance to recharge. While their bodies don’t necessarily require a nap to physically recharge like they did when they were younger, they still benefit physically from the down time. More importantly though, it gives them time to recharge mentally.
How to incorporate quiet time
The first thing to consider is location. Don’t overthink things when determining the best spot for your child’s quiet time.
The main consideration is finding a location with little external stimulation. Typically, their bedroom or a play area works fine. You just want to ensure the place is quiet – remove any clutter and other distractions – and comfortable.
Also, it’s good to note that if your child is too young to leave them all alone at first, you can still be present, but you’ll want to encourage them to play or participate in activities by themselves.
Next, keep in mind, just like any other new routine, children might resist at first. That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare your child for this new part of their day. You might begin by asking if they’d like to play quietly instead of taking a nap.
Another thing you can do to help with the transition is to be consistent when implementing quiet time. That means keeping whatever schedule you have in place - in most cases their pre- and post-nap routines - when slotting quiet time into their day. It’s also best to do it at the same time everyday.
As your child becomes accustomed to this change, it’s a good idea to periodically check on them and help guide their quiet time activities if they become too excited and need to calm down. Then, as they get more comfortable, you can monitor them by listening at the door and eventually transition to a video monitor to keep an eye on them.
Finally, you want to make sure they have books and other quiet time toys.
Quiet time activities and toys
You want to put away toys that light up, make sounds or overly stimulate them, and instead opt for quiet time toys.
There are a number of fantastic toys out there that can be used during quiet time for toddlers. Generally speaking, books, simple puzzles, mess-free art, stuffed animals and building blocks are all great examples of quiet time toys.
Also, to help get them accustomed to this, we recommend setting aside special “quiet time” toys to make this period feel special.
As your child grows, you’ll want to make sure you’re incorporating age and developmentally appropriate toys into quiet time. If you’re looking for more information on this topic, ParentEducate.com has you covered with a host of courses on developmental milestones, as well as our course Choosing Appropriate Toys.
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