How can parents establish a consistent naptime routine for their preschoolers?

Kate Chered
4 min readNov 19, 2023

The Significance of Daytime Sleep for Preschoolers in the United States

The attitude towards preschool varies among children, with some eagerly anticipating weekdays for the joy of meeting friends, while others perceive it almost as a punishment until parents return from work. Regardless of this, some children encounter issues with daytime napping in preschool, either finding it challenging or simply refusing to sleep during quiet hours. So, what should parents do in such situations?

The Importance of Afternoon Naps for Preschoolers

The afternoon nap in preschool is not merely a tradition; it holds significant benefits for a child’s well-being. Experts have long established that a preschooler who takes a nap during quiet hours is less excitable and less fatigued by the end of the day.

Daytime sleep positively impacts a child’s mental well-being, teaching them to manage emotions and maintaining a cheerful mood. Additionally, it enhances intellectual development, aiding the child in better assimilating information.

Moreover, daytime sleep helps the body eliminate excess cortisol, a hormone crucial for producing additional energy. If a preschooler remains awake after lunch, cortisol accumulates, making it challenging for parents to put them to bed in the evening. It becomes a cycle where sleep begets sleep.

It is essential to note that the need for daytime sleep varies based on individual characteristics, temperament, and temporary factors such as illness, teething, or changes in weather. Some preschoolers may feel perfectly well without a daytime rest.

As a child grows, the natural inclination for daytime sleep diminishes. For instance, while about 90% of three-year-olds typically rest after lunch, by the age of five, 75% of children may encounter difficulties falling asleep during the day. Upon entering school, most children entirely abandon afternoon naps.

Reasons Why a Child Refuses to Nap in Preschool

The reluctance to sleep during the day in preschool can stem from various factors, many of which are closely tied to the adaptation process when a child is still getting used to the preschool environment:

  1. Unfamiliar Environment: The child may feel tense in an unfamiliar setting with unfamiliar people, making it difficult to relax and sleep during naptime.
  2. Lack of Familiar Sleep Rituals: The absence of bedtime rituals, such as a comforting story or cuddling with a favorite stuffed animal, can contribute to the child’s difficulty in falling asleep.
  3. Psychological Insight of Children: Children are astute observers. A child may realize that refusing to nap prompts the caregiver to call their parent to pick them up. This situation can become a powerful motivator for the child to resist daytime sleep.

Strategies to Address Daytime Sleep Challenges

Parents can employ various strategies to help their child overcome difficulties with daytime sleep in preschool:

  1. Establish a Consistent Routine: Create a predictable routine for naptime that mirrors the bedtime routine at home. This can include calming activities and familiar rituals to signal that it’s time to rest.
  2. Communication with Caregivers: Maintain open communication with preschool caregivers. Share insights into the child’s sleep patterns and collaborate to implement a consistent approach between home and preschool.
  3. Gradual Adaptation: Gradually expose the child to the preschool environment, allowing them to become familiar with the surroundings and caregivers over time. This can alleviate anxiety and enhance the likelihood of successful napping.

If the Child Continues to Resist Napping

Despite implementing various strategies, some children may persistently resist daytime sleep. In such cases, parents can consider consulting with a pediatrician or a child psychologist to explore underlying issues that may contribute to the reluctance.

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Parental Testimonials

Parents who have faced similar challenges can provide valuable insights into their experiences and the strategies they found effective. Sharing these testimonials can offer reassurance and practical advice to other parents navigating similar situations.

In conclusion, understanding the importance of daytime sleep for preschoolers, identifying potential reasons for resistance, and implementing thoughtful strategies can contribute to a more positive naptime experience in the preschool setting. Through collaboration between parents and preschool caregivers, the child’s transition to a healthy sleep routine can be facilitated, ensuring their overall well-being and development.


How can parents establish a consistent naptime routine for their preschoolers?

Parents can create a predictable routine mirroring the bedtime routine at home. Incorporating calming activities and familiar rituals signals to the child that it’s time to rest.

Where should parents communicate their insights into their child’s sleep patterns?

Parents should maintain open communication with preschool caregivers. Sharing information about the child’s sleep habits helps implement a consistent approach between home and preschool.

What are the potential reasons for a child’s reluctance to nap in preschool?

Several factors, such as an unfamiliar environment, lack of familiar sleep rituals, and a child’s psychological insight, can contribute to their resistance to daytime sleep in preschool.

When should parents consider consulting with a professional about their child’s resistance to napping?

If a child persistently resists daytime sleep despite various strategies, parents should consider consulting with a pediatrician or a child psychologist to explore potential underlying issues.

To whom can parents turn for valuable insights and advice on managing preschoolers’ naptime challenges?

Parents can find valuable insights and practical advice from other parents who have faced similar challenges. Exploring parental testimonials can offer reassurance and effective strategies.

Originally published at on November 19, 2023.