7 Tips to Transition Toddlers from Nap time to Quiet Time

So your toddler stopped napping? Maybe you are pregnant,  maybe you have a newborn, or maybe you just need a break in your day in order not to go crazy. Hey, I get it. Everyone needs some silence in their day and break from the chaos that is raising young kids. Losing that nap can feel like a strong blow but don’t fret, there is some relief! Even if you have a very clingy toddler or preschooler, you can replace nap time with quiet time.

Tips for transition from nap time to quiet time toddlers

The advice to ‘sleep when baby is sleeping’ is pretty much a cruel joke to any mom with more than one kid. It just doesn’t happen. Out of desperation, I decided I needed something to change- enter “quiet time”.


5 Steps to Start Quiet Time

Step 1- Talk about it with your child before hand:

Let them know in language they can understand what they  can expect and why you are doing it. Older toddlers and preschools might get more out of discussing the why but for younger ones, just simply explain what they can expect. 

Step 2- Pick the time you want quiet time to happen:

For us the most natural time was during my baby’s afternoon nap. By then everyone was tired and cranky and needed some time to relax. You can also do quiet time in the morning or do two different quiet times, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Step 3- Decide the rules:

You will need to decide exactly what “quiet time” means for you. It might mean that they need to stay in their own room the entire time. Or it might mean they can play where you are but they need to keep to themselves. You pick the rules that you are comfortable with.

Step 4- Offer choices:

By giving them some choices, they feel more in power which is important in their cooperation. So give them the choice of where they will play during quiet time. You could also give them the choice of listening to calming music or silence.

Step 5-Start slow:

Don’t expect a hour of quiet time the first day. You would probably be setting them and yourself up for failure.

How long to start out with is going to be dependent on your child and how comfortable they are with being away from you. If they are not used to it, you should start small around 15 minutes and slowly increase it everyday. Using a timer is a great way for them to get used to quiet time, it provides them comfort knowing that when the timer goes off quiet time will be over.

Once they are used to it, you can decide how long you want quiet time to last. Ours last at least an hour. We base ours on baby’s nap, when the baby wakes up quiet time is over.

Step 6- Provide suggestions or activities:

At least in the beginning. I think the main goal of quiet time should be to help kids learn to play on their own and use their imagination with little intervening from you. However, in the beginning they may need some choices or direction.

You can create busy bags, busy bins, invitations to play, or have special toys that only get played with during quiet time to make it fun and engaging in the beginning.

After getting used to playing on their own, they will build the ability to entertain themselves which is such valuable skill for them and for you!

Step 7- Expect some resistance:

There will definitely be some resistance in the beginning and even once quiet time is established. The most important thing during this time is to be consistent.

When my daughter protests quiet time, I empathize with her feelings and then I be firm that we are having quiet time. This is usually when I give her a choice, “music or no music?”, “upstairs or downstairs?”. Once I have empathized and reiterated the rules and then given her a choice, it almost always stops the protests.

So there are my 7 steps to getting your toddler to have quiet time. One of the added benefits is on a semi-regular basis my my daughter actually ends up falling asleep on the couch or floor during quiet time even though she gave up a regular nap almost 2 years ago.

If you liked this post you might also like 10 Easy Toddler Activities That Take Little to no Setup and 10 Tips for Preparing a Toddler for a new 

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  1. Jennifer says

    Well it’s 10pm and my kids just went to sleep, so I think it’s time to drop the nap :-) My issue is that since my 3 and almost 5 year old share a room, quiet time may mean an hour on their own, but it is far from quiet. They’ve been good at staying in their room, but they’re not getting any rest. Considering they can both still snooze for 1.5 hours when they do nap, I think they definitely need some down time. Any recommendations? Separate quiet time? Suggested calm activities? Hitting a wall here.

    • says

      I can definitely see where that would present a problem. This is something I am sure I will be running into once my youngest is a bit older. I am going to ask my Facebook readers (I will leave out your name) for their advice and will come back and post it. In the meantime, if it were me I may do the separate quiet time idea. Maybe one can stay in the room and the other one stays in the living room? You may want to try directing their play with some calm activities that they can do independently, at least in the beginning to get them used to being apart and playing alone. I have noticed that my daughter will often be quietly playing on the floor and then she will get tired and fall asleep. Let me ask my Facebook readers and I will come and share their advice as well.

    • says

      Amanda, sure!

      So depending on how well your child plays independently will depend on the types of toys and activities you should try. If she isn’t used to playing alone you can try a few things. First, is having a box of special toys that ONLY get played with during quiet time. Maybe even get a new toy that they are excited about and use it only for quiet time. Toys for quiet time should be as open ended as possible. I have found that Little People, other little figures and dolls, Blocks, Magnetic tiles, are great ones. They allow for longer play because they can be played with in so many ways.

      If she is not used to playing on her own and you are finding she is struggling you can try putting together quiet time busy bags. Here is a few links that would be great. Again only bring them out for quiet time. http://www.powerfulmothering.com/how-to-make-a-quiet-book-the-no-sew-way/ http://b-inspiredmama.com/2014/10/busy-bags-co-op/ http://mothersniche.com/busybags/ and http://www.pinterest.com/pin/184718022189982967/

      Another thing I do for my daughter is I usually always put on quiet relaxing music (I put on the lullaby Pandora station) and tell her she can play or lay by me but she can’t talk to me during quiet time. That it is good for both of us to have some quiet time to our selves. Even if she initially acts up, usually the music helps relax her and she usually happily plays by herself or sometimes falls asleep.

      My biggest advice is be consistent. She may fight it for the first few days but once she knows that no matter what, quiet time is happening she will eventually stop fighting it. When my daughter protests I start giving her choices to distract any tantrums or complaints. I will say do you want quiet time in your room or downstairs? Music or no music? Snack or no snack? Etc. This helps her feel like she has some control and I have found this has been great to get her to play on her own. Also you might want to use a timer so that she can feel like she knows when quiet time will end. You could even find a fun timer that is used just for that. Hope this helps!

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