I don't let my daughter nap -- no matter what.
Getting Avery to take a midday snooze session has been a battle since she was born. For years, I fought long and hard to get her to sleep for at least an hour while she protested in any way she could: screaming, banging her head, and even once vaulting out of her crib. Then one day I discovered that no shut-eye also meant no fight at bedtime. Sure, I had to endure a cranky afternoon. If she started to drift off, I'd immediately wake her up by tickling her or playing loud music, even though I knew she could use the extra shut-eye. But passing on her nap ensured that Avery passed right out by 7 P.M., giving me an evening to do all the things I longed to do: read, e-mail, and catch up on Glee.
GIVE UP THE GUILT "It's okay for kids to skip a nap once they've reached age 3," says Jennifer Waldburger, a sleep consultant in Los Angeles and coauthor of The Sleepeasy Solution. Even with some younger kids, if napping clearly interferes with the ability to fall asleep at a reasonable evening hour -- by 8:30 P.M. for kids up to age 6 -- Waldburger says it's a worthwhile trade-off.
MAKE IT BETTER While your kid is transitioning out of the nap zone, set aside some time during the day for low-key activities, such as coloring or reading, to give her body a rest, suggests Waldburger. "If your child falls asleep in the stroller or car during the day, it's okay to gently wake her," says Waldburger. And what if she's not getting the 11 to 13 hours a day she needs? (On average, preschoolers fall short in the snooze department, logging 9.6 hours, according to The National Sleep Foundation in Washington, D.C.) "Shift her bedtime earlier, by 30 to 60 minutes, to compensate," Waldburger says.