How to Implement Quiet Time for Your Toddler
October 23, 2023
Toddlers are delightful creatures, full of curiosity, wonder, and imagination. They get a bad reputation from those who describe these best years as the “terrible twos” or “terrible threes,” as though they’re something to survive rather than enjoy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s true that toddlers can be willful and challenging with an incredible ability to scream the house down (seriously, how does such a big noise come from such tiny people?), they’re also bright, funny, and a joy to be around. Still, as much as we love our little ones, nap time is a much needed break for both parents and toddlers that allows respite from emotional overload. So, what happens when your toddler stops napping altogether? Most kids stop napping completely between the ages of 3 and 4, but some kids may stop even earlier. Rather than resigning yourself to a full day of chaos, it’s a good idea to replace that nap hour with designated quiet time, during which both parent and child can recharge.
Experts agree that quiet time is extremely beneficial for young children because it gives them the opportunity to process, organize, and synthesize new information. Children are constantly learning, absorbing new information as they play and interact with the world. Quiet time allows them to press pause, take in that information, and solidify it. Additionally, having dedicated time that’s free of distractions helps their creativity flourish. As parents, we often feel as though we need to constantly entertain our children, but the reality is that boredom can be just as beneficial. When children are bored, they problem-solve by engaging their imagination and tapping into their creativity. The lack of external stimulation helps them hone their imagination and focus, while also setting an environment for them to regulate their emotions and be more mindful. Here’s how to implement quiet time in your home, so that you and your little one can feel rested and ready to tackle the rest of the day:
Kids are pretty adaptable, but it’s too much to expect your little one to play quietly by themselves for an hour from Day 1. Instead, scale back your expectations and start with as little as 10-minute windows. 10 minutes of anything is doable. You can have your toddler play independently in their room for 10 minutes, then go in and either offer them a new activity for another 10-minute window or have them play quietly in the living room or by your side for 10 minutes. Breaking up quiet time into smaller, more manageable chunks will help ease your child into it and get them used to the idea of playing independently for a designated period of time.
Set the scene
First things first, make sure their room is free of any hazards. If the room isn’t already thoroughly baby-proofed, it’s time to do it now. Corded blinds should be removed and replaced with a cordless option, all heavy furniture should be anchored to prevent tip-over, and electrical outlets should be covered. A bored toddler will find any and every way of entertaining themselves, and those ways of playing can almost certainly be dangerous.
Set up your child’s play area with a few quiet activities, such puzzles, coloring, or books, and create a soft space where they can sit or lay comfortably and relax, using a play couch, cushion, or bean bag. When their body is relaxed, their mind will be able to relax too. They can read quietly on their couch or bean bag, or sit on their cushion to play with toys, puzzles, or whatever they want. To make this period of rest more appealing, you can designate a basket of toys that they’re only allowed to play with during quiet time. If your toddler is on the older side, they may enjoy listening to an audiobook on their Tonie or Yoto.
Explain the plan
Before you begin implementing quiet time, explain the concept to your toddler. Let them know that instead of napping, they’ll be choosing what they want to do in their room for the designated time, and help them understand that they’ll need to stay in their room. This is a good time to also let them know that if they come out of their room, you’ll be walking them back inside. Set firm boundaries so they know what to expect if they begin resisting this new routine.
Use a timer
To prevent your little one from constantly coming out of their room to ask if quiet time is over, use a visual timer. Time is a very abstract concept to young children, and a visual timer can help them keep track of the time in a way that’s easy to understand. Additionally, using a colorful countdown clock or an hourglass can be a fun tool for your kiddo!
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About the Author: Alice
Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV.