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Nap Time Transitions

If your toddler is on a fixed schedule at daycare  -- 2 PM nap, 4 PM feeding  -- are you prisoner of that routine on the weekend? What do you do when your 14-month-old is fussing in expectation of his regular snooze, just as your 6-year-old steps up to bat at his Little League game?

Experts agree that while kids thrive on routines, not everyone in a child's life need follow them with military-like precision. "Meals and bedtime help set kids' biological clocks, but some variation won't throw them off," says Charles Schaefer, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

For instance, most daycare centers have a rest period after lunch, but it won't hurt to move your toddler's nap by an hour at home, says Moncrieff Cochran, Ph.D., author of Child Care That Works. Just make sure the changeover is gradual, perhaps adjusting lunch or nap time by 20 minutes every Saturday, working up to the time you desire. Abrupt, frequent changes will probably be unsettling.

And remember: While many kids love napping at the same time every day, they don't need to sleep in the same place. If you want to roam during her two-hour Sunday rest, putting her in her stroller with her teddy should do the trick.

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