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Solved! The Mysteries of Toddler Naps

See Why They Abhor What You'd Adore

The whole issue is made more confusing by your child's unique view of daytime sleep. While it may be hard to imagine anything more delicious than being offered the opportunity for a cozy doze, your toddler doesn't see it that way, whether he could actually use a nap or not.

One reason toddlers resist naps, whether with delays or tantrums, is that while they need their sleep, they also need to assert themselves. "Children this age are dealing with issues of autonomy and power," says Karen Berberian, Ph.D., a child psychologist at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, in Philadelphia. "They're trying to establish themselves as independent people. This often means doing the opposite of what Mommy and Daddy want him to do, including nap."

Toddlerhood is also the time for exploring the world more busily than ever before. To your child, every day is filled with such exciting adventures that a nap can feel like a terrible deprivation. "Imagine if you were reading the most gripping book and someone ordered you to put it down and go to sleep," says Berberian.

And just think how he may feel about being moved to a real bed  -- especially if it means giving up his beloved crib to a new baby brother or sister. This kind of shift can wreak havoc on both naps and nighttime sleep. "Like toilet training, making the transition to a big bed is best done when a child is really ready for it, not just because it's convenient," says Berberian. "If you can't easily convince your kid that the big bed is a great privilege, give him back his crib and buy the new baby an inexpensive bassinet. Try again when he asks for a big bed  -- and he will."