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My 22 Month old toddler has a new habit during the day. He's been skipping his nap, refusing to sleep even when tired.

This wouldn't be so bad, but it leads to him instead falling asleep for night much earlier - and last night he fell asleep at 6 PM and - since we didn't know if he'd sleep through the night from there - waking up again at 10 PM for food.

How can we prevent him from skipping his nap? He doesn't know many words yet, so we can't explain this by talking to him.

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At 22 months it's likely that your child is changing sleep patterns and may be moving towards no daytime nap. If this is true, you can't stop it, and you may find that your child naps, or doesn't, back and fourth, while in this transition.

You can plan activities that encourage a nap, where there's little physical activity but visually interesting things to look at, which I found with my kids would entertain them long enough for their bodies to fall asleep.

While not always good for the environment, a drive in a car would almost always cause my kids at 2 years old to sleep. The down side is that my child would wake up once we got home, so the nap was very short, but it did help for my child to have even a short nap.

I also had some success with taking a walk with a stroller. Much like a drive in the car, my child would fall asleep for only a short time, but again, even a short nap made the rest of the day better.

Another way to get my youngest child to sleep was for everyone to go to sleep. There was a time when my son and I would both go lay down in our rooms and pretend that we were taking a nap so that my daughter, the youngest, would go to sleep. My son and I would typically rest for about 15 minutes and then my daughter was asleep and my son and I would return to our activities.

I didn't use the above strategies every day, but having them on days when we all really needed the break that a nap brings to parents and children alike, I was grateful to have these options.

While your 22 month old doesn't speak words they are exceptionally good at reading your tone of voice and body language, and they are watching you for your actions and reactions all the time, and learning through mimicking your behavior. What this means is that you are communicating with your child by saying the words, demonstrating what you want your child to do, and encouraging every small step that your child makes in the right direction.

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    Going for a drive would be helpful...too bad my car just broke down last week. ;( However, that is still good advice, and all of this is good information, thank you for responding. One question - what should we do if our child skips a nap, falls asleep early (say 6 PM) and isn't awake for his dinner?
    – Zibbobz
    Jul 6, 2023 at 12:24
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    @Zibbobz A child will wake up if they are hungry and skipping or delaying one meal well not cause your child any harm, likely they'll just be more hungry at their next meal. When your child falls asleep very early you might just let them sleep and enjoy some adult time, knowing that likely you'll be up early with your child. It is an option to wake your child, but in my experience, if one of my kids fell asleep early and then was woken up, by accident or on purpose, getting them back to sleep was hard, so I choose to let them sleep. You might try both ways, to see which works best for you.
    – user42851
    Jul 7, 2023 at 6:18
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    He did wake up one of the times this happened, at around 10 PM. We gave him some food and water and put him back to bed, and it didn't take too long for him to fall back to sleep. I consider that a win.
    – Zibbobz
    Jul 7, 2023 at 11:34

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