Development FAQ: 18-24 months – Learning

My daughter of just 20 months has developed a fear of the vacuum cleaner. I am not sure what started this but now she will scream when the cleaner is turned on. How do I get her to realise that there is nothing to be afraid of? I have to get the house cleaned so should I just keep vacuuming in front of her?  Is this sort of behaviour normal?

Small children often develop fears about all kinds of things. It is a quite normal part of development.   Learning how to deal with your child’s fear in a sympathetic and understanding way is an important part of motherhood.

Most irrational fears pass as a child grows up.  It may be hard to tell why your daughter has suddenly developed a fear of the vacuum. She may have had a fright one day if it was switched on without her seeing it and the sudden noise might have startled her.  If she has seen the vacuum cleaner hoovering up bits and pieces she may think that if the vacuum sucks up all the dust and dirt might it suck her up too?

The way to tackle her fear is to acknowledge it is real to her, no matter how irrational it appears to you. It is better to try to find ways for her to become more comfortable with her fear than to ignore it all together.   Initially, is it possible for you to do a little vacuuming while your daughter sits on the lap of her father or a friend or grandparent?   Do not encourage her fear by making too much of her anxiety.  Simply try a little distraction, and a little explanation.

Warn her when you about to put the vacuum on, but encourage the other adult to distract your daughter with a book and a cuddle.  Try to explain to your daughter what the vacuum does.  If you are on your own, suggest your daughter sits on the sofa, and reassure her that you will keep the vacuum away from her.

If you think she fears being sucked up in the vacuum, show her how it works.  Let her watch, maybe from your arms, whilst you clean up some crumbs but then put a larger toy or block in the path and show her that it cannot suck that up.

Look out for storybooks which deal with practical tasks.   The more your daughter understands about vacuums, how they work and what they are used for, the more likely her fear is to subside.

Toddlers love to copy your activities.  Try to borrow or buy your daughter a small toy vacuum cleaner and encourage her to use this.

Feeding FAQ: 18-24 months – Other

I was looking for an easy meal idea for my 1½ year old son last night and noticed a pack of vege sausages in the fridge. Are these okay for him to eat? And what about other ‘convenience foods’ like regular sausages and burgers, or are they too full of rubbish? Normally I cook from scratch but sometimes I just want to make something quickly.

We all have days when we don’t want to or don’t have time to spend long in the kitchen, and the occasional ‘convenience’ meal of foods such as vegetarian sausages will do no harm. In this sense, children are the same as adults – so long as they are eating the right thing most of the time, having a few foods that may not be the most suitable does no great damage. However I would urge everyone to be particularly careful regarding the salt content of convenience foods for children as their kidneys are not as good at coping with salt as adults kidneys are.

See the Food Standards Agency website www.salt.gov.uk/babies_and_children.shtml for more information on limiting children’s salt intake.

Here are a few ideas to help you to have some other easy meals at hand. Firstly, try to get into the habit of cooking extra and freezing leftovers of foods such as lentil soup, casseroles or pasta sauces, whether in ice-cube amounts for babies or meal-sized portions for toddlers. I quite frequently cook a little too much for my boys without realising it, and always pop the excess into the freezer. Even if it’s only a small serve, it will come in handy for a ‘mini-meal’ when they’ve already had an early evening meal at nursery.

The protein portion of meals is often the most difficult for those of us short of time, as frozen vegetables, cous cous, pasta or rice are healthy, versatile and easy-to-prepare options for other food groups (try to keep them on hand in your freezer or cupboard). My best tip is to freeze 1-2 inch cubes of fresh fish. These can be easily microwaved as needed (about 30-40 seconds, ensuring that they are cooked all they way through), then mashed or chopped if required – my sons love salmon mixed through cous cous with diced tomato and frozen peas. Eggs are rich in protein as well as other nutrients, and can be poached, boiled or scrambled (maybe with some cheese and finely-chopped red and green peppers) for a quick meal. Sausages and burgers can be good sources of protein, but it is worth paying more for a higher quality product if you can. A cheaper sausage or burger can contain a lot less meat and thus not much protein. In this case, you really do get what you pay for.

Feeding FAQ: 18-24 months – Other

I have an 18-month old boy who eats quite well and drinks water and milk. I try to feed him all the healthiest food, as I know how important it is. I’ve seen the advertisements for toddler milks – should I be giving these to him, rather than regular cows’ milk?

‘Toddler milks’ are marketed as being nutritionally superior to cows’ milk, and it is true that they contain a wider range of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, particularly iron. However, this does not mean that they are a necessity. Younger babies need breastmilk or a formula that meets all of their nutritional requirements, including vitamins and protein, because they are not getting any – or much – other nutrition from solids. Beyond the age of one, however, children usually get the vast majority of their nutrition from solids. So long as they generally eat the recommended amounts from each of the food groups and are growing normally, the only nutrients most will require from milk are those found in cows’ milk and other dairy foods: protein, calcium and vitamin B2. Another thing some toddler milks do contain, which cows’ milk doesn’t, is added sugar. While this will certainly encourage a child to drink the toddler milk, it could potentially lead to a taste for sweet drinks.

There may be a place for toddler milk or follow-on formulas for children who are fussy eaters, have a very poor appetite, or are not growing at the usual rate, but it sounds as though your son is eating well. Parents who are concerned about their child’s diet could consult The Contented Child’s Food Bible for more guidance, particularly on iron-rich foods. Do bear in mind that toddler milk or formulas are a lot more expensive than cows’ milk, and simply offering cows’ milk with a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement may be a suitable and cheaper alternative. I’d recommend that parents who feel there may be a problem with their child’s growth or food intake discuss this, and the use of supplements or of toddler milks for children over the age of one, with their GP or health visitor.

Feeding FAQ: 18-24 months – Milk Feeding Problems

How do I stop my 20 month old needing a 10pm feed?

My little boy has always been an extremely hungry baby. He has only slept through the night with out a feed since 18mths. Before that he would wake a couple of times a week starving hungry at any time between 2am and 5am.
He still has a feed at 10pm. I would like to drop this as I have another baby on the way and don’t want to be feeding two at this time. I know he shouldn’t really need it at this age. He still has 8ozs at 7am and 7pm.

He doesn’t wake for the 10pm feed. He just takes 8ozs whilst asleep, but if I skip it he wakes at 2/3am starving hungry. He still takes his milk in bottles.

I have been slowly watering down this feed so it is half milk and half water now but I am not sure how to progress. Do I keep increasing the water, or should I cut back the amount, or change the time too? I feel that sooner or later he will notice the taste change and reject it.

He eats extremely large lunches and teas compared to all his age mates. He will have a large bowl of risotto/pasta shepherds pie with veg followed by a piece of cheese and fruit: a whole pear, banana or large portion of grapes. However he is not a big breakfast eater; he will eat maybe a small yoghurt and half a slice of toast. This has increased since I started watering down his milk.

Do you have any ideas how to eliminate this feed completely? My son just seems to have a large appetite; he is average sized (27lbs) but very active.

As you have a new baby on the way this issue needs to be resolved quickly. Continue to dilute the feed at 10pm every two nights until it is 7ozs water and 1 oz of cows milk. If he begins to wake in the night and/or reject this, offer water from a beaker to settle him.

A short period of sleep training may have to follow if he continues to wake in the night, but at his age it is more preferable to drinking this amount of milk in a bottle at night. He is eating well in the day so he has no nutritional need for the milk at night.

As you have already noticed, his appetite at breakfast has improved and will probably continue to do so as you reduce the milk intake.

He should not be using bottles at all at this age, so begin to offer him his breakfast milk in a beaker. Once this is accepted, give him his bedtime milk in the same way.

When your son takes his feed at 10pm the naturally occurring lactose which is a sugar and contained in milk will be coating his teeth for the rest of the night. Normally saliva will help wash it away, but during the night there is less saliva produced. This can be a cause of tooth decay.

Realise that once the baby has arrived, it may be far harder to get rid of the bottles than it will be now.

Some children of this age can be difficult about drinking milk from anything other than a bottle, which is why it is better to phase them out by a year. You may well have to think up some new ways to make milk acceptable. Try new cups and beakers; those with favourite cartoon or story book characters. Find some cheap “picnic” wear which comes in many styles these days. Try sports bottles and straws as an alternative, which are closer to sucking on a teat. But whatever it takes, find something he will accept now.

If his intake drops a little, just make it up with sauces, cheese and yoghurts which he seems very happy with.

This may seem a daunting prospect when you are expecting a baby, but it is better to face the issue now, so your son will sleep well in the nights by the time your new baby arrives.

Feeding FAQ: 18-24 months – Food Fussiness

My 19 months toddler is beginning to refuse food I know she likes

Grace is 19 months and we are having problems with food. On a Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday she attends nursery. She wakes at 7am, has a good breakfast and then a snack at 10am. Lunch is at 11.45am and can be meat, chicken or fish, potatoes, pasta and vegetables etc. There’s pudding of yoghurt, or banana custard plus a drink of water. She sleeps from 12.30 -1pm for about an hour in a bed with no dummy. Afternoon tea is at 3pm and a selection of sandwiches, quiche, fruit, cheese & biscuits, drink of milk. At 5pm she drinks some water and has a story. At home later on she has a proper tea at the table with us at 6.15 – 6.30pm. Bath and bedtime are no later than 7.30pm and she is always asleep within 5 minutes.
On Mondays and Fridays she is at home and gets up at the same time. Breakfast is Weetabix or porridge, plus a small plain pancake and fruit (either grapes or orange) drink of milk from cup. We attend tumble tots together on a Monday and Friday from 10am – 11am where she is learning to do forward roles and dancing etc. After this session she has a drink of water and a biscuit. Lunch is at 12pm and usually chicken, fish with pasta and vegetables in a tomato sauce or spaghetti bolognese and a piece of bread, or lamb casserole. She has a drink of water and, if she eats all her lunch is given a yoghurt or piece of fruit. She goes to bed at 12.45 -1pm for 1.5 -2hrs max – I wake her now after 2 hours (should I be waking her after 1.5 hours?). She has a snack at 3pm of cheese, biscuits and a drink of milk. Tea is at 6.15-30pm and she has whatever we are having or jacket potato with filling, sausage, mash and vegetables, meatballs, home-made ravioli (her favourite) etc. The weekends are very much the same.
The problem is that she is starting to refuse food at nursery and food I know she loves at home, so I have been throwing it away and giving her nothing else till next mealtime but this means she often stands and the fridge crying for half an hour or wakes early from lunch-time nap.
Nina

In order for your daughter to stop refusing food you know she likes at mealtimes I think you should begin to cut down on her snacks on home days. Instead of a biscuit with her drink, offer a small piece of fresh fruit or raw chopped vegetables. As Grace eats her breakfast quite late and her lunch at 12 midday, she is not really hungry for it having filled up on a biscuit mid-morning. I am sure if she ate breakfast by 8am and had a small snack mid-morning she would be ready for her lunch. If she still continues to refuse her food at lunch, cut back on her breakfast a little. Give her Weetabix or porridge and fruit, with milk to drink. You could replace the pancake with a small fruit yoghurt if you think she is still hungry.

Again in the afternoon, give her water or well-diluted juice, and offer a piece of fruit, ricecake or very plain biscuit.

I am aware from your day that Grace eats her tea quite late which is why you give her cheese and milk mid-afternoon. If you could bring her tea forward to 5/5.30pm I am sure she will manage with a smaller snack and then eat a good tea.

Obviously on nursery days you cannot limit her daytime snacks so offer her a smaller portion at teatime if she is refusing her food. Continue to offer the foods you know she likes but keep the portions small so as not to overwhelm her.

I agree that it is best not to offer alternatives at mealtimes, as toddlers can become fussy and faddy quite easily. By being offered a small but healthy snack twice a day, and perhaps smaller portions at mealtimes Grace will continue to eat a varied and healthy diet.

Feeding FAQ: 18-24 months – Food Fussiness

Daniel (20 months) hates getting his hands dirty and I think it’s making him a fussy eater

My son Daniel is almost 20 months and has become incredibly difficult at mealtimes over the last few months. I followed your Contented Feeding Guide from when I started weaning him and he used to be a great eater, eating anything in front of him. Over the last few months, he has got so fussy that the only thing he’ll eat is spaghetti bolognaise, oat porridge and yoghurt. I am now at the point where he is refusing even these and he refuses to try anything new – I am at my wits’ end. Occasionally he will attempt to feed himself his yoghurt with a spoon but gets very upset if his hands get dirty. He has never been interested in finger foods as his hands get dirty and he doesn’t like it. He also gets upset if he gets food on his clothes. I have tried to get him to play with playdough and get him to help spread butter and jam on toast etc to make it fun but he really hates being dirty. What am I meant to do? Are these two separate issues? I am not and have never been fazed about him making a mess – in fact, I would be so happy if he did pick up a handful of food and so don’t know where it is coming from. Please help! Many people have told me it’s a phase and he’ll grow out of it but I am starting to think it’s just getting worse and worse all the time.
Nicky

Daniel seems to have two separate issues here as you say he once was a very good eater. His food refusal is frustrating but continue to offer small portions of different foods rather than just the ones you know he will accept. If he eats very little, remove the food without comment and let the meal end. Offer him the food at his next snack time. Make sure he is not having too much juice or water between mealtimes which will affect his appetite. If you feel his milk consumption is high, then cut back on that. A child of Daniel’s age needs between 12 and 17ozs daily, with some of that coming from cheese, sauces, fromage frais etc.

Daniel needs to learn how to use a spoon himself, despite his dislike of being dirty. I suggest that you encourage him by handing him a spoon of his own at every meal. Try to feed him fairly dense things such as mashed potato which will stay on his spoon easily. If you have to, feed him at the same time to begin with but really encourage Daniel to do it himself. One way to do this is to share his mealtimes and sit down yourself with a plate of food to eat.

He is of an age when he needs to learn the social side of mealtimes. If you have friends with children of similar ages or possibly a little older, invite them round for tea so he sees how other children feed themselves without worrying. It may take a few visits for him to really be aware of what they are doing.

When he becomes upset at being dirty, leave a small sponge beside him so he can wipe his fingers. I think that in this case you really have to encourage him to be as independent as possible, so that he becomes more and more adept, but also used to the feel of food on his hands at times. Try to give him dryish finger food such as bread, breadsticks and rice cakes to begin with and then progress on to small pieces of cheese, vegetarian sausage and strips of omelette.

Try to use fun ways of presenting food to him, making faces with small pieces of vegetable on a small round of mashed potato, cutting pieces of bread spread with mashed tuna or egg into different shapes, adding broccoli florets as “trees” to a “house” cut from a simple omelette. Cookery books for young children will have more ideas. Look around for cheap, decorated picnic ware and children’s plastic plates and bowls with familiar storybook characters on them. Offering his food on these may act as an incentive for eating.

Finding ways to get Daniel more used to the sensation of different textures on his hands may need some thought. Keep trying with the play dough and spreading ideas. Again, you may have to initiate the playing while he watches to begin with.
Does Daniel enjoy playing in his bath with water? If he does, give him times of water play during the day. Cover him with a plastic all-over apron to ensure he is not distressed by wet clothes, then sit him on the floor with a washing up bowl half- full of water. Add a few bubbles and some small toys, especially things which pour such as toy cups or plastic stacking beakers. Tea strainers and funnels can also be used. Sit with him and show him how to pour water out over his hands, or over yours. Making a game out of it may help his dislikes. Add some food colour one day and see if he reacts to that. This may be an activity you have to offer several times before he becomes more willing to join in. Keep the sessions short to begin with. There are other things you find at home which you could give Daniel to play with which will give him plenty of tactile experience without getting “dirty”. A small bowl of dried rice or lentils again can be used for pouring over the hands and when the weather gets warmer you could introduce Daniel to a sandpit.

Some children do find it difficult to accept “dirty” hands, however unfazed you are with them but thinking of ways to make them more aware of different textures first can go a long way to them accepting the feeling of something on their hands.

Feeding FAQ: 18-24 months – Food Fussiness

Four weeks after illness my 20mth old son is still not eating properly again

My son has always been a good eater – apart from when he is ill or has a tooth coming through. During these times he will rely on sandwiches, toast and yoghurts. Because I know that he has always got back to normal eating once he feels better, I have gone along with this.

However, about four weeks ago, he got a bad chesty cold. Now he still has a bit of a cough and runny nose, but he is pretty much better – the problem is that he is still not eating. He sleeps fine – from 7pm til 7/7.30am and has a proper lunchtime nap.

He eats a Weetabix for breakfast at about 8am, then on the days when I have him he pretty much goes through to lunchtime (12 or 12.30pm) – maybe with a breadstick in between. Lunch has become cheese spread sandwiches and an organic, child-sized yoghurt, then he sleeps from around 1pm for an hour or an hour and a half. Until yesterday he has been having a little cup of milk when he wakes from his nap, but I decided to cut that out today in an attempt to get him to eat better.

Teatime is usually at 5pm and at the moment he will only eat toast or crackers and a cheese dip. Whenever I offer him anything else he just pushes the plate away. I know that the childminder tends to give him snacks throughout the day so I have asked her not to from now on. I usually have his cup with water available to him when ever he wants it – but he doesn’t drink huge quantities at once.

How do I encourage my son to go back to eating the variety of foods he used to? He hasn’t eaten any fresh fruit or vegetables now for about 4 weeks.
I offer him a proper meal every teatime – but every night it is refused.

Help! I am getting really upset that after all my efforts to ensure that he doesn’t turn into a fussy eater – he has done just that. What do you advise?

In the last 24 hours he has taken 1 Weetabix with milk, 2 mini breadsticks, mid-morning, offered cottage pie at lunchtime and refused. Given 2 slices of wholemeal bread with Dairylea cheese spread. Ate all of these and left the cherry tomatoes. 1 fruit yoghurt. Snack of raisins offered mid-afternoon. Tea: offered mashed potato, mixed vegetables and fishfingers. Refused them all so made toast which he ate. Refused sliced bananas. He took a cup of warm milk before bedtime.

Coaxing a child back into eating well again after illness can take time and determination, especially with this age group whose appetite can be small even when they are well. Now that you feel your son is much better you may have to begin to get a little tougher about offering him options when a meal is refused. Although you were lenient during his illness, now that he has recovered you can begin not to offer alternatives if a meal is refused. Very few toddlers will starve themselves. If they are really hungry and offered tasty, attractive, small meals they will accept them once they have realized there is no option being given. It may take a few days for this to happen and your son may protest, but persistence and remaining calm about food and his intake will help you immensely.

Serving food in a fun and different way can help. A simple meal of sausage and mashed potato can be turned into a spiky hedgehog sitting in grass made from peas. To begin with make his portions very small. Use a table spoon of potato in a mound on a plate. Slice two small chipolatas into “spikes” and add to the potato. Surround the hedgehog with a dessertspoonful of peas. You could add eyes made with two slices of carrot and present to him with a flourish. Give him portions which are smaller than he may have had in the past. It is far better for both of you if he clears his plate of a small portion, than picks away and appears to eat little of a larger one. Once he has finished the food on his plate ask him if he would like a little more, but don’t push him. Give him a very small portion of “seconds” if he would like some, and if he doesn’t manage to finish it then just remove his plate.

Think of different ways to present his food. You may have picnic plates which can be used, or serve teddy-sized pieces of pizza on a dolls tea set and enjoy a tea party with the teddies one afternoon.

Make fruit smoothies with natural yoghurt and fresh fruits. Spoon a small amount into an egg cup and present him with it, along with a tiny egg spoon.

Keep the portions small and serve his food in bite-sized pieces. Dips are often popular. Use a simple tomato sauce recipe and offer with steamed vegetable batons as well as one or two chicken or fish goujons to dip into it. Once you begin to think of ways to make ordinary meals enticing and attractive your son will probably begin to try things again, even if the first few days are met with refusal. If you are stuck for ideas many toddler cook books have plenty of “picture food” dishes which you can adapt and use as inspiration.

If your son rejects a meal, then without comment take the dish away and let him get down from the table. Offering him an alternative or yoghurt is no longer an option if you want things to change. It can be hard when you worry that your child is not eating but within a few days of not having an alternative he is bound to be accepting your meals again as he will realize the easy option is no longer on offer.

If your son usually receives a snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon, wait until then to offer him something else to eat. Make sure that this snack time is at least two hours before his next meal is due. Again you will need to offer him things which will entice him to eat, even though you may want to give him the things you know he will accept such as a breadstick. To help him get used to fruit again make up some ice lollies using fresh juice or natural yoghurt flavored with fruit puree and frozen. Another idea would be to have a selection of different fruits and use them as batons for a natural yoghurt dip. Again keep the portions very small, and take time to enjoy sharing a snack like this with your son. Don’t push him to eat more than he wants. Remove the snack after 15- 20 minutes and try not to comment if he has eaten nothing. Praise him when he does try something, but remaining calm and matter of fact about the whole issue is the best approach.

It is not easy to see your child constantly rejecting food you know he has accepted previously. Rejection of food is one of the hardest things to cope with for a mother, as the concern is always there that your child will be hungry. A few days of little eating will not affect him in the long run. You may have to find ways of passing the time before the next meal if he takes a few days to begin to accept food properly again. But activities such as painting and play dough can be arranged, as well as plenty of outdoor physical activity to help encourage his appetite.

Keep a diary for yourself of what he eats each day, however small it appears to you, looking at the overview of a week you will probably find he has begun to eat a wider variety of food again, once sandwiches and toast are no longer always offered. His appetite may still be small, as it can take a while for a toddler to regain this after a time of illness.

If, after a week of serving small, attractive meals with no alternatives your son is still refusing to eat properly it would be wise to discuss your concerns with your health visitor or doctor.

Feeding FAQ: 18-24 months – Food Fussiness

I have a little boy, who will turn two next month. Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting concerned that he’s not eating enough. He used to guzzle every meal, no matter what was offered, but now he just picks at some meals and I can’t seem to do anything to make him finish what’s on the plate.

Just as you can lead a horse to water but can’t make them drink, there is sometimes nothing you can do to get your toddler to eat his meal. But this is generally no cause for concern. Virtually every child naturally eats enough to satisfy their needs, but it is often not spread evenly between the three meals of each day. They may pick at breakfast and lunch, and then demolish several platefuls at the evening meal. Or they may eat like a sparrow for a full day but make up for it with super-sized portions the next day. To reassure yourself you could try keeping a 3-day food diary to examine your child’s meal pattern – you just can’t rely on looking at what they eat at one meal or even over one day. Note down all that is eaten over a three day period, then add up how many portions he has eaten from each food group: dairy; meat, fish, poultry and alternatives; fruit and vegetables; and carbohydrates or starchy foods. Divide this by three to get an average amount per day and then look at your son’s overall intake. You can check up on what makes up a portion and how many are recommended for each food group using The Contented Child’s Food Bible by Gina Ford. Another tip is to check that your son isn’t drinking more than the recommended amount of milk, or any more than small amounts of sweetened drinks (including fruit juices), as these can fill children up and take away their appetite for solid foods. If you would like extra reassurance you could also take your son to his Health Visitor or GP for a height and weight check.
You may wonder why your growing son seems to be eating less and yet remains quite healthy. Children naturally reduce their food intake relative to their body weight (in other words, they need less calories per kilogram of body weight) as they age, and this is most obvious during a child’s second year. This happens because a baby’s rate of growth is most rapid during their first year – they approximately triple their weight during this time. This slows down dramatically to about a 25% weight increase during their second year. I notice that my one-year-old often eats as much, and sometimes more than, my almost-three-year-old, but as they are both growing and developing healthily I know this is no cause for concern. I do wonder, though, how my younger son manages to fit quite so much into his little, but very round, tummy!

Sleeping FAQ: 18-24 Months – Other

My 20-month-old daughter has started nursery and can’t stay awake till lunch.

I have a problem with my 20 month old daughter’s midday nap at the moment.

Up until now, she has been a perfect Gina Ford baby: happy and lively, except when tired. She sleeps and settles well by herself for her daytime naps (12:30 – 14:30) and night-time sleep. She sleeps well from 7pm-7am (and will even sleep till 8am if I leave her). She has only dropped her morning nap a month and a half ago (which was challenging enough as she was barely making it to 12:15/12:30pm). But it took a couple of weeks and she was fine.

Two weeks ago she started going to nursery school (I think she’s ready because she is constantly asking for friends and I can see that she is bored). The plan was that I was going to pick her up at 12pm and take her home for her 2 hour nap. But the teacher says she is so tired at school, she goes down at 11:00 and then only sleeps for an hour, sometimes now for an hour and a half. So with her having last slept at 12:30 she is VERY CRABBY and tired for pretty much the rest of the day. She does make it to 6:45-7pm and will settle OK. But the afternoon is VERY long with such a unhappy baby.

I tried twice in the afternoons to make her sleep at about 2:30pm to 3:30pm, but she screamed/cried for about 10 minutes before falling asleep eventually (my nerves!). Her mood was much better for the rest of the day though. I recall that Gina mentioned that is was better to have 1 long sleep, rather than 2 shorter ones.

I really don’t know what to do – I spoke to the teacher and asked her to see if she can keep her awake longer, but the teacher said that she gets so tired she goes and lies on the carpet in an attempt to sleep. The teacher says it is difficult for her keep her awake.

Do you think she will get used to all the extra stimulation and will stretch longer herself eventually?

As the weeks go by and your daughter becomes more used to the demands of nursery school she will be more able to cope until midday. Until then I suggest that you try for her to have a short afternoon nap. It may take her a few days to get used to the idea but as it seemed to be better for her I would persevere. Because she is having so much stimulation in the morning she will easily become overtired and this may result in early morning waking or problems with going to bed. This afternoon sleep is only a temporary measure until she is able to cope better in the mornings.

If you really find her crying distressing when taking a nap later build in some quiet times in the afternoon. Spend 20-30 minutes enjoying books together snuggled up on the sofa or watch a short video, so she is resting rather than becoming overtired and fractious.

If she struggles to get through the morning even with an afternoon nap, and your morning schedule allows it, why not let her sleep a little later in the morning as you say she would willingly do this? Plenty of children younger than your daughter sleep until nearer 8am and still don’t have a problem going down at 7pm for a full night’s sleep. She has lots going on in her life at the moment and will get much more out of nursery school if she has had enough sleep.

Sleeping FAQ: 18-24 Months – Daytime Sleep

Grace is 18 months and not ready to drop her morning nap.

My daughter is 19 months old on 4th February and still has a morning nap when at home. She goes to nursery three days a week and sleeps for 2 hours at lunchtime. She is always in bed for 7pm and sleeps through till 7am. On the days I do not work and I usually wake Grace at 7 -7.15am. She always shows signs of being tired at around 9.15 -.9.30am. She will even start climbing the stairs so rather than keep her up as I have in the past to attempt to cut out the morning sleep, I let her have a nap for 45 minutes. She always falls asleep immediately so is obviously tired. At the weekend we usually leave Grace to wake herself. Even if she wakes later such as 8am – 8.30 she still is ready for bed again a couple of hours later, so I put her to bed and we alter the routine from there.

I truly believe she is not ready to drop her morning nap, but I’m concerned that she should have by this age. I will look out for signs though such as early waking or being hard to settle at lunchtime nap so I will reduce and gradually cut out morning nap. Is there anything else I should look out for?

On the days I have tried to keep her up she is too tired to eat her lunch and will end up screaming when she is put to bed for a sleep as she is obviously overtired.

Many thanks
Nina

As you rightly suspect, it would seem that Grace is not ready to drop her nap on home days. She is probably kept going at nursery with all the other children around her but then catches up when at home. You are doing all the right things. As she is not cutting back on her midday sleep or waking early just let her drop it naturally. Be guided by her. If you notice that she is going down at 9.15/9.30 but not falling asleep straight away, or begins to be more interested in playing with her toys than climbing the stairs to bed then that is the time to think about dropping it.