Naps can be beneficial to children of all ages, but unfortunately your child won’t always agree. If you child has not been napping often enough, you probably have a fussy child who is prone to tears and tantrums later in the day. Of course, you want to try for regular naps, but a great alternative is a Hush Hour that provides rest time for children, to eliminate the fussies.
The Hush Hour can rejuvenate your child enough to get through the remainder of the day happily, and it can give parents and caregivers a much-needed break in the middle of the day. A Hush Hour gives everyone the opportunity to have some time to themselves, recharge, and then reconnect for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Creating a consistent Hush Hour gives you the opportunity to relax or catch up on household or work tasks.
A Hush Hour is a specific set time when your child lays quietly in bed. There is no pressure to sleep, so he’s less likely to fight the concept. However, a tired child can easily drift off.
In this post, I lay out some strategies to make the Hush Hour as effective as possible...
Sleep is not required during the Hush Hour, but you want the setting to be relaxing and peaceful so that it can provide a similar calming effect as a nap. The Hush Hour can be in your child’s bedroom or a different room in the house, as long as they are spending undisturbed quiet time.
Turn off lights and remove distractions. A dimly lit, toy-free room (with the exception of some loveys) can be such a cozy environment for your child.
Just Enough Sound
You don’t want to provide anything too upbeat for the Hush Hour, but a perfectly quiet room can actually increase a child’s anxiety instead of calm them. Some perfect options for noise include relaxing music or white noise. A great solution for a child who resists the idea is to play an audio book of a children’s story. The beauty of a listening to a book instead of reading is that your child can close her eyes and achieve more rest. Choose books with soothing narrators and calming stories – this isn’t the time for The Hunger Games.
The Right Food
Some foods will increase your child’s ability to relax while others may create a sense of restlessness. A well-planned lunch or snack can be very helpful in helping to get your child to relax during the Hush Hour. The best foods include whole grains, green leafy vegetables, milk (cow’s milk, soy milk, or breast milk), avocados, nut butters, bananas, and seeds.
Yes, the Hush Hour is for children who are not sleepy enough to actually nap, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t rest in a comfy spot. Have your child set up her own comfy space that she will enjoy snuggling in. This could be her bed, a sleeping bag on the floor, a cushion in the corner, or on the sofa. Just be sure to pick a spot that works best for everyone.
Since I work at home, my children have had all sorts of locations for the Hush Hour - my office, the sofa, or in a stroller parked beside me. Just knowing that mom was nearby allowed them to get a nice rest and provided me some productive work time.
Massages, back scratching, or gentle touches can help your child relax. Massage has been proven to stimulate circulation, digestion, the immune system, and promote rest. It also increases the connection between you and your child. So experiment with the idea of gentle massage for relaxation.
Scents have been used for a long time to induce relaxation. The most commonly used calming scents include lavender, chamomile, jasmine, and vanilla. You can find scented pillows, stuffed animals, sprays, sachets, or potpourri (just don’t use candles where a child will be left alone!) These smells also serve as a cue that it is time for the Hush Hour. (Just don’t ever use these around a baby.)
Routine and Ritual
Consistency and routine are one of the keys to creating an effective Hush Hour. Create a routine that will work for your family and then stick to that. This could consist of having lunch, cleaning up, choosing a stuffed animal, picking music or an audiobook, and then settling in to the Hush Hour nest. Have this be a normal part of every afternoon.
You will want to assure your child that the Hush Hour has a specific beginning time and a specific end time. You can set an iPod or clock radio to play soft music for the entire one hour period of time, and then when the music stops, your child knows that rest time is over. This technique is helpful because if your child does fall asleep during rest time, he will continue to sleep even when the soothing sounds stop (compared to the abrupt sound of a timer or alarm).
When to Discontinue the Hush Hour Your child will eventually reach the age where she functions well without a nap, but there is no harm in continuing the Hush Hour. Every human being benefits from a break in the middle of the day so if you and your child enjoy the peace and tranquility, continue the practice as long as it works for your family!
Read more tips in The No-Cry Nap Solution.