Home & Life, Parenting

How Long To Leave Toddler In Crib If Not Napping

Little children love to spend time with others. They do not like to be alone for long periods of time and you should try to avoid leaving your little one awake in their crib for too long.

While there are no hard-set rules for how long you should leave your little one alone, there is some guidance you can follow. 

Much of the information in this article I gained from my experience, being a mother of three. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn along the way.

However,  I have also extensively researched The Family Education website as well as studies from Nicole Johnson, an Infant Sleep Specialist. 

So if you are struggling with knowing how long to leave your toddler in a crib, you need to read this article to alleviate some of the stress, we also have an article on how to convert your crib to a toddler bed as a helpful guide. I have kids of my own, so I know how difficult this process can be!

Beddy-Bye Time!

So when it comes to bedtime some parents will opt for the cry-it-out method, but even if you do this you still need to have limits on how long you’ll let your little one cry alone in their crib. 

This time can differ from child to child, but it is usually recommended that if your little one hasn’t fallen into slumber in thirty minutes, you should go and get them.

When this is the case I tend to cuddle up with or nurse them for another thirty minutes or so and then try again when they may be a little more sleepy. 

For toddlers, a good method is to let them know that you’ll come and check on them every so often.

This could be a five-minute time parameter, it could be ten, twenty, or even thirty depending on your own judgment.

Make sure you stick to these time limits, this will give your little one some comfort if they are struggling not napping.

They are at very least, not completely alone for long periods of time. I don’t get my little one out of the crib, I just let them see my face and it does bring them some comfort. 

Good-Morning, Gorgeous! 

Good-Morning, Gorgeous! 

When you go to wake up your baby in the morning, you’re likely to be greeted by one of two scenarios. Your little one is all sunshine and smiles, or they’re a bit cranky and grumpy.

How you will then approach their crib time will be determined by these moods.

Sunshine & Smiles

If your little one has woken up in a good mood this morning, they are more than likely going to be happy enough to entertain themselves for a little while.

I tend to find that as long as they have access to interactive toys, books, or teddies then you might be lucky enough to steal half an hour and finally get that washing on the line or reload the dishwasher. 

It is important to remember, though, that no matter how content your little one may seem in preoccupying themselves, they’ll be much happier around other people.

Babies under the age of 18 months often find being without their parents quite upsetting, they don’t tend to like being alone for very long. If you are sharing a small room with your baby check out our article  to see the best way to set up the space.

With that being said, leaving your little one awake in their crib in the morning for approximately 45 minutes is absolutely fine.

So you can take that time to get your things in order or just have a well-deserved rest for a brief moment, If this is your first child read the five things first time moms need to know about newborn, for more tips.

Cranky & Grumpy

If your little one has not welcomed the new day well, it is good practice to get them out of the crib. This is especially the case if they’re crying.

We all know how it feels to wake up in the morning and just really not be feeling the day. Parents understand that better than anyone. 

Now imagine those feelings while being so small and little. You wouldn’t want to be left wallowing all on your own, would you?

Babies and young children want and need comfort when they’re upset, so if your baby wakes up crying, where possible try never to leave them alone in the crib. 

I find that soothing them when they are in this mood will help to get them out of it much quicker. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Awake Time In The Crib Count?

It will vary depending on your baby. For some, every minute awake in the crib will be counted as wake time. Whereas for others it is sometimes classed as ‘half-time’ so if your baby was awake for 30 minutes before you got her up then it would count as 15 minutes.

Is It Okay To Lock Toddler In Room For Nap?

According to clinical psychologists, you should never lock a child in their room as it can have many adverse physiological and behavioral effects. 

Are 2-Year-Olds Supposed To Fight Naps?

It is very common for children around the 2-year mark to start fighting naps. This is only a temporary phase though, and you should continue to offer nap time. Even if they do not sleep, it does give them time to rest.

Final Thoughts

There are advantages and disadvantages to everything, and alone time in a crib is no exception.

If they are happy enough to spend some time alone before bed and in the morning, then it’s a great way for them to learn how to entertain themselves and use their imaginations.

And much like their parents, babies also like some quiet and alone time now and again. They just don’t need quite as much downtime. 

Then, on the flip side, a sad and crying baby shouldn’t really be left alone in their crib for hours, if you are transitioning your baby to crib, read here for tips. There could be many different reasons why they don’t want to be in their crib yet.

Perhaps they’re overstimulated and need more chilling time before bed, maybe they just want a little more parent time, they do really love you, you know, or they could even just be overtired because that’s a thing too.  If you are wanting to try organic nap mats, we have a great buyers guide for that!

Overall, there really aren’t any specific hard and set rules, and as a parent, you’ll know your own child better than I or anyone else ever could.

You will know what is best for them and for you. As long as you are setting limits to alone time and it is never for extended periods of time, then everything should be fine! 

Are you looking for more tips on transitioning from contact napping, check out our latest article.

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