The Magic of the Hush Hour

Posted by in No-Cry Nap

Children of all ages can benefit from daily nap time, but there will be times when your child simply refuses to sleep. Unfortunately, this can result in a fussy child who is prone to tears, whining, and tantrums. If a nap does not seem to be happening, you can still create a Hush Hour routine that will provide helpful rest time for children, regardless of their age or their desire to nap.

An additional benefit of the Hush Hour is that is can give parents and caregivers a much-needed break in the middle of the day. It gives everyone the opportunity to have some time to themselves, recharge, & then reconnect for the rest of the afternoon and evening. As much as we love our children, we still need (and deserve) a moment of time off now and then! Create a consistent Hush Hour in your home to give yourself that break to relax or catch up on work or household tasks.

To be most effective, the Hush Hour should occur at the same time every day. You will want to create a daily ritual that includes this Hush Hour in the afternoon, maybe after lunch or when your little one returns from daycare or school.


The Magic of The Hush Hour


The Setting

You want the setting of the Hush Hour to be relaxing and peaceful. Sleep is not required during the Hush Hour, but the setting should bring a calming effect similar to that of a nap. The Hush Hour can occur in your child’s bedroom or a different room in the house as long as they can spend quiet time undisturbed. If possible, remove toys and games from sight and just leave a few stuffed animals or your child’s usual sleep-time lovey.

Also, brightness alerts the human mind that it is time to be awake and active so giving your child a dimly lit room will be more restful. Children will find it easier to relax in a darkened room.



There is a fine line between a room being too noisy and too quiet. Noisy distractions can keep a child from resting, but a perfectly quiet room may increase a child’s anxiety. The Hush Hour can instead be filled with relaxing music, white noise, or even an audio book. Find something that will be comforting to your child. This sound can also cover up any random household noises that could interfere with your child’s peaceful break. It is helpful for your child to learn how to enjoy a calm, relaxed state so that he can carry the skill with him through adulthood.



The Hush Hour is for children who are not sleepy enough to actually nap, but they should still be set up in a comfy environment. Allow your child to help create her own comfy space that is fun to snuggle in and rest. This could be your child’s bed, a sleeping bag on the floor, a bean bag in the corner, or the sofa. Pick a spot that works best for everyone. Since I work at home, my children had all sorts of locations for rest time – in my office, on the sofa, or in a stroller parked beside me. I discovered that my children loved being near me and hearing the click-click of my computer keys. Just knowing that mom was nearby allowed them to get a nice rest and allowed me to have a productive work session.


The Magic of The Hush Hour


Smells have long been used to induce relaxation. The aromas of lavender, chamomile, jasmine, and vanilla are popular choices to invoke a calming environment for older children (they shouldn’t be used for babies.) You can find scented pillows, stuffed animals, sachets, or potpourri (don’t use candles around children!) Make sure the odor is subtle, as too much can have the opposite effect. These pleasant smells gradually become a cue for rest time and enhance the relaxation experience.



Food can affect your child’s ability to relax since there are some that help induce a feeling of calm and others that induce restlessness. A well-planned lunch or snack can be helpful in getting your child to relax during the Hush Hour. The best foods to aid in rest time? Whole grains, green leafy vegetables, milk (cow’s milk, soy milk, and breast milk), bananas, avocados, nut butters, and seeds.



Many children respond well to massage, back scratching, or gentle touch as a way to help them relax, Massage has been proven to stimulate circulation, digestion, boost the immune system, and promote rest. The added benefit is that massage can increase the connection between parent and child.


The Magic of The Hush Hour



Create a simple daily routine that leads up to the Hush Hour. This might consist of having lunch, cleaning up, choosing a stuffed animal to rest with, choosing music, and then settling into the Hush Hour nest.

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 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).


More than one Child in the House?

I always lumped my kids together when I could (having 4 it would have been crazy to do this separately!). So whether you keep your children together or apart for their Hush Hour depends on your kids. If they get too busy playing and won’t relax then put them in separate rooms. But if they do get enough rest keep them together – it’s lovely for long-term friendship building.


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.