Welcome to the ProSquad! Every week we'll be checking in with our crack team of experts to find answers to parenting's trickiest dilemmas and hottest issues. This week we hear from our sleep expert about toddler naps, and our work-life balance expert talks about managing distractions when you work at home.


My 2-year-old used to take a regular nap every afternoon. Now he skips it every other day. Is there anything I can do to get my quiet time back?

As the parent of a two-year-old, you undoubtedly appreciate the break that your toddler's nap provides! But your child's nap is more than much-needed quiet time for you; new research shows that naps help babies and young children process and retain information, and are important to their growth. At two, your child probably still needs his daily nap (over 90% of kids are still taking afternoon naps when they turn three). So continue to offer your toddler the opportunity to nap, with a dark, cool, quiet, and comfortable sleep environment.

Create a consistent wind-down ritual before naptime — for example, reading a few stories, snuggling a special toy, and singing a certain song — to help him relax and prepare for sleep. As his naps diminish, implement a quiet time in place of the nap. Offer quiet activities or books in his bedroom for a half-hour or so during the time that he used to nap. Continue to prepare for "quiet time" in the same way you prepared for his nap. Maintaining a consistent wind-down ritual will let him know that this is a time for rest; whether or not he sleeps is up to him.


Malia Jacobson is a sleep journalist and expert who contributes regularly to over 40 parenting publications. With clear, evidence-based solutions and sound advice, she inspires families to live healthy, well-rested lives. As the former moderator of a global sleep Website, she helped parents around the globe put their sleep troubles to rest. She's also the happy mom of two young children and the organizer of a popular parenting group near Seattle, Washington.


I'm in the process of adopting a little boy from Ethiopia. When should I start teaching him about the culture where he was born?

Now; it's never too early to begin incorporating your child's birth culture into your family, making it "yours." In fact, I encourage parents I work with to do so before their child arrives home. Parents can begin by learning as much as they can about their child's birth culture by reading books on history, customs, food, music, folklore, etc. I recommend parents purchasing books to read to their child as well as books their child can read when they are reading independently. Music and art are also great to have/listen to.

When parents are well-informed they can speak with authority and answer their child's (and others') questions, which will be asked of them. Begin educating yourself now so that you can share your son's birth culture with him. He will understand and fee pride that he "matters" (key for the child who has been adopted), that you love him deeply to have learned about and share his roots.


Adoption Pro, Judy M. Miller is an adoptive parent, adoption advocate, support specialist, and she coordinates and teaches parent preparation education to parents who are in the adoption process. Judy is a columnist for the adoption network, Grown in My Heart. Her essays and articles appear in adoption and parenting magazines and in A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families (Adams Media), Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? (EMK Press) and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom (Chicken Soup or the Soul).


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