Recently my boyfriend’s niece says she is a big girl now (3-years-old) and she doesn’t need a nap anymore. She honestly seems to be doing great overall without a nap. How her mom knew it was time to stop? I did a bit of research to find out. Tell us your tips on how you knew it was time to stop naptime too!
Studies show that many children stop taking naps at around age 4, but some experts say that may be too soon. Daytime sleep is important for kids during preschool and even throughout kindergarten. If your child falls asleep easily at naptime, it’s probably a sign he or she still needs a daytime nappy/snooze. The following are indications that it’s time to stop:
- Your child is consistently fidgety and restless at naptime.
- He/She doesn’t have meltdowns in the late afternoon when misses his or her nap.
- When he does nap, he has a hard time going to sleep at his regular bedtime.
Judith Owens, pediatric sleep expert says that, “Most children under the age of 1 take two naps a day — usually one in the morning and another in the afternoon. By 18 months, most have given up the morning nap but still need an afternoon snooze to make it through dinner without a meltdown. Even when you’ve kissed the morning nap goodbye, your toddler’s likely to continue needing her afternoon nap for quite some time. At age 4, more than 50 percent of children are still taking naps. And even though the majority of children (about 70 percent) stop napping at 5 years, 3 in 10 still need a nap at this age.”
However, every kiddo is different.
Much depends on how many hours your toddler sleeps at night. Aside from the obvious fact that you need time to check your e-mail, make a phone call, or clean up the house, naps are critical to growing children. “Research suggests that physical and mental development takes place when kids sleep-both at night and during the day,” says Daniel Lewin, Ph.D., director of pediatric behavioral sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. Studies have shown that kids who nap have longer attention spans and are less fussy than those who don’t. And perhaps the best reason of all: When kids rest during the day, they tend to sleep longer at night. Toddlers need approximately 12 to 14 hours of sleep in each 24-hour period.
It can be hard as your toddler grows older to have him or her take a nap. Toddlers want to explore and discover the world, and especially hate to miss out on anything, even if they are super exhausted.
Want a happy nap?
Do: Build a nap routine and aim to stick to the same naptime each day, but be flexible on special occasions.
Don’t: Wait until your child is asleep to put him down in his crib or bed.
Do: Encourage your baby to sleep in her own crib or bed for naps after she’s 2 months old.
Don’t: Keep your child up too late at night, which will interfere with his daytime sleep.
Do: Keep her room as quiet and dark as possible.
Do: Put her down for her nap in the same place where she sleeps at night.
If your child gives up her naps altogether before she’s 4 years old, at least offer her some quiet time every day. Tell her that children rest after lunch so they’ll have enough energy to play later on.
Keep in mind that most children need lots of sleep. BabyCenter sleep expert Jodi Mindell, author of Sleeping Through the Night, says, “If a child has poor sleep habits or refuses to go to bed before 11 at night, his parents will think that he just doesn’t need a lot of sleep. That’s probably not true — in fact, it’s likely that such a child is actually sleep-deprived.”
If you are questioning if your child still needs a name, below are questions that answer if your child probably needs one:
- Does your child fall asleep almost every time he’s in a car?
- Do you have to wake your child almost every morning?
- Does your child seem cranky, irritable, or overtired during the day?
- On some nights, does your child seem to crash much earlier than his usual bedtime?
Eventually your child will stop napping and start doing all of his sleeping at night. Preschoolers and young elementary school students still need up to ten or 11 hours of sleep a night, but that amount will gradually diminish.
Unfortunately, there’s no way of really knowing what age your little one will nap until. But, hopefully these tips and facts helped you to understand your kiddos daytime sleep.