Nap Time Revisited: Schedules, Routines, and When It Ends
Naptime always brings a sigh of relief for tired parents, as it guarantees at least an hour of quiet time. Naps are essential for growing babies, toddlers, and even preschoolers, and following a naptime routine helps. It's also important to know when naps change, when naps stop, and what to do instead.
By about four months of age, most infants start to develop patterns in their nap schedules. Times might vary a little bit each day, but at about this age, infants often fall into a pattern of three naps per day. These naps are crucial for development. Negative sleep patterns and associations can begin early, and that can have consequences as kids grow. Insufficient sleep can result in frequent illnesses, poor concentration, mood problems, behavior problems, and an increased risk for high blood pressure and/or diabetes down the line.
As babies become toddlers, the nap schedule will shift. General excitement about life can also result in more of a struggle when it comes to getting busy toddlers down for a nap. Toddler nap refusal is perfectly normal and does not mean that your toddler needs to drop his nap.
Most toddlers are down to one nap a day (for about one to three hours) by 18 months, although it can happen as early as 10 months and as late as 24 months.
Children are rapidly developing physically, psychologically, and socially during these early years, and adequate sleep plays an important role in this development. It's vital to make sleep a priority for each child in the family, even if that means various nap and bedtimes.
Some toddlers even prefer frequent catnaps. As long as they're getting enough sleep overall, this shouldn't be a cause for concern.
Children between the ages of 1 and 3 need 12-14 hours of sleep. On average, most children in this age range are only getting about 10 hours of sleep. It's hard to learn and socialize when you're always throwing a tantrum.
Somewhere between the ages of 3 and 5 (3 ½ is average), your busy little preschooler will probably drop the nap. Some lucky parents will have little ones who nap clear through kindergarten, but most need less sleep as they approach school. They do, however, need quiet time.
Continue reading for some tips to help you help your child sleep well: