Nap time is truly a gift from God. Toddlers need it and, often times, parents and caregivers need the break just as much as the child. However, how long do toddlers need a nap and when should they stop taking one? Here’s what the experts say about how to determine when to eliminate the afternoon nap.
According to babycenter.com, “toddlers need approximately 12 to 14 hours of sleep” a day. Thus, if your child is only sleeping ten to eleven hours at night, they should definitely be taking a nap. Interestingly enough, at age four, “more than 50 percent of children are still taking nap.” Some tips for helping your toddler take a nap are to put them down in the same place everyday. A lot of times our schedules get busy and your little one may always be in the go. Also, just like bedtime, a nap time routine is important. Reading stories, listening to soothing music or even brushing teeth may help prepare your toddler for his or her nap. A black out curtain may also help dim the room so it is easier to sleep.
Overall, sleeping habits are important too. Parents adviser Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., author of Sleeping Through the Night says “the more regular a child’s naptime, waking time, and bedtime are, the more likely it’ll be that his internal clock will run smoothly and that he’ll fall asleep more quickly and easily.” While this does not always apply to vacations and birthday parties, the regularity of a child’s bedtime can also effect nap time. Toddlers who stay up too late or are constantly having a inconsistent schedule may be tired but still not take a nap.
On a personal note, I have been having trouble getting my two and a half year old to sleep during the afternoon. Yet, everyday, I still go through the ritual of having a snack, reading stories, turning on the noise machine and putting her down for a nap. Sometimes, she sleeps. Sometimes, she doesn’t. However, at least she gets some rest and I get some time to clean, write and, sometimes, rest. For me, consistency is the key. Also, kids don’t always know what is best for them so of course it is more exciting to stay up. Often time, nap time is simply a battle. Thus, if your toddler is suddenly refusing a nap, stay strong and remember, sleep is an important ingredient in a happy, healthy life.
According to parents.com, there are some signs to help recognize when your child may no longer need a nap. One may be if your toddler is frequently “fidgety and restless at naptime.” Another sign is if your child doesn’t have tantrums in the late afternoon even when he or she “misses” an afternoon nap. And, if your toddler does take a nap, he or she may have difficulty going to sleep at the “regular bedtime.”
It is to be noted that these ideas are based on personal experience and research. There are many different sleep books and ideas out there.
When Will My Toddler Stop Needing a Nap babycenter.com
Recbecca R. Kahlenberg Nap Time parents.com