While a daily nap may sound like a dream to you, your 2-year-old won’t go down without a fight. Is it better to give in or stand your ground?

Daily naps for children are essential for good days and good nights. Many parents believe their child will sleep better at night without a nap during the day. However, if your child is overly tired, they may become stressed and irritable, and their behavior may actually worsen. Often they become overactive, making it difficult to fall asleep at bedtime. Only after age 5 will eliminating afternoon naps help a child go to bed earlier in the evening.

Napping daily can be beneficial for your children, working wonders for both their mood and yours. Children who nap have longer attention spans and are less irritable than those who are not napping. Naps are valuable and when they are given up – usually sometime after 3 years of age – they should be replaced with a structured quiet time. Children need this time to re-group, as do their parents. This quiet time should be used for looking at books, working puzzles and play that is less active. This is not a time for TV, videos or games. All children need to learn to entertain themselves and quietly play alone.

So when are naps no longer necessary?

When his or her personality and behavior becomes consistent in the afternoon hours -- usually between ages 3 and 5 -- it’s safe to forego the nap. But don’t give up naps too soon, as you may pay a big price.

Sleeping Through the Night

9-12 months:

10-12 hours of sleep at night plus 2 naps per day on a regular schedule.

15-24 months:

Morning naps are eliminated and will now nap only once each day. Usually 1 nap of 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

24-36 months:

Most children still benefit from an afternoon nap. They usually require 12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.

After 5 years:

Helpful to eliminate the afternoon naps to get better sleep at night. Be careful not to give up naps before your child is ready.

This article was written by Donna Freiner, RN.


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