Should my child be taking a nap?

Should my child be napping? How long should they nap? Where is the best place for a nap? How many naps per day?

Should my child take a nap?

Hey there!
Are you even more exhausted than usual lately?
Are you constantly struggling to keep your little ones awake throughout the day?
If so, it’s time to talk about the importance of naps for your child (and for you, too!).
As a mom myself, I know how tempting it can be to try to keep your child awake longer, especially if you feel like they’ll sleep better at night. But trust me, naps are crucial for both their development and your sanity. So, let’s dive into why naps are so essential and how you can ensure your child is getting enough rest.

Do Naps boost a child's mood and energy levels?

First and foremost, naps can dramatically improve your little one’s mood and overall energy levels, allowing them to be more alert and engaged throughout the day.
Sleep is essential for cognitive development, and regular naps allow children to consolidate memories and process new information.
In addition, a well-rested child is often happier and more willing to explore and play, making for a better quality of life for both them and you!

can naps help my child sleep better at night?

Contrary to popular belief, skipping nap time isn’t always the key to getting your child to sleep through the night.
In fact, overtired children are often more prone to waking up throughout the night, making for a more restless sleep cycle. By ensuring your child gets enough rest during the day, you can prevent over-exhaustion and set them up for a better night’s sleep overall.

Naps provide much-needed breaks for parents

Let’s be real: taking care of a child is exhausting work, and sometimes, you just need a break.
“Naps allow for some much-needed downtime during the day, whether you use that time to catch up on work, take a nap yourself, or indulge in a guilty pleasure TV show.”
Giving your child a designated nap time also creates structure in your day and can make it easier to plan more activities during their awake time.

Is it important to establish a consistent nap schedule?

Yes, like most aspects of parenting, consistency is key when it comes to nap time. Establishing a regular nap schedule can be incredibly beneficial for both you and your child.
It helps regulate their natural sleep cycles and ensures they’re getting enough rest throughout the day. Additionally, knowing when you can expect to have some downtime during the day can help you better plan your own schedule and personal needs.

Not all naps are created equal

Finally, it’s important to recognize that not all naps are created equal.
Younger children may need up to four or five naps a day, while older children may only need one longer nap. Additionally, some children may struggle with falling asleep during the day, making it necessary to establish a nap time routine that helps them relax and wind down.

“Pay attention to your child’s natural rhythms and needs, and adjust their nap schedule as necessary to set them up for success.”

You maybe asking... What is the recommended sleep by age?

Let’s dive into that…

Newborns require a lot of sleep, and it is recommended that they sleep for up to 16-18 hours a day. Between 0-6 weeks, they can stay awake for only 45 minutes to an hour at a time. The period between naps varies significantly from one baby to another at this stage, but 45 minutes is a general rule of thumb. Ignoring these signs will leave your little one cranky, irritable, and temporarily unable to fall asleep.

At this stage, your baby will require about 14-16 hours of sleep per day. It is very common for their daytime naps to be shorter, and you may need to have more feedings. Baby’s wake windows are more predictable as they are starting to develop a routine. You can expect them to be awake for about 60 to 90 minutes before needing to go back to sleep.

The sleep patterns of your baby should be well established by now. They will probably take three naps a day, each lasting for 1-3 hours each. They sleep for 12-14 hours in total every day. Staying awake for 2-3 hours at a time is not uncommon at this age. It would also be best if you established a specific bedtime routine to help your baby establish healthy sleep habits.

At this stage, your baby is starting to transition from three naps a day to two naps. Babies usually sleep for 11-13 hours overall at this age. Your baby will now be awake 2 to 3 hours between each nap.

At 12 months, some babies are ready to make the switch from 2 naps to 1. They may nap for 1.5-2.5 hours in the morning, followed by a shorter afternoon nap. When the afternoon nap starts becoming short (20 min) and it takes them a long time to fall asleep, then you know it’s time to start the transition from 2 naps to 1 long mid-day nap. Babies at 12 months usually sleep for 11-12 hours each night. They might be awake for 3-5 hours between naps at this stage.

18 Months to 3-Year-Olds:
By 18 months, babies should be on a 1 consistent mid-day nap schedule. The end of nap and bedtime should be about 5 hrs apart, so an earlier bedtime (think 6-6:30) at this age works well so they don’t become overtired and hyper. You can still expect a solid 12 hrs of sleep at night.

3 Years +:
Usually around the 3rd birthday and sometimes even sooner, toddlers are ready to drop the nap completely. You’ll know it’s time to drop the nap when they are spending most of their nap time playing in their crib or are resisting the nap. This is a good time to start implementing quiet time instead of a nap. An early bedtime of 6-6:30 works well at this age too.

Understanding napping needs is important for both you and your baby to establish a healthy sleep routine that is predictable and manageable. Remember every child is different, and you should trust your instincts as a mom!

“Don’t be alarmed or worried if a nap transition takes more time to establish.”

Sleep routines are an important aspect of your child’s development, and spending time understanding your baby’s needs is vital.

Overall, ensure that your baby gets plenty of sleep, and you will see the benefits in their growth and development.

Phew! That was a lot of information, but I hope it helped you understand why naps are so important for your child’s overall health and happiness.
Remember, it’s okay to feel frustrated or overwhelmed when it comes to establishing nap time routines – especially during nap transitions or sleep regressions.  By being consistent and prioritizing rest for both yourself and your child, you’ll create a routine that benefits everyone involved.

So go ahead, take that nap time break, and don’t feel guilty about it – you’re doing a great job!

Don’t forget to grab our FREE “Sample Schedule” printable so you can stay on top of your child’s sleep needs.