On occasion I’m asked about whether we provide a nap time. We do provide for a nap time for every age group and in our opinion it is an essential part of a child’s growth and development. To support our philosophy on the importance of nap time we have researched and found an article that we would like to share. The article can be found on kidshealth.org , the most visited site devoted to children’s health and development. The following article was reviewed by Rupal Christine Gupta, MD in April of 2016.
The Importance of Naps
Nap. It is a small word, but for most parents a hugely important one. Why? Sleep is a major requirement for god health, and for young kids to get enough of it, some daytime sleep is usually needed. Crucial physical and mental development occurs in early childhood, and naps provide much-needed downtime for growth and rejuvenation.
Naps also help keep kids form becoming overtired, which not only takes a toll on their moods but may also make it harder for them to fall asleep at night. Naptime gives parents a brief oasis during the day and time to tackle household chores or just unwind.
Sleep Needs by Age
There is no one-size-fits-all answer regarding how much daytime sleep kids need. It all depends on the age, the child, and the sleep total during a 24 hour period. For example, one toddler may sleep 13 hours at night with only some daytime catnapping, while another gets 9 hours at night but takes a solid 2 hour nap each afternoon.
Though sleep needs are highly individual, these age by age guidelines give an idea of average daily sleep requirements:
Birth to 6 months: Infants require about 14 to 18 total hours of sleep per day. Younger infants tend to sleep on and off around the clock, waking 1 to 3 hours to eat. As they approach four months of age, sleep rhythms become more established. Most babies sleep 9 to 12 hours at night, usually with an interruption for feeding, and have 2 to 3 daytime naps lasting about 30 minutes to 2 hours each.
6 to 12 months: Babies this age usually sleep about 14 hours total for the day. This usually includes about two naps per day, which may last 20 minutes for some babies, for others a few hours. At this age infants may not need to wake at night to feed, but may begin to experience separation anxiety, which can contribute to sleep disturbances.
Toddlers (1 to 3 years): Toddlers generally require 12 to 14 hours of sleep, including an afternoon nap of 1 to 3 hours. Young toddlers might still be taking two naps, but naps should not occur to close to bed time, as they may make it harder for toddlers to fall asleep at night.
Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): Preschoolers average about 11 to 12 hours of at night, plus an afternoon nap. Most give up this nap by 5 years of age.
School-agers (5 to 12 years): School agers need about 10 to 11 hours at night. Some 5 year olds might still need a nap, and if a regular nap isn’t possible, they might need an earlier bedtime.
Signs of Insufficient Sleep
Most parents underestimate the amount of sleep kids need, so be sure to watch your child’s behavior for signs of sleep deprivation which can range from the obvious, like fatigue, to more subtle problems with behavior and school work.
- Does my child act sleepy during the day?
- Does my child get irritable and cranky in the late afternoon?
- Is it a battle to get my child out of bed in the morning?
- Is my child inattentive, impatient, hyperactive, or aggressive?
- Does my child have trouble focusing on schoolwork and other tasks?
If you answered yes to any of these questions consider adjusting your child’s sleep or nap schedule. It may take several weeks to find a routine that works. Talk to you doctor too if you have concerns about your child’s sleep.
For toddlers and preschoolers, sticking to a naptime schedule can be more challenging. Though many do still love their nap, others do not want to miss out on a minute of the action and will fight sleep even as their eyes are closing. In this case do not let nap time become a battle, you can’t force your child to sleep but you can insist on some quiet time. Let your child read books or play quietly in his or her room. Parents are often surprised at how quiet time can lead to sleep time but even of it doesn’t, at least your child is getting some much needed rest. If your child has given up daytime naps, consider adjusting to an earlier bed time.
Many parents worry that naptime will interfere with kids bedtime, especially on days when a child takes a late-afternoon nap. Before you end naps entirely in an effort to wear out your child by bedtime, consider this: Well rested kids are quicker to settle down at night than overtired ones. Overtired kids are often “wired” and restless, unable to self-soothe at bedtime, and most importantly likely to wake up through the night.
If you feel your child’s late naptime is the cause of bedtime problems, try making the nap a little bit earlier, which may mean waking your child a little earlier in the morning so nap can begin sooner.
You might also try waking your child from a nap earlier than usual so he or she has a longer active period before bedtime. In other words, try making some adjustments before abandoning the nap – both you and your child will feel much better if there is one!
Here at all My Children Child Care & Learning Center we have found this article to be an excellent guide for helping parents to cope with their children’s sleep needs. As a guideline our young and older toddlers prepare for nap time here at AMC beginning after lunch. This period begins normally at 12 noon and most of our toddlers are sleeping by 12:15pm and wake by usually by 2:15 while all are up by 2:30 in preparation for their afternoon snack. Our preschoolers begin the nap time process starting at 12:30pm and are woken by 2:00pm each day in preparation for their snack time. As the article explains, all preschoolers are different and some may not sleep immediately therefore books and puzzles are given to these children to occupy their quiet time until they fall asleep.
We hope you have found this information to be helpful and please contact us to discuss any questions you may have.