Children have several milestones, and each one takes their own time to reach these milestones. The same holds true for napping as well. If there’s one thing you would have noticed as a parent or caregiver, it is this — kids nap a lot (as they should). As babies, they tend to sleep most of the day, and as they grow older, the amount of time spent napping lessens a bit, but they still do naps, maybe twice or thrice a day. This might worry you a bit, particularly if you’re comparing your child with the other children.
So this probably brings you to a few critical questions — when will my kid stop napping? Should my kids be sleeping so much? Does it have anything to do with energy levels or nutrition? Let’s find out!
At What Age Do Kids Ideally Stop Napping?
It’s important to know that napping is a normal part of a child’s routine during the developmental years. A study was conducted to understand nap time on 172 children. It was observed that most babies who fell between the age group of nine to twelve months took around two naps per day. As they grew older, nap times decreased to just one a day, and this was somewhere around the ages of fifteen to twenty-four months. All in all, most children stop napping completely around the age of seven (1).
Signs That Your Child Doesn’t Need Nap Time Anymore
Napping is essential, but you don’t have to force a siesta on your toddler. You will know that your child does not require a daily nap time if you observe the following signs:
- If your child does not seem to be falling asleep during their nap time, the chances are that they’re simply not sleepy and are ready to forego their sleep during the day. You will see that they are fidgety, restless, and just not interested in sleeping when previously, they didn’t have an issue falling asleep.
- Another sign that they are ready to skip nap time is if they do fall asleep but wake up early. If your child usually wakes up after an hour or two but has now started waking up after thirty minutes or less, it could mean that your child doesn’t need to nap that much.
- Your child may not need nap time if they find it hard to fall asleep during bedtime. It is essential to ensure that your child gets ample sleep at night. To prevent delay during bedtime, try to schedule nap time in such a way that there is a period of four hours of wake time before they fall asleep at night.
Helping Your Child Do Away With Nap Time
If you know that your child is ready to forego nap time, then you could help your little one do away with it by following these tips:
- You could plan some other activity during the usual nap time, one that isn’t too tiring. For example, how about reading a book instead of napping? Or maybe you could make your little one practice some quiet time.
- Avoid long rides during nap time, as a long drive can make your little one feel drowsy. This way, your child won’t have to have a nap and can skip it instead.
- Take it easy in the beginning. You can’t expect your child to stop napping all of a sudden. Let it happen in its own time, and when your child is ready, you’ll see that nap time decreases on its own.
When Is It Beneficial To Restart Napping Again?
As we saw above, as children grow up, their need for multiple naps in a day generally comes to an end. However, this is not the case for every child and it can vary widely depending on cultural habits or traditions as well. And in fact, there might be situations where it would be beneficial to let your child have small naps during the day. Naps have been linked to improvement in memory functions in humans (2). It’s also a great way to destress or fatigue our body and get some much-needed rejuvenation. If your child is engaged in heavy physical activity or intensive sports like football, or activities like rock climbing, chances are that they will be worn down from these activities. Sleep at night might not be enough to compensate for this hard work. In such cases, you can allow the practice of a short 30-minute nap sometime during the day. This small amount of rest can do wonders for your child and keep him/her energetic and motivated for the rest of the day.
Another reason you need to bring back naps in your child’s life is in case they are going through some ailments. Health issues can take a toll on our bodies, more so on children. If they underwent some heavy disease like a viral infection or even the flu, chances are that their bodies will continue to feel weak for some days or even weeks. Getting some additional nap moments during the day can help them cope with fatigue and weakness better. Good sleep combined with healthy eating is the perfect combination to bounce back from illnesses.
As you try to incorporate timely sleeping schedules in a child’s life, you will probably face hurdles every now and then. In today’s age of digital access, children are often engrossed in their tablets, phones, or video games. It’s often difficult for parents to put their children to bed. Such straying from the sleep schedule often leads to irregular sleeping habits in children. Often children would be resorting to napping to compensate for their loss of sleep during night time. Parents need to keep a close watch on their children’s sleep patterns and if need be a little strict with the daily sleep schedule. It’s also important to be patient with your child. As we mentioned before, every child reaches their milestone on their own time. Some children stop napping earlier than most, while others do so later. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!
- The Effects of Napping on Cognitive Function in Preschoolers
- The impact of frequent napping and nap practice on sleep-dependent memory in humans