Naptime. A secret saving grace most parents of young kids look forward to and rely on daily.
There have long been debates, however, on the best way to do naptime. What times of the day? How many for what age? Alone? Is it ok to skip naps? It’s enough to leave your head spinning.
If you have had this naptime debate with yourself, you’re not alone. We want to walk through the dos and don’ts of naptime so you can feel comfortable creating a nap schedule that works for your little ones and your family.
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Why is Naptime Important?
It’s no secret that everyone needs sleep. Getting enough sleep is essential for normal, everyday functioning. We have all been through a time where not enough sleep was had, and the effects were surely felt.
Kids need even more sleep. Their rapidly growing and developing bodies and brains need additional rest.
Young kids need more sleep than they are typically able to get during the night. Enter naptime. Young children need extra hours during the day to ensure they are getting the appropriate amount of sleep during the day.
This extra sleep during the day will also help prevent your child from becoming overtired. Every parent knows that overtiredness and kids don’t mix. Out-of-control moods and inability to calm down are just some signs of kids who have not gotten enough sleep.
Naptime is also crucial for parents. If you have several littles, sometimes the only time you can get to daily chores is during naptime. Of course, naptime for kiddos also means naptime for parents, sometimes.
Naptime is essential for young, growing kids. If you can help it, you should not skip naptime. Plus, proper nap schedules set you up for fewer bedtime battles.
How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?
Sleep needs vary by age. Even within age groups, kids might fluctuate depending on the amount of sleep they need, depending on factors like growth spurts, illness, or other things. Typically, sleep requirements by age are:
- Birth to 6 Months: 14-18 hours a day. Infants will sleep all day with 1-3 hour periods of awake time to eat. Around four months, a baby should develop a sleep schedule sleeping 9-12 hours at night with two or three daytime naps around 1-2 hours.
- 6 to 12 Months: 14-15 hours a day. Babies in this range still nap twice a day, usually, though they are likely shortening to 30 minutes or so.
- 1 to 3 Years: 12-14 hours a day. Toddlers typically take one afternoon nap for 1-3 hours.
- 3 to 5 Years: 11-12 hours a day. Some preschoolers still nap.
- 5-12 Years: 10-11 hours a day. Most school-age kids do not need to nap on a regular basis.
Does My Kid Need Naptime?
There are definite stages throughout early childhood where parents wonder if their child is ready to give up one of their daily naps or perhaps give up naptime altogether. While no one can give you a definite answer, there are some things to consider to help answer this question.
It is common for parents to underestimate how much sleep kids actually need. To avoid this and ensure your kids are getting enough rest, check for signs that your child isn’t sleeping enough each day.
Consider these factors:
- Your child acts tired or sleepy.
- Your child is fussy or cranky, especially in the afternoons.
- Your child does not want to get up in the morning and fights to stay in bed.
- Your child struggles to pay attention, be considerate or kind, or has a hard time being calm.
- Your child is unable to focus on school or other important tasks.
If several or all of these are true, you might need to adjust your child’s sleep schedule. Sometimes this means moving naptime forward or back in the day, sometimes it means adding a naptime back into the schedule, or sometimes it means giving your child an earlier bedtime.
Dos and Don’ts of Naptime
Do look for signs of tiredness in your children. Are they rubbing their eyes, or are their eyes heavy? Does your child appear clumsy or easily frustrated? Try to learn the signs your child is tired.
Do protect naptime. Sometimes, naptime has to happen on the go, but make it a priority when possible. Life and other kids might make this hard, but your home will be happier when everyone gets enough sleep.
Do follow a routine. Your baby will get a better sleep when their body is allowed to be on a schedule. Plus, it will make scheduling your day easier.
Do ensure your child is always sleeping in a safe place. If your baby passes out on the couch, move them to their crib. Try to keep all naps and bedtimes in the same place, as well.
Do condense naps as babies get older. If possible, kids six months and older should not be taking several 20-30 minute naps a day. Try to extend naptime by keeping your baby awake longer between naps.
As horrifying as it is to think about disturbing a sleeping baby, don’t let your baby sleep in their car seat. If they fall asleep on the way home, attempt to transfer them to a safe sleeping location. While a short nap in a car seat is ok, long periods sleeping in car seats is dangerous.
Don’t assume every baby is the same. Your babies will be different from each other and your friends’ babies in how much they sleep and when. Pay attention to what your baby needs and meet those needs rather than assuming they need what another baby does.
Don’t feed babies to sleep. Every tired, new mom knows small babies want to fall asleep nursing or with their bottle. Plus, it’s so tempting when you’re tired yourself.
However, it is best to let your baby have some awake time after eating. Even if you just change their diaper and change positions after their eating time, it will help babies learn to go to sleep better in the long run.
Don’t run to your baby at the first sound. It is ok for them to whimper some, cough, hiccup, or talk to themselves some. Try to let your baby calm themselves down for several minutes before rushing to their side.
Don’t forget to join Twin Cities Kids Club today!