toddler nap

How Long Should A Toddler Nap?

Napping is an integral part of your toddler’s day as well as yours. Your child needs to recharge and reboot, or everyone will suffer the consequences. And you count on nap time to get the things done you need to do. 

But why are naps so critical to youngsters, and when do they outgrow the need? How can you make sure naps don’t interfere with your tot getting a good night’s sleep? The answers in the following guide will help you improve not only your toddler’s nap routine but also, dare we say it, your family’s overall sense of happiness.

The first few years of your child’s life are so exciting. Your little one seems to be getting bigger every day. 

But there are certainly some growing pains for parenting toddlers. For example, sleep is essential for children’s growth, but many parents struggle to help their toddlers stay well-rested.

The key to keeping your toddler rested is a consistent napping and nighttime sleep schedule. Naps provide your child with necessary daytime rest to recharge. Then, they can be active and enjoy the remainder of the day. 

Plus, naptime gives parents a chance to relax. With daily nap and bedtime routines in place, you can ensure your toddler gets enough sleep.

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Why Does My Toddler Need to Nap?

Your toddler needs a total of 11 to 14 hours of sleep every day, and few children can sleep that much during the night, which is why daytime sleep — in the form of naps — is a must for the toddler set. 

Tots who don’t nap during the day are crankier, more prone to frustration, have more tantrums and have less appetite. They also have less energy — and toddlers need plenty of power to fuel their always-on-the-go lifestyle.   

Spacing Out Naps

  • Up to 3 months: there should be 1 to 2 hours between naps.
  • 3 to 6 months: there should be 2 to 2.5 hours between naps
  • 6 to 9 months: there should be 2.5 to 3 hours between naps
  • One year or over: 1 nap a day
  • Three years or over: phase out naps

Babies over nine months of age should not sleep after 3.30 pm the day. This is because it will cause difficulties with bedtime and may also cause early morning waking.

Older children should not have naps in the late afternoon. This is because it may also make it hard for them to go to sleep at bedtime.

Help Your Baby or Toddler Nap

Your child will find it easier to nap during the day if you:

  • have a consistent daily routine so that your baby or toddler knows when it is time to nap
  • Do not let your child play or relax in bed. Your child’s bed should be for sleeping only.
  • keep their room dark during nap time
  • take off your baby or toddler’s shoes and outer clothes, so they do not become too warm
  • Would you please give them a special blanket or toy as a comforter?
  • read them a story in a calming voice
  • It is better to let your child wake up on their own, as they will be in a better mood.

How Many Naps a Day Does My Toddler Need?

The number of naps needed depends on your child’s age and individual needs. Before they reach a year, babies generally take between one and four naps each day.

At one year old, a morning nap and afternoon nap are every days. After that, your child will transition to needing less sleep. You can shorten the naps incrementally and make bedtime earlier. By eighteen months, most children will nap only once per day, usually in the early afternoon. The rest shouldn’t be too close to bedtime.

How Long Should My Toddler Nap?

How long your toddler should nap depends on their age and needs. However, consistency is essential. Too long of a nap can mean your child stays up later at night because they’re not tired.

When planning out naps for your child, it’s essential to know how much daily sleep they should be receiving. The National Sleep Foundation has developed a helpful guideline:

Naps for babies under a year can range from 30 minutes to 2 hours to give them the total amount of sleep they need.

As toddlers grow, they don’t need to nap for as long as they did in their baby years. Consider how long your child sleeps at night to determine the optimal length of their nap or naps. For example, if your two-year-old sleep ten hours at night, rest for an hour or two during the day will help them achieve the recommended amount of sleep.

Keep in mind that every child is different. For example, one-year-old sleep schedules often include a nap at least an hour and a half long. On the other hand, two-year-olds take down that last between 1 and 4 hours.

It is worth noting that children at daycare who nap for 60 minutes or less tend to sleep well at night. Conversely, naps lasting more than an hour can lead to your child sleeping less at night.

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How Can I Tell If My Toddler Is Well-Rested?

A well-rested child is alert and able to do their daily routines and activities. If your child is fussy or irritable, they may not be getting enough sleep. Also, watch for signs of sleepiness during the day. For example, does your child rub his eyes often? Is she yawning excessively, even after a night of sleep or nap time? If so, you may need to make bedtime earlier to ensure they get enough sleep at night.

How Can I Help My Toddler Nap?

Toddler naptime and bedtime routines should be similar. Both types of sleep should happen in the bedroom so that your child associates their room with sleep. As with bedtime, the bedroom at naptime should be dark, calm, and quiet. You may sing or read with them to help encourage sleep.

What If My Toddler Doesn’t Want to Nap?

There are many ways to approach a child who doesn’t want to nap. Perhaps your child isn’t feeling tired today. Maybe she’s even transitioning out of her napping days. However, daily quiet and rest time is still helpful for your child. Allow your child to choose if they’d like to nap or play quietly for the duration of nap time. Reading, colouring, or doing puzzles are all excellent quiet time activities. These should take place in the bedroom, away from distractions in other parts of the home.

When Can My Toddler Stop Napping?

Most children still need naps at three years old. However, as they get older, they’re less likely to need it. By age 5, most children no longer need a nap.

Your child may no longer need a nap if they:

  • Struggle to fall asleep at naptime
  • Struggle to fall asleep at night on days they’ve taken a nap.
  • Wake up early in the morning feeling fully rested
  • Play quietly during nap time, often.
  • Show no signs of sleepiness until bedtime.

What Reasons Does My Toddler Have for Resisting Nap Time?

It’s just as usual for your toddler to resist naps as it is for her to fight bedtime, and for many of the same reasons:

  • They are being overtired. When they’re exhausted (maybe because they’re not getting enough sleep in general), toddlers get a surge of cranky energy — and they’ll use a lot of that energy to fight sleep.
  • Afraid of missing out. Toddlers believe naps are boring. They’ve got climbing, running and exploring to do, and sleeping puts the kibosh on the action.
  • Separation anxiety. Some toddlers experience the same separation anxiety and fears when put down for a daytime slumber as they have at night.
  • Internal clock. It’s sometimes hard for toddlers to drift off during naptime because their bodies have become attuned to being awake when it’s light and asleep when it’s dark.

What’s the Best Way to Get My Toddler Down for a Nap Even If She Resists?

First, you’ll want to put your tot down when she’s tired (but not overtired). Second, please note when your toddler is already slowing down, such as after lunch, and try to get her tucked in for a nap then. If she never seems to get visibly tired, odds are she’ll be ready for a good rest three or four hours after her last sleep.

Keep in mind that if your child is done with naps, they will likely need more sleep at night to get enough sleep.

With patience and flexibility, you can help your child develop a good sleep routine. Then you can rest easy knowing your child is well-rested, too.

Understand Your Child’s Changing Sleep Needs

Napping conserves energy. When going through a growth spurt, an infant or toddler will sleep more and eat more because of tremendous energy demand.

To grow, we need adequate calories and ample sleep. And that is why babies sleep more than we do. As toddlers get older, they will eat and sleep less. Some of this sleeping is done with naps, while some take the form of nighttime sleep. Exactly how it’s divided depends mainly on the child’s age and developmental stage, he says.

Newborns sleep between feedings all day and all night long. They start developing a day/night variation at around three months, and their long sleep will hopefully be at night. However, this typically doesn’t happen much earlier because newborns need to eat every few hours and can’t get the stretch they need at night.

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Let Naps Play Out Naturally

Infants sleep 16 to 20 hours per day. But, as time goes on, they outgrow sleeping the entire day and only take two naps — one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

According to pediatrician Greg Yapalater, naps tend to work themselves out. Nap patterns are usually established when the child is an infant and often revolve around feeding schedules. This helps shape the program in the future. 

You are probably feeding every three hours, which is four bottles a day. So things start falling into place, and then what you are going to do about naps becomes very straightforward.” For example, some parents may choose an hour after the first bottle for the morning nap and an hour after the midday bottle for the afternoon nap.

If your child goes to daycare, shoot for the same schedule that the facility imposes regarding naps.

Know When It’s Nap Time

Would you please tune in to your kids’ signs that they are ready to nap? Some kids sit there and stare. Some get fussy, and some kids cry when they are prepared to sleep.

They may start blinking their eyes, yawning, getting cranky, rubbing their eyes, or zoning out when they need a nap; this can happen quite quickly.

Please do not ignore these cues; you and your child will be much happier when they are put down for their nap at this time.

Create an Ideal Napping Environment

Try to put your child in the same environment for each nap. Don’t example, don’t let your child rest in the crib one day, a day bed the next, and in your bed the day after that. Why? You want the napping environment to be as consistent as possible so your child will associate it with going to sleep.

You can’t force anyone to take a nap, but you can create an environment for sleep. For example, tell your child, ‘You can sleep, be awake, or sing, but you have to stay put.

Don’t make an appearance as you would at night because there are more distractions during the day. So it doesn’t take much for them to say. There is too much going on here for me to nap.

Don’t Let Your Toddler Nap in the Stroller.

This may be convenient, especially if your sleepy tot doesn’t transfer well. But it can be dangerous. Do not let your children nap in strollers, bouncy seats, or car seats that are parked on the floor because these places are not made for sleeping unless they are constantly monitored. In addition, accidental strangulation, suffocation, or entanglement can occur due to all the buckles and straps.

Let the Morning Nap Drop Out Naturally

The morning nap drops out by 12 to 18 months for most children because they need less sleep. Let this happen on its own. Your child will stick to an afternoon nap until they are anywhere from 2 1/2 to 4 years old. Some 3- or 4-year-olds still take an afternoon nap, but 6-year-olds don’t nap.

Be Careful of Dropping a Nap Too Soon

There is not a hard-and-fast rule about outgrowing naps. You may start to see signs that the child wakes up earlier from a nap, or they may not show any signs that they need one.

Nap refusal for an 18-month-old is not a sign that they are outgrowing the need to nap as it might be for a three-year-old. If a child doesn’t want to take a nap, they may just be overtired.

If it’s a day or two of protesting, don’t subtract the nap too fast. But if nap protesting goes on for a couple of weeks, then it may be time to give it up.

Don’t Sweat Nap Time.

Some parents are uptight about their toddlers’ napping schedule. They get carried away, and the whole day is centred around the napping schedule. If getting your toddler down for a nap is interfering with your life, it’s a problem. You have to be flexible. You can always slip in a shorter nap or a later nap.

Nap schedules are more about parents. There aren’t rigid guidelines about when and how long a child should nap. Most tables are pure approximations.

Keep Naps Short and Sweet

If a nap is more than one hour and 45 minutes, your kids may wake up cranky. So ninety minutes is just right.

Don’t Trade in a Nap for an Earlier Bedtime.

This may sound like a good plan, but it doesn’t work and may even backfire. If you keep them up to make them more tired, they will be too restless and unsettled to use the everyday self-soothing routines that put them to sleep at night. 

A better plan is to tweak the nap or nap schedule by shaving off 15 minutes or starting the rest earlier in the day. 

After naps are not always the best call because your child needs to get a certain amount of daylight, and napping until it’s dark may prevent this from occurring.

Use the Same Routine for Napping as Nighttime Sleep

If you have a good nighttime sleep routine, such as doing something calming or reading a book to your child before bed, you can repeat this ritual for nap time to increase the likelihood of a successful napper. 

If at night, you hold and rock your child until they fall asleep and at nap time, you put them in their room and suggest a nap, it’s probably not going to happen. Sleep time should be consistent.

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