Studies have found that children who nap in line with their sleep needs have longer attention spans and are less fussy than children who nap poorly. Children who have adequate rest in the day also tend to sleep better at night. Naps are one of the most difficult areas of sleep to get right but getting naps right makes such a difference to a child’s behaviour, mood and their ability to sleep well and more peacefully during the evening. There are many ways to help improve a child’s day sleep, timing and getting the number of naps right is the first step to improvement.
I always tell families to view their child’s behaviour as a message. Children who developmentally still need day sleep are not going to be as easy going and happy when they don’t get the sleep that they need. I have worked with families that have had a particularly challenging time with the “terrible twos”. However, as part of my evaluation I have found that the root cause isn’t the child’s age. The cause of the difficult behaviour is due to the child’s lack of sleep and dropping the daytime nap too soon. Upon working naps back into the child’s schedule the parents have noticed a big and positive change in the child’s mood, subsequent actions and overall sleep.
Remember that the need for day sleep comes down to a child’s biological need for naps and how long they are capable of staying awake for between one sleep to the next. As children get older they are capable of staying awake for longer periods of time and their day sleep will become less. Always judge your child’s sleep needs by observing their behaviours throughout the day. If you are dealing with constant crankiness and difficult behaviours it’s possible your child has dropped a nap too soon.
As a guide, below are the common ages for nap transitions (give or take depending on your child’s unique sleep needs).
· 3 naps to 2 naps (approximately 9 months)
· 2 naps to 1 nap (approximately 15 - 18 months)
· 1 nap to no naps (approximately 3.5 - 4 years)
Please note every child is different and the number of naps required is also dependent on how well rested your child is, whether they take adequate naps and how well they sleep at night.
If you are having difficulty with naps, wondering how many naps your child needs or whether they need a nap at all, please arrange a time to speak with me and I can help you.
Katie The Hush Co.