Child development specialists agree that young children need naps. Keeping them on a regular napping schedule is essential to growth and development. Between 4 and 12 months, most babies will settle in to two naps a day, ranging from 20 minutes to three hours, typically twice a day.
Toddlers around two narrow this down to a single two-hour nap mid day and by three, some will forfeit their nap all together. All children will find their natural pattern. The key is consistency , which is where parents and day care workers come in.
Jodi Mindell, a child psychologist and author of Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep, says about 18 months, children will naturally give up their morning nap. She has some good recommendations to help create regular and solid napping:
- When possible, napping in the same place that a child sleeps ensures he gets the sleep he needs. In a daycare situation, the same place during the day and the same place at night offer the best alternative.
- Mid to late morning naps and early afternoon naps are best. Don’t let your child sleep past 4:00 pm or he’ll have a hard time going to sleep at night.
- At least three hours should elapse between the end of the afternoon nap and bedtime.
There are many opinions and resources concerning children’s sleep habits. If your child is having problems, there are solutions. You really need to read the varying methods and decide which one might be right for you and your child. If one does not work, try another until you find what does.
A fatigued child and as a result, fatigued parents, can be an unpleasant combination. Everyone needs sleep. You stand a better chance at success when you establish a routine, are in tune with your child’s changing habits, keep a consistent schedule, and are not afraid to look for help from experts. Reach out to friends with little ones who have successfully navigated this time frame for their best practices. Remember, this too shall pass!
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