Naps. Do you love them or hate them?
We all love the break when our little ones nap, but sometimes getting them to nap is so much work it doesn’t seem worth it. However, your baby or toddler really do need those naps. When naps are skipped, this leads to an overtired child, who then can’t fall asleep. Parents often tell me that their child “just doesn’t need to nap” or “they never seem tired”. In my experience, this is a sign of over-tiredness.
As adults, when we are tired, we usually start to slow down, we want to sit down and relax and we show sings of being tired such as yawning and stretching. Some babies or toddlers do this as well, but many go the opposite way. If it’s naptime and your toddler is hyper, silly or seems energized, this usually means that their “sleep window” has passed and they have moved into overtiredness. Once this happens, it can be impossible to get a child to nap.
Many clients will even tell me that they put their child in the car or stroller and try for over an hour with no luck. This is why naps are so important. Without them, many children get to the point where they are so tired they can’t sleep. Not only can this lead to poor behavior, but it also makes nighttime sleep even harder. If you put your child to bed and they can’t fall asleep in about 10 minutes, they are likely overtired. Here is a list of appropriate levels of awake time and how many naps per day your baby or toddler should have:
0-3 Months – approximately 4-5 naps a day, awake time of about 45 minutes
3-6 Months – 3 naps/day, awake time of 1-2 hours
6-14 months – 2 naps/day, awake time of about 3 hours
15 months-3 years – 1 nap/day beginning around 12:30
The above information is a guideline and your little one may not fit exactly into these categories. However, if their nap schedule is way off from these guidelines, you may want to start adjusting the schedule. The rule of thumb is that sleep begets sleep.
Skipping naps or stretching your little one’s awake time in the interest of getting them to sleep later in the morning or be “tired enough” to fall asleep at bedtime, generally will not work. Most babies and toddlers will go to sleep easier and faster when they are well rested. As well, they will sleep more soundly throughout the night. A child that goes to bed overtired is more likely to wake several times throughout the night.
So, if you’d like an easier bedtime and more nighttime sleep, make sure to get your little one napping well throughout the day. The other bonus is all the time you’ll have during the day to get things done, take a break or have a nap! Happy napping.
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