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Constant development takes place in babies and toddlers. In fact, there is so much activity in their body, both physically and mentally, that sleep becomes an essential component to maintain the pace of growth. While newborns and young babies sleep for over sixteen hours a day, toddlers tend to sleep less. However, they still need considerably more sleep than older children or adults. They usually get this extra rest in the form of daytime naps. This article will help you understand all about naps, their importance, and what you can do to help your little one nap.
Why Are Naps Essential for Toddlers?
Sleep is essential for health, but it goes much further than that when it comes to toddlers. Some research has found that napping may help speed up your child’s cognitive development. Further, the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, have been shown to drop during naptime. Naps are also helpful when it comes to reducing exhaustion, which can occur due to toddlers’ energetic lifestyles.
How Many Naps Does a Toddler Need?
The amount of time a baby sleeps per day mainly depends on his age. Babies under a year old tend to sleep from fourteen to eighteen hours a day, both at night and during the day, with younger babies sleeping more. How long should a two-year-old nap? Toddlers, that is children who are between one and three years old, essentially require at least twelve to fourteen hours in a twenty-four-hour cycle. Of this, approximately nine to ten hours will be at night, whereas the remaining hours will be spent napping. How many naps should a one-year-old take? Young toddlers usually have two to three naps staggered throughout the day.
Should All Toddlers Nap?
Almost all toddlers nap during the day, but sleeping habits depend on the child. However, you should ensure that naptime does not interfere with night sleeping.
Where Should Toddlers Nap?
Ideally, toddlers should have a comfortable place to take their naps. This can be in a dimly-lit, cool room. Make sure you give them a blanket or their favourite toy to cuddle, so they feel relaxed and at ease.
Tips to Get Your Toddler to Nap
Here are a few useful tips you can use to get your little ones to take a nap:
1. Use The Cues From Your Toddler
Children are very clear in expressing their moods and emotions. Simply pay attention to the cues they will provide you which indicate that they need to nap. While some toddlers sit in one place listlessly, others can become cranky and cry if they want to sleep.
2. Don’t Allow Them To Nap On The Move
It might seem easy and convenient to let them fall asleep anywhere, but this can be dangerous, especially if two-year-old’s nap in their prams or car seats. This is because these seats are not designed for children to sleep comfortably.
3. Don’t Force A Nap Schedule
There is no need to keep a tight napping schedule for your toddler. This especially applies to parents who prefer strict timings in their own lives. Children work at their own pace, and it is you who has to learn to be flexible.
4. Don’t Make Them Stop Morning Naps
Children between twelve and eighteen months of age tend to stop sleeping in the morning. However, please let this process happen organically; otherwise, it can seriously interfere with their normal sleep routines.
5. Don’t Wean Them Off Naps Too Early
As mentioned, naps are crucial for little children. While toddlers grow out of naps by themselves, please ensure you don’t force them to stop napping before they are ready.
6. Understand How Much Sleep Works For Your Child
Babies and toddlers require a lot of sleep to counteract the energy drain that is caused by their developing bodies. However, they begin to sleep less and less as they grow older. It is important you pay attention to any mood changes which can imply sleep deprivation in your child.
7. Establish A Routine
Maintain the same schedule for both nighttime sleep and napping. For instance, if putting your toddler to bed involves reading to them, gently caressing them, or rocking them to sleep to calm them down, please do this before napping as well.
8. Allow Naps To Happen Naturally
We have biological clocks that maintain our sleep-wake cycles. Similarly, children are biologically programmed to rest more when they are smaller, and then reduce these rest periods over time. While newborns just sleep and feed, three-year-olds nap occasionally, but tend to choose their own time of the day.
9. Limit Your Toddler’s Naps Time
Naps should ideally last around one hour to ninety minutes, and should not exceed two hours under any circumstances. If this happens, you might end up with a cranky toddler on your hands.
10. Don’t Prevent Naps So You Can Put Them To Bed Early
Please make sure that your one-year-old’s nap schedule is consistent. If you want to put him to bed earlier than usual, do not under any circumstances reduce or prevent them from napping during the day. While this might make them fall asleep earlier, it can also mess up their sleep routines, making them cranky and restless.
What Precautions Should be Taken?
Establishing sleep/nap routine for your child is not complicated. Nevertheless, here are a few precautions to take:
- Avoid naps later in the day, as daytime sleep is linked to the amount of sunlight at any given time. Evening naps can also alter his sleeping routine.
- If your toddler goes to a nursery or daycare, please discuss his napping schedules and routines with the caretakers.
- If your toddler is afraid of the dark, don’t try to fight this fear as it has a deep evolutionary root. Instead, help him calm down by leaving a night light on in his room.
As your toddler grows older, it might be time to move him from his crib to a bed. The usual age for this transition is between two and three, but others are shifted to beds earlier because they tend to climb out of the crib. Any naptime routines will have to be readjusted from sleeping in a crib to sleeping in a bed.
Also Read: How to Overcome Sleep Regression in Babies