When Do Children Outgrow Napping?

Is your toddler or preschooler refusing to take a nap? It’s probably a sign that your little one no longer needs the extra sleep.

Most toddlers and many preschool children have at least one nap a day, down from the two or more they have as infants. But there’s always the exception to the norm, with some kids needing more or less daytime sleep than others. Is there a standard amount of naptime a child needs?

Pediatrician Dr. Mickey Lester believes that each child’s sleep requirement is as different as the child himself. “The idea that infants must have a nap in the morning and another in the afternoon is simply a myth. Some of my patients will have several naps a day, whereas others will have none; these are kids ranging from just a couple of weeks to four years old. Neither is a cause for concern. The baby or toddler will pick the amount of sleep he or she wants. If a child or toddler misses a nap, they’ll have numerous opportunities during the day to make it up with short naps. If your child does miss a nap and is grouchy all evening, he’ll make it up the next day.”

Of course sooner or later all children give up naptime. Dr. Lester says it will be apparent when that time has come. “He’ll tell you when he is growing out of naptime because he will tell you he doesn’t want to sleep. He’ll say “no” or he will play longer, or won’t go to sleep, or will be more reluctant to go into the crib at certain periods of time. Also the naptime will shorten in length.”

When your child does grow out of naptime you may want to consider replacing it with a little quiet time, a period of 30 or so minutes when your child is left in her room to quietly look at a picture book, cuddle her blanket or teddy, or color. Quiet time gives children a chance to relax, unwind and collect their thoughts before resuming their busy lives.

Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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