Napping is important for a toddler’s development. How much napping they need is dependent on their age and development level – an 18-month old has different sleep needs than a 12-month old, but they need sleep nevertheless.
Naps aren’t just for replenishing energy. Growth hormones and brain expansion happen mostly when we sleep, and your child is doing a lot of both. Plus, as your child’s mobility increases, their energy demands increase.
Here are some tips to help you handle your child’s changing nap needs.
1. Let the naps handle themselves – As your child gets older, they’ll get the majority of their sleep at night and use naps for “quick fixes.” That means their nap needs will change day-by-day. An especially active day might require more sleep, while a rainy day watching movies only needs a quick 30-minute cat nap. Let your child sleep as they need it. If they’re tired, off to bed. If they wake naturally after a short while and seem rested, don’t force more sleep.
2. The cues never change – Just like your infant yawned, blinked a lot, rubbed their eyes and got cranky, so will a toddler. And just like an infant, they can become overtired if you wait too long. Once you notice these symptoms, off to bed. It will be easier for your child to fall asleep and stay asleep if you put them in bed during the right window.
3. The morning nap usually goes first – A 9 to 15 month old usually takes two naps per day, a morning nap and an afternoon nap. It’s typically the morning nap that goes first since they’re coming off a full night of sleep. You might also notice the afternoon nap creep toward the middle of the day (if it was once at 3 PM, it might slide toward 1:30 PM or 1 PM).
4. The naps don’t have to go – There’s no age when your child has to be done napping, so don’t be concerned if your 4-year old wants to take a nap. Let him. By school-age, however, your child should be able to go the entire day without napping, but don’t keep him up during the day on the weekends just because.
5. Nap-refusal isn’t a sign that naps are over – Just because your child is refusing to sleep doesn’t mean the napping age is over. Children often go through periods of refusal during developmental changes. When your child learns to walk, she’ll often defiantly stand in the crib, but she’s still tired. Even 2-year olds go through phases where they reject naps, even though they need them.
6. You have some leeway – While getting the nap in is still important, one of the best parts about toddlers is that they are more resilient than babies. If your nap is 30 minutes later than usual, there’s usually no harm.
7. An earlier bedtime is not a substitute – Even though your child can make it the whole day, they won’t be pleasant. You might think, “Her bedtime is at 8, but if she can make it to 6:30, I can put her to bed early and she’ll get plenty of sleep.” That doesn’t work. She’ll be too restless and overtired to soothe themselves to sleep. Plus, she’ll just be up earlier in the morning (and no one wants that).
Also read: 6 Tips to Get Your Preschoolers to Nap
Written by Stephanie Parker from Sleepingbaby.com, inventors of the Zipadee-Zip
The motto for Sleeping Baby, makers of the Zipadee-Zip, is: "Inspiring Dreams One Night at A time," and that, in a nutshell, is how it all started…with one little dream that has since become the Parker family's reality. When Brett and Stephanie Parker's daughter, Charlotte, was born, the feeling that welled up inside of them was indescribable; they never realized until first looking into those baby blues of hers that they were even capable of that kind of love.
When it was time to transition baby from swaddling, the Parkers tried every sleep sack on the market and everyswaddle weaning trick they could find for nearly two weeks and nothing worked to get baby Charlotte to fall and stay asleep.
Stephanie became determined to restore sleep and sanity to their household and set out to find a solution that would soothe Charlotte's startle reflex and provide her the cozy womb-like environment she loved so much but still give her the freedom to roll over and wiggle around in her crib safely. Out of sheer desperation and exhaustion, the Zipadee-Zip was born. The first Zipadee-Zip(R) Stephanie put together on her little sewing machine worked like magic!
To date tens of thousands of Zipadee-Zips have been sold and all from word-of-mouth marketing. It is so rewarding for the Parkers to see other parents and babies getting the sleep they both need and deserve!
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