Helping a baby sleep during the night is hard enough. But getting a child to nap soundly and consistently can be absolutely maddening. But much of the frustration has little to do with the child themselves and more to do with the wealth of misinformation parents are exposed to.
The harsh truth about naps is that they are different for every child. So what might have worked for one relative, blogger or expert might not work for others. It’s better to look at naptime as a holistic part of a daily sleep that works in concert with nighttime sleep. To think of naps as a separate entity to bedtime is a fallacy that can make everyone lose sleep.
Children’s Naps Are Necessary Until 4 Years Old
Naps, thanks to their duration and the fact that they happen during the daytime hours, often feel a bit more trivial than nighttime sleep. However, naps are just as crucial for development as sleep at night. In fact, naps and nighttime sleep are intricately linked. Kids who have consistent naps get to sleep easier at night and have fewer wake-ups. They also learn better during the day and get into fewer accidents.
On the other hand, kids who aren’t getting enough naps are likely sleep-deprived. That’s because the amount of sleep children need is calculated as the total amount of sleep in a 24 hour period. By preschool, the amount of sleep a child needs is still upwards of 13 hours. Failure to get 13 hours of sleep between nighttime sleep and naps can increase the risk of childhood obesity, harm emotional coping skills and increase the likelihood of hyperactive behaviors.
Skipping Naps Doesn’t Make it Easier to Sleep at Night
Parents who are struggling to help a child sleep at night may try to cut out a nap to make a child more tired. The logic makes sense from an adult perspective — the less sleep we have, the more tired we get. But the reality for children is that the more exhausted a kid gets, the harder it is for them to sleep at night.
In fact, an over-tired child is more likely to get cranky and hyperactive. They’ll fight sleep to stay awake, which is the exact opposite of what parents are looking for. The takeaway is that maintaining a nap schedule is incredibly important.
Every Baby Naps Differently
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