Napping is an important component of a child’s healthy mental and physical growth. A daily nap refreshes a child so that she can maintain her energy, focus, and ability to learn for the rest of the day. Some studies even show that young children who nap every day are more flexible and adaptable, have longer attention spans and are less fussy than those who don’t nap.
How can you tell
if your child needs a nap?
How much naptime
does your child need?
Average hours of daytime and nighttime sleep
© Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution (McGraw-Hill)
When should your child nap?
§ If your child takes two naps: midmorning (around 9:00 to 11:00) and early afternoon (around 12:00 to 2:30)
§ If your child takes one nap: early afternoon (around 12:00 to 2:30); after lunch
How long should
a nap be?
If your child tends towards short naps, don’t give in and assume that it’s all the nap time that she needs. Try some of these tips for increasing the length of her naps:
Give your child lunch or a snack about a half hour before nap
Make certain the sleeping room is dark.
Play soothing music or white noise during the entire nap.
Make sure that your child is comfortable. He shouldn’t get too cold or too hot. His sleeping attire should be cozy.
Check to see if discomfort from teething, allergies, asthma, ear infection or other health-related issues are preventing your child from taking longer naps. If you suspect any of these a visit to your health care professional is in order.
Watch for signs of tiredness
§ losing interest in playtime
§ rubbing his eyes
§ looking glazed or unfocused
§ becoming whiny, cranky or fussy
§ losing patience with toys, activities or playmates
§ having tantrums
§ lying down or slumping in his seat
§ caressing a lovey or blanket
§ asking for a pacifier, bottle or to nurse
The nap routine
Once you have created a nap schedule that works with your child’s daily periods of tiredness, follow a simple but specific nap routine. Your child will be most comfortable if there is a predictable pattern to his day. He may come to predict when his naptime approaches and willingly cooperate with you.How nap routines change
Children’s sleep needs change over time, so remember that the routine that you set up today won’t be the same one you’re using a year from now. Be adaptable!
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing fromThe No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002
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Check out Elizabeth Pantley's other sleep articles available on MommyNature.com!
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