Children And Napping
Children And Napping
Gary Feldman (Medical Director, Stramski Disorders Center, Miller Children's Hospital ) gives expert video advice on: Should I ever wake my child from a nap?; What do I do if my child resists napping?; Should I stop my child from napping to help him sleep more at night? and more...
What is "napping"?
So, napping really is an extension of the total sleep time that we need in 24 hours. So younger babies may sleep for, if they, say up to two weeks of age, 16 hours in 24 hours, but they will wake up multiple times for feeds. As you get older the time you get to sleep at night is longer. So, by six months, you should be able to sleep through the night. But you may still need, at six months, you need about, say 14 or 15 hours of sleep. So you can't sleep at, I mean, a night is not long enough for 15 hours because the light comes, you know, it's daytime. So, well, babies will wake up. But they still have a deficit. So they will nap to make up the deficit of what they need in 24 hours. So, in a sense, napping is really just an extension of the amount of sleep that you need for your age. And napping can be, usually, in the daytime naps will not be very long. They may be, again, the younger you are, the naps, they will be longer. But as you get older, the naps get shorter and shorter but they may be multiple. You know, in a younger baby, you may still need two naps a day, or even three naps, and as they get older, two naps, and then when you become a toddler, you may get by with one nap. Again, you got to understand that it's how much sleep does a child need in 24 hours? And then it's the naps plus what they've slept at night that makes up that total.
At what time should my child take naps?
I think the specific times your child should take naps are really dependent on the child. Again, focus on how much sleep in 24 hours your child needs, and then you've got to customise it, and you've got to get the cue from the child. Again, it depends on what happens in the night. For instance, if a child is not having good quality sleep at night and is waking up multiple times, for whatever those reasons are, they may have a section of good quality sleep in the early hours of the morning, then they may have to wake up because they have to go to day-care, or whatever the case is, and they may show signs of needing a nap very early. They may need a nap at 8:30, or 9:00 o'clock in the morning. Children that have better quality sleep at night, again depending on their age, may have a longer window of wakefulness in the morning, and may only need to nap at 11:00 o'clock, say. So, it's very difficult to say there's a set time that a child needs to nap. It really depends on the child. It depends on what's been happening in the night-time sleep. It's what happens in terms of the temperament, what happens in terms of the logistics of the day, and where they are. Some kids nap in the car, because that's the time they're restrained and they can't run around, and that's when they catch up. So, what I would advice parents to do is to look for the signs in the child. Usually when kids need a nap, they get cranky; they rub their eyes, they get fussy, and that's usually when it's time to put them down.
Where is the best place for my child to nap while at home?
The best place for your child to nap is really where they spent the night sleeping. So, if they are sleeping in their crib then that would be the place to nap because it comes down to routine. If the child is used to sleeping in their crib or sleeping in their parents bed, then that's really where they should be kept for naps too.
How long should my child nap per day?
How long does your child need to nap for? Generally speaking, the child will determine that. One has to be careful about it in the afternoon. If they're napping in the afternoon, be careful they don't nap too late because then it's going to affect when they're naturally going to become tired again for night-time. So, if the child naps for 2 hours from 4pm and they're waking up at 6pm, there's no way they're going to get ready to go to sleep at 7:30 or 8:00. They may be only be ready at 1:00 or 1:30. Therefore one has got to adjust it, and a child can be scheduled to a certain degree. You can give or take an hour or so to fit in with the family's lifestyle. If your child wants to nap at 4pm but you don't want them to sleep then, you can try to bring their nap an hour earlier and see how it goes. You can modify it because ultimately it all works itself out; if a child naps a little early in the afternoon, they're going to go to bed at night earlier and they're going to wake up earlier in the morning.
Should I schedule my child's naps?
You know, the length of time that a child should nap each day is variable and personally I think you should take the cues from the child. As long as you are ensuring the child is getting the correct amount of sleep in 24 hours you can really adapt to the child. I don't believe there are any fixed rules. If the child needs to nap 3 or 4 times a day and the naps are 30 minutes each and it works for you and works for the child, that's fine. If the child needs a long nap, 3 hours a day, even four hours or whatever, it will technically difficult since they will have to wake up to eat so that's more theoretical. But the point is you've got to customize according to the child and according to what works for the family. The key is to remain non-chaotic and if you can organize your life in the home and the child's life accordingly it results in a good quality of life not only for the child but for the care-givers as well.
Should I ever wake my child from a nap?
It's a good idea not to wake your child up from a nap unless there are pressing circumstances. For instance, if a child is napping in the afternoon and you see that it's a long nap and it's getting too late, then you know it's going to result in problems for bedtime at night. So then you would want to wake the child up, because it's just going to be difficult later on. Obviously, waking a child up because you need to go somewhere, then that's also fine. Life has certain needs, and sometimes you just can't nap forever. But generally as a rule, you should be able to leave your child to nap and wake up when they're ready to wake up.
What is the latest time in the day my child should nap?
The latest time that I think a child should nap depends on what your intended bedtime is. If you're planning to put your baby to bed say at, say 7:30, 8:00, 8:30, it's really not a good idea to get them to nap longer than say 4:30. So, as a rule, probably putting a child to nap at 4:00 PM is going to be too latefor most circumstances and lifestyles.
When will my child transition to fewer naps?
A child should transition to fewer naps depending on what their need is for sleep. If they're getting a lot of sleep at night, they may only get by with one nap in the day, and it may even be a very short nap. Again, it's case-by-case; each child is an individual, and I really want to stress that: each child is an individual. One's got to be careful about enforcing rules on a child; one has to really look at guidelines. It's useful to know how much sleep a child needs in 24 hours; that will give you the guideline as to whether they really need the nap, and you can make a decision from there.
Should my child switch to one nap when he goes to daycare?
If your child is in daycare for part of the week and at home the rest; the napping schedule will be different. It probably would be better and easier to actually intergrate the daycare routine into your home routine. Because in the daycare, all the children are going to sleep and so the child is modeling other children's behavior and sees that this is the routine. It might be easier to use the interia of that situation, specifically if your child spends more days in the daycare than at home to just adopt the daycare routine. Because it will make the return to transitioning easier when they go to daycare because daycare is less flexible than at home.
Should I stop my child from napping to help him sleep more at night?
If your child is waking up too early in the morning and they are napping during the day and you want them to sleep longer at night, then it might be beneficial to stop them from napping in the day if they can tolerate it. The key is: what can the child tolerate? At the very least you can shorten the nap, so that they will have a longer sleep time during the night.
At what age should my child stop napping?
Generally children will not need to nap from about four years of age onward. Again, it's not a fixed rule. Four years of age is not the time for "You've now graduated! You're now four years old, this is now your fourth birthday, no more naps! You don't have to nap anymore." They may still need to nap; again it's an individual, case-by-case basis. But between four to six years of age, kids will begin to slowly let go of needing to nap. It's important for parents to know that, because some parents think "My child still needs to nap" but as long as they're getting enough sleep in a twenty-four hour time slot, napping is not necessary.