Young children need their sleep more than any other age group in order to revitalise and prepare for the day ahead. In early childhood, vital physical and mental development occurs so naps provide additional downtime for much needed growth and rejuvenation. Being overtired also directly influences your little ones mood, naps are a great way to prevent temper tantrums for instance. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of sleep a child really needs in order to stay happy and function normally.
From a parent’s viewpoint, short naps also give you the opportunity to have a brief break during the day to catch up with general jobs or simply a chance to relax. Grab the great opportunity for some peace and quiet!
How long is too long?
Toddlers need approximately 12-14 hours of sleep every single day, which often calls for a snooze in the afternoon to top up these hours. Ideally, 12 hours of this should be at night time but this varies slightly of course. Most children under the age of one tend to take approximately two naps daily, one being in the morning and then fit in another in the afternoon. Then by around the age of 18 months old most little ones only require just the one nap a day. However, this all depends on the individual, along with when they go to bed and how long they sleep during the night. How active they are throughout the day during playtime has an impact too. Every single child’s sleeping pattern is different, but in general youngsters find it harder to stay awake for long periods in comparison to adolescents or adults.
If the child is getting a solid amount of sleep at night, the naps throughout the day should approximately add up to a total of two- two and a half hours when the toddler is around 12 months old. Then one and a half to two hours once they reach 18 months and when they reach two years just one and a half hours only.
When is the right time?
As well as the duration, fitting the extra snooze into your child’s schedule at the right time is another important factor. Try to watch out for signs that signal your little one is getting sleepy in the afternoon, whether it be after lunchtime or mid-afternoon then build up a nap routine around this. Between 2pm and 4pm each day, naturally our body temperature decreases, which signals the production of melatonin making us feel drowsy as a result. Therefore, these two hours are the perfect time for napping, as your child will find it much easier to drop off to sleep and feel more refreshed once they wake back up. A successful nap!
One last thing to keep in mind to ensure your child is well rested during the day is to always avoid suggesting a sleep near to bedtime. This is likely to cause problems sleeping again late at night, so instead aim for at least five hours before.