Napping is an important part of your preschooler's day, maybe more important than you even imagine.
A preschool-aged child that has a regularly scheduled nap is typically a happier, more contented child. In fact, ample calories and adequate sleep are critical to a toddler’s growth and development.
Here are some keys to help you with naptime.
1. Recognize the signs of tiredness
- zoning out
- rubbing or blinking their eyes
- winding up
2. Make it part of the daily routine.
If your child is in a preschool, find out when the children nap and as much as possible try to maintain that same schedule at home on weekends and other days (at Bible Baptist Preschool they nap from 1–3 pm).
Eliminating a preschooler's nap to get her to bed earlier usually backfires. Your child may be overtired and too restless to settle down for the night.
Instead, put her down a little earlier or shave a little time off the end of the nap. Just like yourself, keeping a regular routine works best!
- A study by University of Colorado in 2012 showed that even missing a single nap causes a child to be more anxious, less joyful, and exhibit less interest and ability in solving problems..
- Naps boost cognitive performance by allowing a child to process and store memories that are foundational to learning.
3. Create a good sleep environment.
Whether it is naptime or bedtime, keep the sleep environment consistent. This is signal to your child that it is time to sleep. As much as possible, avoid letting her nap in other places. Use the same routine for both sleep times. If you read a book before putting her to bed at night, then read a book before naptime, etc.
4. Limit naptime.
Toddlers need between 12 and 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Every child is different, but the younger your child, the longer she will nap. A typical nap will be 1-3 hours. If your child is ill or in a growth spurt, she may nap longer. You will find that as your child grows, the time will decrease.
Naps should not take place too close to bedtime. If your child is fighting a nap for a few days, she may just be overtired. If this struggle continues for several weeks, it may be time to give up the nap.
Images from unsplash.com.