Few things beat the bliss followed by putting your child down for an afternoon nap. But when do kids stop napping, and what does a healthy sleep schedule look like for your toddler once they’ve moved past this stage of their childhood?
Naptime allows your child to recharge their batteries and is an opportunity for you to get some valuable rest time also. When you’re wondering if an afternoon nap is a good idea, think about factors such as time and how much sleep your child usually gets a night. If your child is showing early signs of taking shorter afternoon naps or feeling less energetic, it’s important to understand this is a completely natural change.
While nap time shouldn’t and doesn’t generally come with a lot of rules, every child is different, and so your child is likely to have a totally different energy level and activity range compared to someone else. So how do you keep your child’s sleep habits healthy? From finding the best mattress for kids to teaching them the value of a healthy sleep hygiene routine, there are a ton of ways you can ensure you’re doing just this.
When Do Kids Stop Napping?
According to one estimate by the National Sleep Foundation, or the NSF, only about 50% of children still nap by the age of four, and only 30% by the age of five. Most toddlers average about twelve hours of sleep each day, and if your toddler doesn’t take afternoon naps often, then it’s likely they’re catching up on this sleep every night.
As your little one grows up, they’re going to naturally need less sleep when they grow up. The recommended amount of time for sleep for infants aged four to twelve months is twelve to sixteen hours each day. For toddlers, this comes down to eleven to fourteen hours of rest every night, and preschoolers will come round to ten to thirteen hours. Finally, when they reach school age, your child is likely to only need nine to twelve hours every night.
How do you know it’s time to hang up the hat for afternoon naps for your kid? There are a few tell-tale signs that your child might be ready to give up their nap time before they should:
- Behavioral issues that stem from lack of sleep: One of the easiest ways to tell whether or not your child’s lack of interest in afternoon nap time or not is to try and see whether their mood fluctuates without naps. If your child is experiencing severe amounts of disruptions and mood irregularity, chances are they still need a nap to keep them calm.
- Your child is always nodding off: If your child is showing consistent signs of sleepiness, then they could still benefit from an afternoon nap during the middle of the day. That being said, it’s also possible your child might be adjusting to a new sleep schedule, so try to let them adjust as much as possible.
How Do You Wean A Child Off Napping
Many children wean themselves off afternoon napping naturally, but if you want to start correcting your child’s sleep schedule sooner, there are a few key places you should start:
- Find the best mattress for kids: When you’re shopping for a bed that belongs in your child’s room, one of the most important things you need to look out for is comfort. The best mattress for kids strikes that fine balance between comfort and support through the night, making it easier to get a great night’s sleep.
The best mattress for kids should also last you all through your child’s developing years, so be sure to factor in things like space and size when you’re making your purchase. So how do you know when you’ve found the best mattress for kids who are picky sleepers? Most companies will ensure that you get a trial period along with your purchase, so there’s nothing like checking to see if your child’s sleep actually improves to determine what the best mattress for kids might be.
- Use distracting afternoon activities: If you can tell your child’s drowsiness is peaking around their typical naptime, but you want to keep them occupied on something else, using afternoon activities that ensure they’re engaged can be a great help. Bust out the coloring books, activity boards, or take them out of the house for a better way to get your child to sleep.
- Have rest periods where your child can still relax: Even if it isn’t a full-blown nap-time, your child can benefit from having rest periods during the day. ‘Quiet times’ allows your child to practice a little mindfulness throughout the day, without needing to go to sleep.
- Encourage healthy sleep hygiene: When you’re trying to wean your child off nap-time, it’s important you try to ensure the sleep they do get is deep. Uninterrupted, and of high quality. There are a couple of core habits you might want to work on building out for your child if they still struggle to get a full night’s sleep – keeping them calm by enforcing a no-phones or devices rule, and interchanging the habit with some bedtime stories.
When your children move from having regular afternoon naps to sleeping just once a day, the adjustment period can be a bit challenging. Staying patient and encouraging them to take their afternoon naps for as long as they need is important, since coming to a healthy sleep schedule naturally can have a really positive impact on their well-being.
Using the best mattress for kids, encouraging healthy sleep hygiene habits, and making sure you actually know when kids stop napping can help keep your child well-rested. Instilling healthy attitudes and habits surrounding sleep early on can have a long-lasting and positive impact on your child’s life, so be sure to do the best you can to set an example and be a healthy influence for your own.