MS, RD, LDN, CSSD, CBS
Rachel holds a Master’s in Nutrition Communication from Tufts University and is also a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She works as a nutrition and wellness coach with focuses on infant and maternal nutrition, and mindful eating.
While naps are an important part of a child’s day because they provide time for little bodies to rest and restore both mentally and physically, most children ultimately give up napping between the ages of 3 and 5 years old.
Many children between the ages of 2 and 3 will begin showing signs of nap resistance – they are notoriously busy, curious, lack impulse control and gain the ability to fight sleep. But you can and should encourage your toddler to maintain a healthy nap pattern until you are sure she can function without it. If your child’s behavior, mood and coping skills deteriorate dramatically when she forgoes naps, she still needs them.
Hold to regular naps until at least age three
Offer a nap period each and every day. As your child gets older, there may be days she is able to resist sleep during her nap period, but still biologically needs a nap. On these days, be consistent and insist your child stay in her regular nap space for a rest period. Even if your child does not sleep, her body will benefit from the regular ‘down time’ and she may fall back into her normal napping pattern.
Provide an optimal nap environment
Your toddler is easily distracted and thinks she has many other things to do during the day besides sleep. Use a dark room for napping to block out tempting visual stimulation. And try a white noise machine during your child’s naps to block out extraneous noises that could disrupt sleep.
Cue your child for nap time
A consistent pre-nap routine will help your toddler know that it is time for her to rest. The nap routine can be much shorter than a nighttime routine, but something consistent with little stimulation is ideal, such as a song, massage or one book to mark the beginning of the nap period.
Look for signs that a nap is no longer needed
Despite your best efforts, most children will be biologically ready to give up napping between the ages of three and five. Here are some signs that she is ready to let go of her naps:
Rebecca, Spencer. “Sleep Research Study Finds Daytime Naps Enhance Learning in Preschool Children.” University of Massachusetts. Date accessed 6 August 2018.