I hated it when people would tell me my first child “would sleep when she was tired”. No, she wouldn’t. Her naps were practically non-existent, even as a newborn. She was a very colicky, very high-needs baby and I was extremely frustrated. I pretty much felt like I spent my entire day trying to get her to go to sleep. I wish I would have known the things I know now!
Naps are so important for children! Most children need at least 3 naps until they are around 9 months old. Then they will take two naps until they are about 15-18 months old. For information on transitioning from two naps to one click here: http://www.tulsapediatricsleepconsulting.com/how-to-transition-your-child-from-two-naps-to-one/
Just because your child does not want to take a nap, does not mean she doesn’t need one. Many two-year-olds go through a no- napping phase but I would really be consistent about putting a two year old down for a nap every day. Most children give up their naps completely between 3.5-5 years old. According to Dr. Richard Ferber, a child that still often naps during the day after the age of 5 may not be getting sufficient sleep at night or may have some kind of sleep disorder.
Your child’s behavior is the best indicator of when they are ready to permanently drop their last nap. If she can skip her nap and get through the day without any tantrums or meltdowns then she may be ready. If she gets fussy or falls asleep often in the car, she is probably not ready. Once your child stops napping, it is still beneficial for her to have quiet time every day after lunch.
- Watch for sleepy cues (unless you have an alert child who hides them). Your child may yawn, rub her eyes, zone out, get clumsy, become clingy, etc.
- Have a consistent schedule, with naps around the same time each day. If it’s a struggle for your child to fall asleep, she is probably overtired or not tired enough.
- Have a short pre-nap routine before every nap.
- Work on extending your baby’s naps if she is 6 months or older. Nap coaching can be difficult and it often takes several weeks of complete consistency to get your child’s naps on track.
- Know how much sleep your child needs. Here are the daytime averages according to Dr. Richard Ferber:
1 month: varies
3 months: 4.5 hours, 3-4 naps
6 months: 3.25 hours, 2-3 naps
9 months: 2.75 hours, 2 naps
12 months: 1.5-2.5 hours, 1-2 naps
18 months: 2 hours, 1 nap
2 years: 1.88 hours, 1 nap
3 years: 0-1.5 hours, 0-1 naps
4 years: 0-1 hour, 0-1 naps
5 years: 0 hours, 0 naps
- Feeding your baby to sleep. Try to separate the feeding-to-sleep association by using the Baby Whisperer’s E.A.S.Y routine. Eat-Awake-Sleep-Your Time
- Keeping your baby awake too long. This results in an overtired baby who will have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. If your baby is fussy and difficult to soothe, she is probably overtired.
- Letting your baby (10 months or older) nap so long in the morning that she won’t sleep in the afternoon. The afternoon nap is the more important one since that’s the one she will keep. Limit the morning nap to about an hour if this becomes an issue.
- Relying on naps on the go for a child 6 months or older. It’s okay once in a while but if your child is constantly getting motion sleep she is probably not getting the good, quality rest she needs.
- Rushing in as soon as you hear your child wake up. Be patient and she might go back to sleep.