One day, you're happily getting a few chores done while your little one takes a nap. The next, your darling refuses to sleep. That dreaded day when your child decides to stop taking naps is inevitable, and your only hope is that maybe she'll begin to sleep longer at night. Whether your child does sleep longer at night depends on how long she is sleeping now and how old she is.
No More Naps
Children who stop napping often do sleep a bit longer at night -- about an hour longer -- because they are usually tired earlier, resulting in a earlier bedtime. This can vary depending on sleep habits, however. If your child was only napping for a short period of time -- say, a quick 30-minute nap -- and was already sleeping 11 hours per night, she may not sleep longer after dropping the nap.
Ages & Stages
Infants nap around the clock, eventually settling down to take two two-hour naps per day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. By the time a child enters his toddler years, however, one of those naps -- usually the morning one -- gets dropped. Toddlers up to the age of 3 usually need between 10 and 13 hours of sleep, according to KidsHealth.org, so they often take an early afternoon nap of about two hours, and then sleep for about 10 hours at night. Young children usually drop this afternoon nap between the ages of 3 and 4 -- almost always by the time they turn 5 -- and then sleep between 10 and 12 hours at night.
Although most children stop napping by 4 years of age, some experts believe this may be too soon, according to "Parents" magazine. One factor may be school: some preschools and most kindergartens don't include a nap time, and even if they do, children often have a harder time falling asleep when they aren't at home in their own bed. Children who are ready to give up naps aren't fussy in the afternoon and have no problem falling asleep at night or getting up in the morning.
A Good Night's Sleep
It's important for all children to get a good night's sleep, but even more so for a child who has recently given up her daily naps. Help her sleep well by establishing a consistent bedtime routine that includes activities designed to get her to wind down and relax. These may include a warm bath, a quiet story and a lullaby or two. Soft lighting also helps. Resist putting a television in your child's room or letting her have any screen time -- including on a computer -- before bed.
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