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    Hot Topic: Naptime

    Ah, naptime. Doesn’t your toddler look peaceful when they’re asleep? And a little tranquility for you couldn’t hurt either! But what if your toddler decides prematurely that they’ve gotten over napping? Or what if, on the other hand, they seem like they’re napping too much?


    An Inexact Science

    Every child has their own unique sleep patterns – circadian rhythms, tied to cycles of light and darkness and a body’s “quota” for sleep. This means that children have individual needs when it comes to napping, needs you should do your best to observe and recognize. Another factor that determines when and why kids nap is cultural; if they attend daycare or you’ve established a strict napping schedule at home, a toddler is liable to follow that schedule.

    But They Won’t Nap Forever

    But sooner or later, most kids are going to say they don’t need to nap anymore. When this happens, you should watch for signs that your toddler might be skipping their nap prematurely: yawning, droopy eyes, crankiness, all at around the time when they used to nap. If your child gives up their nap before 4 years old, and they still exhibit these symptoms, try offering them some quiet time in their room around their former naptime. Dim the lights and leave them alone. Even if they don’t fall asleep, it can still be a recharging break. Providing a restful environment at the right times can help kids keep a healthy sleep schedule – even if they think they know better. (And this doesn’t just apply to nap-shy toddlers: teenagers who stay up to chat with their friends could also probably use a reminder that lights out means lights out.)

    Naptime Facts

    But what about children who don’t want to give up their naps? 20-30% of five-year-olds still need a nap in the afternoon. Kindergartens and daycare programs often have an optional nap, but if you know your kid needs one at a certain time, a quick chat with your kindergarten teacher or daycare professional might be a good idea. If drowsiness persists when your child starts grade school, it might be wise to ask your pediatrician about it.

    The most important responsibility you have when it comes to your child’s sleep is being observant and supportive; know the signs of drowsiness so you can provide encouragement to sleep.

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