Should my toddler nap during the day?

Struggling to get your toddler down for her afternoon nap? Try these expert tips…

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Your toddler is probably having so much fun exploring her surroundings during the day that she might resist taking her afternoon nap. “This could be one of the first signs that your little one’s sleep requirements are changing,” says co-author of the best selling baby care series: Baby Sense; Sleep Sense; Feeding Sense and Your Sensory Baby, Meg Faure.

How much sleep does my toddler need?

By the time your baby is a year, you’ve probably settled her into a predictable routine of daytime naps and regular bedtimes. “The age-appropriate sleep for this age is two periods of sleep during the day, and around 12 hours at night,” says Meg.  Don’t worry if your toddler occasionally wakes up during the night now, this is normal.

Should she still have a nap during the day?

Yes. Meg says your little one should still have a daytime nap for a stretch of one to three hours during this stage. “If your toddler (from 3-years-old) resists her midday nap, but is struggling to make it through the afternoon, move her bedtime an hour earlier on the days she doesn’t have a nap,” Meg advices.

If your toddler resists her afternoon nap, you can try the following tips:

Revisit your routine

The National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping your toddler up through the normal morning nap period, and putting her down for a single nap in the middle of the day (a little earlier than her usual second session). It will take some time for your toddler to get used to this new routine, but the end goal is to turn two not-so-long naps into one good nap session.

Aim for consistency

Put your toddler down for her nap at the same hour, in the same spot, with same blanket and stuffed animal. This will help create a consistent association between this spot and sleep, says The National Sleep Foundation.

Have a little pre-nap time routine in place

Have a routine in place just like you would before bedtime. This will help calm your toddler, and sets the tone for the afternoon nap. After lunch time, read a short story to your toddler and then help her get into bed. You can also play relaxing music to get her to drift off. “On days that your little one doesn’t have a nap at all, try to institute 30 minutes of quiet time when she can lie or sit quietly and play to refuel for the afternoon,” says Meg.

ALSO SEE: 7 toddler nap problems decoded

When should I drop my toddler’s nap?

Meg says the age at which your toddler drops her daytime nap is very individual. “Some kids nap until they’re five, while others can happily do without a nap from 2 ½-years-old. Your little one won’t drop her daytime sleep altogether at first. She may nap three days out of seven, and then two or one.”

More about the expert:

Megan Faure (BSc OT, OTR) is a lecturer for the Institute for Sensory Integration (SAISI) and regularly talks to both professionals and parents on baby and childcare issues. Megan is the founder and chairperson of Infant Sensory Integration Training programme. She is also co-author of the bestselling baby care series: Baby Sense; Sleep Sense; Feeding Sense; Your Sensory Baby. Learn more about Megan Faure here.

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