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Solving Naptime Problems

by: Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution

Naps are important for your child’s health and growth. A nap refreshes a child so that she can maintain her energy for the rest of the day. Studies show that children who nap are more adaptable, have longer attention spans, and are less fussy than those who don’t nap.

solving-naptime-problems.jpgDoes your child needs a nap?
Here are signs that your child would benefit from a nap:

  1. Wakes up happy, but gets cranky later
  2. Has more patience early in the day
  3. Cries more easily in the evening
  4. Has an afternoon slump then gets a second wind
  5. Has temper tantrums during the bedtime routine
  6. Falls asleep in the car or when watching TV

How much naptime does your child need?
Children differ in their sleep needs — but this chart applies to most. Even if your child’s sleep hours add up to the right total, his behavior tells you more than any chart could. When in doubt try for a nap, since even quiet time can help a child feel refreshed.

Average hours of day and night sleep

Age Number of Naps Naptime Hours Night Sleep Hours* Total Sleep Time
Newborn Newborns sleep 16-18 hours daily, spread over 6-7 sleep periods.
6 months 2 3-4 10-11 14-15
12 months 1-2 2-3 11 1/2 -12 13 1/2-14
2 year 1 1-2 1/2 11-12 13-13 1/2
5-7 0-1 0-1 11 11-12

*These averages don’t signify unbroken stretches of sleep since night waking is normal. © Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution (McGraw-Hill)

Timing and length of naps
Timing of naps is important. A late nap will prevent your child from being tired at bedtime. Generally, the best nap times are:

  • Two naps: midmorning (9:00 – 11:00) and early afternoon (12:00 – 2:30)
  • One nap: early afternoon (12:00 – 2:30); after lunch

If your child tends towards short naps, don’t assume it’s all she needs. Try these tips for better naps:

  • Provide a healthy lunch or snack before nap.
  • Keep the room dark.
  • Play lullabies or white noise during the nap.
  • Dress her in comfortable clothes.
  • Be sure that discomfort (teething, allergies, etc.) isn’t preventing sleep.

Watch for signs of tiredness
Tired children fall asleep easily. If you miss the signals they become overtired and are unable to sleep. Your child may show one or more of these signs that tell you he is tired and ready to nap:

  • losing interest in playtime
  • becoming whiny or fussy
  • losing patience
  • having tantrums
  • rubbing eyes or yawning
  • caressing a lovey or blanket
  • asking for a pacifier, bottle or to nurse

The nap routine
Once you’ve created a schedule that works with your child’s periods of tiredness, follow a simple but specific nap routine. Your child will be comfortable with a pattern to his day. He may predict when naptime approaches and willingly cooperate with you.

Nap routines change
Children’s sleep needs change over time. The routine that you set up today won’t be the same one you’re using a year from now. Be adaptable!

Copyright Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

About the Author:
Elizabeth Pantley is the author of several books, including
Gentle Baby Care : No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry — Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby, The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night, Kid Cooperation (with an introduction by William Sears, MD), Perfect Parenting, as well as her latest The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers and is also president of Better Beginnings, Inc. She is a popular speaker on family issues, and her newsletter, Parent Tips, is seen in schools nationwide. She appears as a regular radio show guest, and has been quoted in Parents, Parenting, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, American Baby, Working Mother, and Woman’s Day magazines. Visit Elizabeth’s web site

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2 Comments on "Solving Naptime Problems"

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[…] to nap and go down easily without many problems for mom and dad. Other babies and toddlers fight naptime making it a very stressful and difficult time for their […]

[…] cues and giving them what they want when they want it. This generally means that there is no set nap time or feeding time, there is just baby time, which is often ALL the […]

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