If you watch carefully, and if you know what to look for, you will be able to tell if your child needs a nap. Here are some of the signs that your child needs a daily nap:
Children differ in their sleep needs, some naturally needing less or more than shown here -- but what follows is a general guide that applies to most of them. Keep in mind, though, that even if your child's sleep hours add up to the right amount, his or her behavior tells you more than any chart possibly could. When in doubt -- always try for a nap, since even a period of quiet time can help a child feel more refreshed.
|Age||Number of naps||Total length of naptime hours||Nighttime sleep hours||Total of nighttime and naptime sleep**|
|12 months||1-2||2-3||11 1/2-12||12 1/2-14|
|18 months||1-2||2-3||11 1/4-12||13-14|
|2 years||1||1-2 1/2||11-12||13-13 1/2|
|2 1/2 years||1||1 1/2-2||11-11 1/2||13-13 1/2|
|3 years||1||1-1 1/2||11-11 1/2||12-13|
|4 years||0-1||0-1||11-11 1/2||11-12 1/2|
Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution (McGraw-Hill)
The timing of your child's naps is important since a nap that occurs too late in the day will prevent your child from being tired when bedtime approaches. Generally, the best nap times are as follows:
The goal for a nap is to allow your child to get adequate rest to fuel the rest of the day. The optimal length of naps varies by age and among children, but the best naps are usually one to two hours in length. The previous sleep chart can give you a good rule of thumb for your child. If your child tends towards short naps, don't give in and assume that it's all the nap time that she needs. Try some of these tips for increasing the length of her naps:
Tired children fall asleep easily, and your child will give you signals that he is ready for a nap. If he isn't tired he'll resist sleep, but if you miss his signals, he can easily become overtired and will then be unable to fall asleep when you finally do put him to bed. Your child may demonstrate one or more of these signs that tell you he is tired and ready to nap -- now:
Once you have created a nap schedule that works with your child's daily periods of tiredness, follow a simple but specific nap routine. Your child will be most comfortable if there is a predictable pattern to his day. He may come to predict when his naptime approaches and willingly cooperate with you.
Children's sleep needs change over time, so remember that the routine that you set up today won't be the same one you're using a year from now. Be adaptable!
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