I am dreading the day that my son is no longer napping. I love naptime. This is when I get to recharge my battery while working and getting other stuff done around the house without my two-year-old in tow.
It is a normal part of development when nap times start changing. How will you know it’s time to reduce the number of naps your child has in one day? The most important tip you should bring away from this post is that this is a guide and all children are individuals who will meet various milestones at a different pace.
Before we can decide if our child should be dropping a nap we need to understand how much sleep a child needs and how many naps are optimal.
The following is a guideline of how many hours of sleep (nighttime and naps added together) a child needs:
- Newborn (0 – 3 months of age) about 16 – 18 hours per day
- 3 – 6 months of age about 15 hours per day
- 6 – 12 months of age about 14 hours per day
- 12 months of age and up about 12 – 13 hours per day
The average number of naps a child needs per day is as follows:
- Newborns (zero to three months) at least four to five naps a day.
- Three to six months at least three times a day.
- Six to fourteen months should have 2 naps a day.
- Fourteen months to three years seem to do well with one nap.
What are the signs to look for when deciding if your child will benefit from dropping a nap?
- Nap length is decreasing
- Child’s ability to stay awake and function well is improving
- Crying or playing in his/her crib for 30 minutes or longer before falling asleep
- Child is sleeping longer for one nap and the other nap is getting shorter
- Child is having an afternoon nap without issue but nighttime becomes a problem.
Another important thing to mention is that when your child is reaching a new developmental milestone (i.e. walking or talking) naptimes often are affected. Wait two weeks of seeing the signs to drop a nap before you drop a nap!! Changing sleep patterns can take the body 4 to 6 weeks to fully adjust so you must be patient when reducing naps. Remember most things get worse before they get better!!
Take care and happy sleeping,