What Are the Benefits of Napping?
Sleep is critical to our children’s growth and development, as naps and brain development go hand in hand. When our little ones go through rapid growth, they need not only extra food but also extra sleep and a nap routine. That is where the benefits if napping come in.
According to research, napping could be beneficial for children as old as 12 years of age. Daytime naps are as crucial as a night’s sleep. So, what happens when a child does not get the right amount of sleep and what are the negative effects of napping?
In this article, we explore the benefits of kids and naps and how it affects their growth.
Baby Naps by Age
For napping, sleep schedules, and the amount of sleep needed, it is not set in stone, as each development of childhood requires different amounts of sleep. Let’s take a look.
Newborns usually do not have trouble falling asleep. How long is a nap for them? They typically sleep a lot, on and off around the clock, and wake up every one to three hours when they need something such as milk or diaper change. The average amount of napping varies in newborns. Very short naps and long naps are regular at this stage. They can sleep up to a total of 18 hours per day.
At three months of age, the sleep and wake cycle of a baby should be developing and becoming more predictable. At this stage, babies should be napping three to four times a day, usually after about two hours of being awake.
Infants continue to need three naps a day until they reach six to nine months of age. Some babies at the age of seven to eight months drop the late afternoon nap and move to an earlier bedtime. The average napping time of babies 3 to 12 months of age should be two to four hours. They usually have a total of 14 hours of sleep per day.
For toddlers aged one to three years, they need to have an average napping time of one and a half to three hours. Toddlers who are 12 to 18 months of age continue to nap twice per day and usually drops the second nap between 13 to 16 months.
At three to five years of age, a preschooler usually has an average napping time of zero to two hours. When nap time is eliminated, bedtime should be pushed earlier. At this stage, they should have an average of 11 to 12 hours of sleep at night. Preschoolers must have a solid night’s rest over having a nap.
After the age of five, most children no longer need naps, but they need about 10 to 11 hours of sleep at night. Some kids, especially teens, may still need a nap for about 30 minutes. Afternoon naps at this stage should be kept short, so it will not interrupt their bedtime.
How to Establish a Nap Routine
As parents, we are primarily responsible for the sleep habits of our child. By establishing good habits early, you are more likely to have a happier, self-assured, less demanding and more friendly child. This is one of the benefits of napping.
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Set the Atmosphere and Time
To establish good sleeping habits, ensure that your baby’s sleep environment is conducive. Set the mood and make a ritual that can send cues to your child that it is time to rest. If possible, nap around the same time and the same place every day.
To have an optimal sleep environment, use dim lights, soft music, or low-level white noise if needed. Do not overdress your child for sleep. Make the room cool to make him comfortable.
Nap Routine for Newborns
For newborns, until three months of age, you should follow your baby’s lead in terms of when your baby wants to sleep. Young infants are not yet able to self-soothe to sleep, so you need to help them by comforting them, rocking, or holding them as he falls asleep.
Nap Routine for Infants
For infants three months of age and above, try to experiment with letting your baby self-soothe to sleep. It may prevent the development of future sleep problems. Watch for cues like rubbing the eye, then put your baby to bed while sleepy and see if they can fall asleep on their own. If they cry for more than several minutes, pick up your baby and try again at the next sleeping period. Try and try until your little one gets the hang of it and falls into a routine.
By the time your child is already a toddler, you can try dropping the morning nap. Instead, you can schedule a single nap after an early lunch. If they have an early morning waking, you can try room darkening shades to ensure that early morning light is not leading to their waking early.
Nap Routine for Toddlers and Preschoolers
For toddlers and preschoolers, sticking to a nap time can be a challenge. Many toddlers resist nap time. You cannot force your child to sleep, but you can insist on some quiet time. You can let your child read books or play quietly in their room. Quiet time can lead to sleep time; it will give your child some needed rest.
Things to Avoid to Ensure Healthy Sleep Patterns
It is not harmful to make some adjustments before abandoning naps at all. If you think your child’s late nap is interfering with bedtime, you can make the nap a little earlier. You can also try waking your kid from a nap earlier than usual so that they can have a longer active period before bedtime.
If possible, avoid screen time before going to bed. Studies show that children who use blue light emitting electronic devices 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime delays sleep and can result in insufficient hours of sleep.
If they are going to start a full day in school, try eliminating nap time by putting him early to bed. It is to avoid him from becoming overtired and to help ensure that he gets enough sleep. You should practice it a few weeks before schooling starts as this may take some time to make it a routine. For school aged kids, a daytime nap at least three times a week can still be beneficial.
Why Are Naps Important for Your Child?
Healthy sleep requires a sufficient amount of uninterrupted sleep and includes appropriate naps according to age. Sound sleep ensures that a child has a good foundation for proper mind and body development. It affects temperament, learning and social behavior.
Naps play a vital role in a child’s healthy sleep. A quality nap time is necessary for their early physical and mental development. It is essential to keep your child well rested and ready for the day. Establishing good sleeping habits at an early age is essential. According to research, napping has benefits, particularly on the child’s mood, energy levels and school performance.
Infants have higher levels of learning and memory when they take a long nap right after the information was presented to them. Napping helps a child’s learning process. Studies show that napping can improve cognitive function, creative thinking and memory performance. It is also associated with higher levels of happiness, grit, self control and better verbal IQs.
What Happens When Your Child Doesn’t Nap Enough?
Missing naps may not seem like a big deal, but it can have lifetime consequences. You might observe that your child shows more negative responses and crankiness whenever they miss their regular nap time.
Some parents think that ditching afternoon naps will make their baby sleep better at night. However, it often causes the child to become overtired, thus making it more challenging to put them to sleep at night. Unhealthy sleeping habits and sleep deprivation can cause clumsiness and inattentiveness. They also make a child easily distracted, hyperactive and physically impulsive.
Keep in mind that getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to stay healthy. A healthy sleep habit affects our overall health and appears to be the right medicine to prevent many learning and behavioral problems.