When I was a new mother a friend told me, “take a nap whenever the baby is asleep.” That was one of the best pieces of advice I received. Before being a mom, I hadn’t appreciated the value of a nap. Daily naps are essential for young children to have good days and nights.
Many people underestimate the value of sleep. Lack of sleep can negatively affect all areas of life – development, learning and behavior. Naps will help your child’s emotional regulation (fewer tantrums) and will help them sleep better at night. You and your child will have a better and happier day if you both get enough sleep.
It is important to have a good nap routine. A naptime routine gives your child predictability, security and comfort. An ideal naptime routine includes dimming the lights, a story, and playing soft music or having white noise. Your child may want a special blanket or stuffed animal for additional comfort. Experts agree that it’s important to have a designated place for sleep versus napping in a stroller or carseat. Set the stage for naptime with a “no screens before bed” policy – experts recommend stopping screen time at least 30 minutes before sleep.
As your child becomes a toddler or a preschooler, it is often challenging to stick to a naptime schedule. Many children at this age do not want to “miss something.” Remember, it is common for young children to give up their daytime nap sometime after 3 years of age. If your child has outgrown naps, make a quiet time a priority. Quiet time is looking at books or playing quietly (puzzles perhaps). This rest time is beneficial.