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Here’s How Long Your Toddler Should Nap

Written by: Allyson Hoffman

Updated March 10, 2021

 

The first few years of your child’s life are so exciting. Your little one seems to be getting bigger every day. But there are certainly some growing pains for parenting toddlers. Sleep is essential for children’s growth (1), but many parents struggle to help their toddlers stay well-rested.

The key to keeping your toddler rested is a consistent napping and nighttime sleep schedule. Naps provide your child necessary daytime rest to recharge. Then, they can be active and enjoy the remainder of the day. Plus, naptime gives parents a chance to relax. With daily nap and bedtime routines in place, you can ensure your toddler gets enough sleep.

How Many Naps a Day Does My Toddler Need?

The number of naps needed depends on your child’s age and individual needs. Before they reach a year, babies generally take between one and four naps each day (2).

At one year old, a morning nap and afternoon nap are common. After that, your child will transition to needing less sleep. You can shorten the naps incrementally and make bedtime earlier. By eighteen months, most children will nap only once per day, usually in the early afternoon. The nap shouldn’t be too close to bedtime.

How Long Should My Toddler Nap?

How long your toddler should nap depends on their age and needs. However, consistency is important. Too long of a nap can mean your child stays up later at night (3) because they’re not tired.

When planning out naps for your child, it’s important to know how much daily sleep they should be receiving. The National Sleep Foundation has developed a helpful guideline (4):

Age Recommended Daily Sleep, Including Naps
Newborn 0–3 months 14–17 hours
Infant 4–11 months 12–15 hours
Toddler 1–2 years old 11–14 hours
Preschooler 3–5 years old 10–13 hours
School-Aged Child 6–12 years old 9–12 hours (naps no longer recommended)

Naps for babies under a year can range from 30 minutes to 2 hours to give them the full amount of sleep they need.

As toddlers grow, they don’t need to nap for as long as they did in their baby years. Consider how long your child sleeps at night to determine the optimal length of their nap or naps. For example, if your two-year-old sleeps ten hours at night, a nap for an hour or two during the day will help them achieve the recommended amount of sleep.

Keep in mind that every child is different. One-year-old sleep schedules often include a nap that's at least an hour and a half long. Two-year-olds take naps that last between 1 and 4 hours (5).

It is worth noting that children at daycare who nap for 60 minutes or less (6) tend to sleep well at night. Naps lasting more than an hour nap can lead to your child sleeping less at night.

How Can I Tell if My Toddler is Well-Rested?

A well-rested child is alert and able to do their daily routines and activities. If your child is fussy or irritable (7), they may not be getting enough sleep. Also, watch for signs of sleepiness during the day. Does your child rub his eyes often? Is she yawning excessively, even after a night of sleep or nap time? If so, you may need to make bedtime earlier to ensure they get enough sleep at night.

How Can I Help My Toddler Nap?

Toddler naptime and bedtime routines should be similar. Both types of sleep should happen in the bedroom, so that your child associates their room with sleep. As with bedtime, the bedroom at naptime should be dark, cool, and quiet. You may sing or read with them to help encourage sleep.

What if My Toddler Doesn’t Want to Nap?

There are many ways to approach a child who doesn’t want to nap. Perhaps your child isn’t feeling tired today. Maybe she’s even transitioning out of her napping days. However, daily quiet and rest time is still helpful for your child. Allow your child to choose if they’d like to nap or play quietly for the duration of nap time. Reading, coloring, or doing puzzles are all good quiet time activities. These should take place in the bedroom, away from distractions in other parts of the home.

When Can My Toddler Stop Napping?

Most children still need naps at 3 years old. However, as they get older, they’re less likely to need naps. By age 5, most children no longer need a nap.

Your child may no longer need a nap if they:

  • Struggle to fall asleep at naptime
  • Struggle to fall asleep at night on days they've taken a nap
  • Wake up early in the morning feeling fully rested
  • Play quietly during nap time often
  • Show no signs of sleepiness until bedtime

Keep in mind that if your child is done with naps they will likely need more sleep at night (8) to get enough sleep.

With patience and flexibility, you can help your child develop a good sleep routine. Then you can rest easy knowing your child is well-rested, too.

 

References

 

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/healthysleep.html Accessed on March 3, 2021.
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002392.htm Accessed on March 3, 2021.
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25915066/ Accessed on March 3, 2021.
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073412/ Accessed on March 3, 2021.
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7792496/ Accessed on March 3, 2021.
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27277329/ Accessed on March 3, 2021.
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21988087/ Accessed on March 3, 2021.
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21217402/ Accessed on March 3, 2021.