Naps are part of the daily life of the little ones and, in addition to resting for them, on many occasions, it takes a little while for mom and dad to rest too. However, you’re probably wondering when kids stop napping. We analyze it.
Sleep needs change throughout life, something that is more noticeable in babies and children. When babies are born, they usually spend much of the day (and night) sleeping, taking three to five naps of between seven and nine hours.
Around four months, they acquire the circadian rhythm, being able to differentiate day from night and with a dream that is increasingly similar to that of adults.
Around six/eight months they usually take two naps a day, one in the morning for about an hour and another after eating for about two hours. And around 12-18 months, a large number of children do without one of them, only keeping one after eating.
But, at what age do children stop napping?
When do children stop napping?
The reality is that there is as much variability as subjects. Each child is unique, with different characteristics and needs. However, broadly speaking, it can be said that it is between the ages of two and a half and three when children stop taking a nap, according to the psychologist and child sleep specialists.
“Naps are common up to 3-4 years. But, after that age, some children continue to sleep in the middle of the afternoon without interfering with their night sleep”.
The reason why it happens at this age is simple: at this time a large part of the little ones start school and there, except in exceptional cases, the children do not sleep (which they do in nursery school).
Being a process, sometimes, something forced by the very situation of starting school, the little ones may be more irritable than normal.
If this is your case, you can choose to put him to bed earlier so that he can rest for the hours he needs at this time.
In any case, it is always advisable to do it to compensate for the loss of sleep since, at three years of age, naps are usually one hour and they may still need it.
Logically, boys and girls stopping taking naps do not happen from one day to the next. Rather it is a gradual process: there will be days that they do not sleep and others that do.
However, if children after five years still show signs of needing a nap, it could be that the sleep is not restful at night, so it would be necessary to consult the paediatrician.
But this does not mean that it cannot happen sooner. Thus, there may be boys and girls who do not take a nap at two years of age and it is completely normal since the hours of sleep that each person needs are different.
This is the case, for example, of highly capable children, who usually lose their naps very soon without it being a cause for concern.
How do I know if my child no longer needs a nap?
Observing the child during the day is key to knowing how his hours of sleep and rest. If the boy or girl is happy, eats well, and plays, it indicates that her rest is restful. If, on the contrary, we find a boy or a girl irritated, tired, and in a bad mood, we should think that he does not sleep enough or does not rest well. And this rule is also applicable to finding out if my son no longer needs a nap.
Thus, there are small details to pay attention to:
- Takes a long time to fall asleep at night without showing any signs of sleepiness.
- It is active at nap time. Instead of being calm and ready to sleep, he shows signs of activity.
- He is not irritated or in a bad mood for not taking a nap.
- He is irritable because you force him to take a nap, he protests, cries, and gets angry.
In no case should we force a child to take a nap since, in all probability, this will make him more nervous, making it difficult to fall asleep. Instead, we can favor it with an environment conducive to sleeping with dim light or relaxing sounds, for example.
In addition, we can observe what he does for a week and, based on that, decide. Thus, if he only takes a nap for two days, it could indicate that this is not essential in his rest, so we could leave it up to him to sleep the day he wants.
How long do children nap?
Until approximately one year of life, the baby will take two naps a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, for one to three hours. As she grows older and the number of hours she needs to sleep decreases, she will leave the morning break for only one nap a day after eating.
When will he stop napping? As we’ve discussed before, each child’s sleep needs are different, but children generally stop napping between the ages of three and five. At three years old many children start preschool and although in some the siesta is maintained, it is possible that little by little they are leaving it.
It is not something that happens from one day to the next, but it will be gradual. There will be days when they will want to nap and others in which any change in routine will cause them to skip it. If those days you see your baby very irritable at the end of the day, you can advance the time to go to sleep.
Why is it important to respect siesta hours?
During sleep, boys and girls, in addition to resting, consolidate memory, consolidate knowledge and even grow. Therefore, it is essential that babies sleep not only at night but also during the day.
Gone must be old beliefs such as that if they do not sleep during the day, they will sleep more and better at night. Nothing is further from reality. A child (and adult) who arrives tired at bedtime will be more irritable and will have a much harder time falling asleep.
However, it must be taken into account that although respecting the times between naps is essential in babies and should be part of their daily routine, as they grow and sleep evolves, it is likely that they sleep more hours at night and therefore, they need less sleep during the day.
Tips for a better transition
The transition out of napping usually occurs between 12 and 15 months, as his sleep window begins to lengthen and he may stay awake longer between naps and bedtime.
This is usually related to a developmental milestone: babies start to walk. So it is very normal for it to be difficult to put the baby to bed for a nap. The key is to identify the ideal moment in which the baby indicates that he is ready to reduce his rest hours.
The normal thing is that the nap disappears between 3-4 years. It is around the age of four that most children break the nap habit and parents may stop considering it so necessary.
- It is as important to encourage him to sleep as it is to wake him up when he needs it. After seven months, it is better not to take long naps (more than two hours) because they make it difficult to sleep at night. But wake him up gently and lovingly. Nothing abrupt.
- Don’t force it. Review his habits during the week: seeing what he does most days will help you make a decision.
- The important thing is that the day he doesn’t nap, try to get him to do a relaxing activity.
If he only naps for two days, you can let him sleep any day he wants. Remember that if he does it, he may go to bed later at night. And if you don’t, you may need to go to bed earlier.