We are all well aware that babies need to nap, and as they get older, their need for day sleep reduces but is no less important. It’s finding the right balance for the correct amount of sleep that can be the tricky part. From newborns to the time they are 6 months old, children’s daily sleep requirements change dramatically. Newborns need around 4-7 hours of day sleep and once they are 6 months plus this drops dramatically to 2.5-3 hours and by the time they reach 15-18 months toddlers only require one nap day.
The questions most people struggle with at this age with an active toddler are: When should this nap be? How long is this nap? And, How do I go from two naps to one, and still make it to bedtime with out meltdowns from being overtired?
Our body’s neurological need for sleep is designed for many reasons. When we sleep our brain consolidates significant memories from the day, we grow, we restore, we rest and our brain removes any unwanted matter that is not needed to make space for new information. This is why we need to shut down and sleep. But we also know that in the case of babies and toddlers, a well-rested child is much healthier and happier than an overtired sleep deficient one.
The reason the morning nap disappears or is dropped at around 15-18 months, is that a toddlers body no longer requires that much day sleep and they move from two naps to one long consolidated restorative lunch time nap for up to 2hrs over a time that works in with our natural biological sleep window. Once toddlers reach 15-18 months having more than 2hrs day sleeps can start to impact on their night time sleep, evening settling and even cause early morning wake ups, removing the morning nap by this age will help prevent these issues.
Finding the right balance of day sleep for toddlers can be tricky, at around 15-18 months many toddlers start to resist their morning nap and it gets shorter and shorter, a 30 minute nap is now only 10 minutes or sometimes not at all. The issue is, that a 15-18 month old that used to stay awake for only 2.5 hours is now awake for up to 5.5 hours from the start of the day until the lunch nap begins, that can sometimes prove to be a very big jump for most.
How can we help make this transition smoother and gentler for your very active toddler?
Look out for signs that indicate it is time to drop this morning nap or signs you should wait a little longer.
Signs they are ready:
-They happily stay awake until 12pm.
-They don’t fall asleep in the car when you run errands at 10am.
-They have resisted the morning nap for 2 weeks.
-They are sleeping well at night.
Signs they are not ready:
-They are tired before 12.
-Their nap is over by 1pm.
-They start to wake earlier in the morning when you drop to one nap.
-They have tired meltdowns by 4/5pm.
-Their night sleep falls apart.
-Their one nap is only 90 minutes or less.
About the author: Narisha Ashelford is a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Consultant Australia and very proud mum of a beautiful son. She is highly experienced in tailoring solutions for individual parenting styles. You can find out more about Narisha and what she does at www.babysleepconsultant.com.au, or if you think you have a sleep problem, you can phone Narisha directly on 0413 007 251, and she’d love to help you.