Toddler Sleep Issues: Naps … or Lack Thereof

Julie Ryan Evans

Photo by LelandsMommy
I'm probably jinxing myself by putting this in print, but for the past couple of weeks, my 14-month-old daughter has been in a good nap place. After a series of false starts, I think we may have finally made the transition from two naps to one (most days), which is working well lately.

Lately is the key word though. We've struggled a lot (and I'm sure will struggle again) with her naps, and I know many other parents of toddlers do too.

So I caught up with Dr. Ari Brown, author of Toddler 411, to discuss some of our most nagging nap questions.

When does the average child transition from two to one nap a day?

At 10-21 months of age.

How long should a toddler's nap be?

With two naps, usually the morning one is shorter (30 minutes to an hour), and the afternoon nap may be 90 minutes to three hours. With just one nap, it's usually in the early afternoon for 90 minutes to three hours. I discourage starting a nap later than 2 to 3 p.m. or sleeping later than 5 p.m. That's a set-up that leads to a very late bedtime.

How many total hours a day should toddlers sleep?

1-3 years: 13 hours
3 years: 11-12 hours
4 years: 11 hours

At what age do most toddlers give up their nap? What are the signs they're ready?

About 90 percent of 3-year-olds still take a nap. Only 35 percent of 4-year-olds still do; and, less than 20 percent of 5-year-olds still do. You'll know they're ready to give it up when they play instead of sleep during nap time. Hold onto that quiet down time until your child is no longer napping during nap time for six out of seven days. If he still naps at least twice a week, odds are he still needs that nap. The nap also needs to go if your child is up until 10 or 11 p.m. playing or talking because he isn't sleepy.

What if your toddler fights the nap?

Stick to quiet time -- he can do what he wants to in his room, quietly.

What are your biggest napping challenges -- besides figuring out how to take one yourself?

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