The Vital Activity Your Child (& Mine) Probably Skips

Everybody seems to have a different sad story about when their child gave up napping for the scary new world of being up all day. My older child gave it up for good at about 3.5 and never looked back. And now, at just 3, it looks like my son is going to do the same.

But not so fast, says The New York Times. New research shows the incredible importance of the toddler's nap. And though they don't go so far as quantify an age that is too soon to give up napping, the article does make it clear that napping is a vital part of helping a child get through the day both emotionally and physically.

Basically it keeps them sane. This advice is all fine and good, of course, as long as you have a child who will nap. My son won't nap anymore.


In some ways it's more convenient. On the days where he doesn't nap, he is exhausted by 8 and sleeps well. And not having the nap anymore means we can spend our days doing fun things instead of only being able to go out in the morning and then rushing home.

But my boy is awfully young to be going on night sleep only. And according to this article and Dr. Monique LeBourgeois, the sleep scientist who conducted the research:

Sleepy children are not able to cope with day-to-day challenges in their worlds. [When children skip even a single nap] we get less positivity, more negativity, and decreased cognitive engagement.

This explains the reason my son often seems out of sorts, despondent, and stressed by 7 p.m. This article came at a scary time for me, though. My son is done, but I'm not sure I'm fully done, and clearly he still needs them, too.

It took my older daughter about a year before she fully adjusted to not having a nap. Now she will still fall asleep on occasion when she is very tired, but is fine without a nap for the most part. The fact is, at a certain point, kids are just ready to be awake all day. And no amount of forcing them to stay in their bedrooms will make sleep happen.

Hopefully there are no long-term effects!

Does your child nap?

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