Latest News on Toddler Naps Makes Me Do a Happy Dance

napMy daughter turns 3 in a few weeks, and she's fighting her nap as of late. There are days when she spends a couple of hours in her crib singing and talking with no sleeping, while other days she's out like a light. This was how it started with my son when he gave up his nap, but he was at least 4 then.

Her giving up her nap at this point simply can't happen. She needs her nap. I need her nap. I intend for her to nap for at least another year, and I'm determined to make it happen. She's always been a fabulous sleeper, and I've been able to bank on at least two or two and a half hours of peace a day just when I need it most.

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Thinking about adding two more hours of her high-demanding little self to my day is, frankly, exhausting enough for me to want to take a nap. Not to mention how much more cranky/naughty/insane she acts later in the afternoon when she doesn't have one.

So yes, my motives for doing anything I can to thwart this nap revolt are mainly selfish, or sanity-saving, depending on how you look at it. But they're also for her, really, and a new study backs me up and then some. It says naps now are important to future mental health later in life.

A study out of Colorado found that even missing one daily nap can affect toddlers' anxiety level and interfere with their ability to solve problems. Over time that adds up, and there may be long-term consequences. Researcher Monique LeBourgeois, Ph.D., told PsychCentral:

This study shows insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings, and, over time, may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems.

The study also provided all sorts of interesting data on how sleep affects everything from toddlers' tantrums to their ability solve puzzles. Bottom line: Toddlers need sleep, and without naps, most don't get enough of it. And now I can push aside those little nagging thoughts of guilt that maybe these naps were a little bit more about me than her.

The study didn't provide any data as to what toddler naps do for a mom's long-term mental health, but my guess is that the benefits there are even greater. My operation nap resurrection will now resume ... with relish.

At what age did your children give up their naps? Do you think your kids get enough sleep?



Image via abbybatchelder/Flickr

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