Kids and Naps

Naps are good. Why don’t kids realize this?

Cherylyn Feierabend
4-minute read
Episode #129

Hey there! You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some Quick and Dirty Tips for Practical Parenting.

Nap time. Parents love it and kids hate it. Well, sometimes they hate it. My kids have always fought the nap, even when they needed it. Parents love nap time because it gives them some downtime during the day and it generally prevents the early evening tantrums that often occur when you have a sleepy child on your hands. So, what do you do when your child won’t take a nap? How do you get him to sleep? When is it time to give up on naps altogether and how important are these naps anyway?

How to Decide If Your Child Still Needs a Nap

When you are considering whether or not your child still needs his daily nap, you’ll need to look a few different factors. Babies needs a lot more sleep than small children, but each child is still different. Most children around the ages of two to four do well on about 12 to 14 hours of sleep per day. So, if your three-year-old is sleeping 12 hours a night, he might not need a very long nap in the afternoon. If your child is like my daughter, who only needs about 10 hours of sleep a day, he or she  might be ready to give up naps altogether. My daughter stopped taking naps when she was three. She simply didn’t need them anymore. My son is almost four and still struggles through the day if he doesn’t get at least 45 minutes of shut-eye in the afternoon. He needs a nap as well as a full night’s sleep in order to function well throughout the day. Even if you’ve decided that your child can make it through the day without his nap, you should still schedule some quiet time during the day. We all need down time and that includes children. Encourage your child to take some time to play quietly with blocks, color, or read. Quiet time is great for everyone. You can join your child or have him enjoy this time on his own-- whatever works for both of you.

If He Still Needs a Nap But Doesn’t Want One

If you’ve determined that your child still needs his daily nap, but every day presents a new struggle, you may need to resort to some of the same tactics you use at bedtime. As you’ve heard me mention before, you’ll want to create a routine and stick to it. That includes on both weekdays and weekends. Sticking to the routine as much as possible is going to be your best bet. For example, if you have scheduled nap for after lunchtime, try to keep lunch near the same time every day. Let your child know that after lunch he’ll be lying down to rest for a while. Sometimes avoiding the word “nap” will help you avoid the some rebellion. You certainly don’t want to ask the question, “Do you want to take a nap?” Presenting this question to a child who is a nap-fighter is definitely going to illicit a negative response. You’ll want to avoid this because it can cause your child to become excited and start fighting you before you’ve even begun. Once your child has finished his lunch or whatever activity that occurs before nap, escort him to his bedroom and tuck him in just as you would at night. This is a great time to read some stories or sing some quiet songs. Help your child relax just as you would for a nighttime bed routine. By helping him transition into nap time gently, you should see an increase in nap time success.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.