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Understanding the right amount of naps for children

Nap time is a crucial aspect of a child's daily routine, playing a significant role in their overall health, well-being, and development. As parents and caregivers, it's essential to understand the optimal amount of sleep children need during the day to support their physical and mental growth.

Happy French baby sleeping.

Infants (0-12 months):

During the first year of life, sleep is fundamental for an infant's growth and development. Newborns typically sleep for the majority of the day, with nap durations varying. As infants grow, the number of naps generally decreases, and the length of each nap may extend. By three to four months, many infants start to establish a more predictable nap schedule, taking around three to four naps a day. As they approach their first birthday, the number of naps may reduce to one or two longer naps.

Toddlers (1-3 years):

Toddlers typically require around 12 to 14 hours of sleep per day, including nighttime sleep and naps. Most toddlers transition from two naps to one afternoon nap during this stage. The ideal nap duration for a toddler can range from one to two hours, with the timing often occurring after lunch. Establishing a consistent nap routine can be beneficial for both the child and the caregiver, providing a structured break in the day.

Preschoolers (3-5 years):

As children enter the preschool years, their need for daytime naps decreases. However, many preschoolers still benefit from an afternoon nap, especially if they had an early start to the day. On average, preschoolers may require 10 to 13 hours of sleep per night, including the nap. The duration of the nap can range from 45 minutes to two hours, but it's crucial to ensure that the nap doesn't interfere with nighttime sleep.

School-age children (6-12 years):

Once children enter school, they often phase out of regular napping. However, the importance of adequate nighttime sleep remains vital for their physical and cognitive development. School-age children typically need 9 to 12 hours of sleep per night. While napping may become less frequent, occasional naps can still be beneficial, especially during periods of increased physical or mental activity.

Factors influencing nap needs:

  • Individual variations: Each child is unique, and their sleep needs can vary. Pay attention to your child's cues and adjust nap time based on their individual requirements.

  • Activity level: More active or physically demanding days may warrant longer or additional naps.

  • Illness or growth spurts: During times of illness or growth spurts, children may require more sleep, including daytime naps.

Understanding the right amount of naps for children involves recognising their individual needs, developmental stage, and daily activities. Establishing a consistent and age-appropriate nap routine can contribute significantly to a child's overall health and well-being, supporting their growth and enhancing their ability to learn and explore the world around them.

Marine, mother and founder of St Pancras Recruitment

Marine Lienard, Founder of St Pancras Recruitment


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