Are naps really necessary for kids?

Are naps really necessary for kids?

“But I don’t want to take a nap!” It’s the phrase nearly every child cries when they hear that it’s naptime.

While most parents find naptime to be beneficial to their children, a recent study finds that the kids may have been right all along.

According to a recent study published in the Archive of Disease in Childhood, napping after the age of two was linked to needing more time to fall asleep at night, poor sleep quality and spending less time sleeping through the night.

“The most significant finding from our study is that there is not support in the current body of research for enforcing naps in preschool children to improve their health and well-being,” said the study authors in a statement. “Napping in early childhood is often assumed to have universal benefit and this assumption hasn’t really been questioned by research before now.”

However, the authors caution parents that there is not a certain age when napping should end.

“The age of two years should not be seen as a definitive point from which napping should be discouraged,” they said. “Rather, parents of young children should respond to their child’s individual sleep need.”

Dr. Aaron Traeger, a pediatrician with Advocate Medical Group in Normal, Ill., offers these suggestions to parents as they decide if napping is appropriate for their children:

  • Naps should be continued as long as it works for your child and family. For example, if your preschooler takes a great nap and does just fine with bedtime, then go ahead and continue that routine.
  • If naptime causes an emotional and physical struggle, then it may be time to re-evaluate and focus on independent quiet time away from technology and TV screens.

“It is generally our experience that good nappers are usually good nighttime sleepers as well because they understand the routine and expectation when it is time to sleep,” Dr. Traeger says.

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Comments

4 Comments

  1. Lisa Parro

    My 3-year-old son is usually a good napper and a great sleeper as well. I don’t look forward to the day when he gives up his nap because I need the quiet time more than he does sometimes!

  2. I really like the suggestion of independent quiet time. Kind of a time out for the parent and the child. I might need to implement that at our house hold since nap time is turning into a fight!

  3. Daycares have been doing this for a long time. If kids don’t want to sleep they just tell them they need to lay quietly and look at a book for “quiet time”. I’ve raised 6 children and they all stopped napping at different times. My youngest son, however, had a very hard time falling asleep at night so we had to stop doing a nap in order to have decent sleep at night.

  4. If your child is having problems sleeping at night, you can check his naps. But if your child gets naps and sleeps well at night, I would not change anything.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.