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Solving Naptime Problems

By Elizabeth Pantley
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley (McGraw-Hill, 2002, 2005)

Naps are important for your child’s health and growth. A nap refreshes a child so that she can maintain her energy for the rest of the day. Studies show that children who nap are more adaptable, have longer attention spans, and are less fussy than those who don’t nap.

Does your child needs a nap?
Here are signs that your child would benefit from a nap:

How much naptime does your child need?
Children differ in their sleep needs - but the following chart applies to most.

Even if your child’s sleep hours add up to the right total, his behavior tells you more than any chart could. When in doubt try for a nap, since even quiet time can help a child feel refreshed.

Average hours of day and night sleep

AgeNumber of napsNaptime hours / Night sleep hours* / Total night and nap sleep
NewbornNewborns sleep 16 - 18 hours daily, spread over 6 - 7 sleep periods.
3 mo.35–6 / 10–11 / 15
6 mo.23–4 / 10-11 / 14–15
9 mo.22 ½-4 / 11-12 / 14
12 mo.1-22–3 / 11 ½–12 / 13 ½–14
18 mo.1-22–3 / 11 ¼-12 / 13–14
2 yr.11–2 ½ / 11–12 / 13–13 ½
3-4 yr.0-10–1 ½ / 11–11 ½ / 11–13
5-7 yr.0-10-1 / 11 / 11–12

Keep Reading

*These averages don’t signify unbroken stretches of sleep since night waking is normal.

Timing and length of naps
Timing of naps is important. A late nap will prevent your child from being tired at bedtime.

Generally, the best nap times are:
Two naps: midmorning (9:00 - 11:00) and early afternoon (12:00 - 2:30)
One nap: early afternoon (12:00 - 2:30); after lunch

If your child tends towards short naps, don’t assume it’s all she needs.

Try these tips for better naps:

Watch for signs of tiredness
Tired children fall asleep easily. If you miss the signals they become overtired and are unable to sleep.

Your child may show one or more of these signs that tell you he is tired and ready to nap:

The nap routine
Once you’ve created a schedule that works with your child’s periods of tiredness, follow a simple but specific nap routine. Your child will be comfortable with a pattern to his day. He may predict when naptime approaches and willingly cooperate with you.

Nap routines change
Children’s sleep needs change over time. The routine that you set up today won’t be the same one you’re using a year from now. Be adaptable!

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley (McGraw-Hill, 2002, 2005)

© Elizabeth Pantley
Elizabeth Pantley is a author and parent educator and frequently quoted expert who presents lectures across the United States. She is the mother of four children. Check out her website at! Her newsletter, "In Touch With Elizabeth Pantley," provices valuable parenting tidbits and advice, plus advance notice of book releases and appearances. Sign up at her site!


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