Your child may start pushing to give up daytime naps before he’s really ready to lose that extra snooze time. Naps are an important part of the total amount of daily sleep young children need for healthy mental and physical development. Growing bodies require a lot of energy. Daytime naps give children the energy boost they need to grow while replenishing energy expended during play.
Adequate sleep is also critical to your child’s mental development. Research has shown that both children and adults exhibit better retention if they nap after learning new information or new skills. Young children spend nearly every waking moment learning new things and developing new skills. Napping helps cement that new learning in the child’s mind.
Once infants begin sleeping through the night, most require 2 to 4 naps a day. Initially, infants may sleep for as long as 2 hours during each nap. By the age of 6 months most babies have fallen into a 2-nap-a-day schedule, usually snoozing for 1 to 2 hours in mid-morning and again in mid-afternoon.
Nap length gradually decreases to 30 minutes to 1 hour per nap, although a child will frequently sleep longer during growth spurts or the acquisition of difficult new skills. By age 2, most toddlers have given up their morning nap. By age 4, only 50% of preschoolers nap; and by age 5, the majority of children can make it through the day without a nap. However, 3 in 10 kindergarteners still need the occasional nap.