Pediatric sleep expert offers parents nap advice

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When did your child stop napping and how did you know it was the right time? It’s a real struggle for parents when kids start wanting to skip naps, but then need early bedtime, sometimes right at dinner time, instead.

“There are lots of moms who are curious about what to do about naps when their kids hit typically about 3 years of age,” said Boys Town sleep expert Dr. Connie Schnoes. “For a 3 year old naps still are really important. We think about 4-year-olds as being the tweeners, when they start to give up those naps.”

Schnoes says that is not a hard and fast rule for children age 3 and 4 and parents will need to figure out what’s best by watching their own children.

“At age 3 they need 11.25 hours of sleep and so you want to look at how much time they’re sleeping overnight and then figure out what that nap will be,” Schnoes said. “Most kids at that age aren’t going to sleep more than 10 hours overnight so that leaves you about an hour and a quarter for a nap.”

“The other thing you can think about is, kids get sleepy after they've been up for about six hours and so if you look at that overnight sleep schedule and they’re up at 7 a.m. then 1 p.m. is about where you’re looking to put them down for a nap.”

“Then, you want to control how much time they spend napping. An hour to and hour and a half is plenty for a 3 year old so that they’re up again by 2:30 p.m. and your bedtime of 8 p.m. is about six hours away.” Schnoes said. “It helps you create that schedule that you want, and consistency you want but the big picture is paying attention to how much total sleep time you’re child’s getting.”