When do kids stop napping? If you ask a first-time mom this question, she might give you a panicked look and say, “Wait, they stop napping?” After all, baby isn’t the only one recharging during naptime. As much as we love our kids, most mamas (and papas!) don’t want to give up that break, either!
Unfortunately, all children grow out of their daily naps.
Which is why I’m here to answer all of your questions and prepare you for that eventual day. Read on to see:
- Why napping is so important
- How long and how frequent naps should be
- Plus, when most kids stop taking naps
Why Napping is So Important
Your baby’s brain takes in and processes an amazing amount of information every day. A simple walk around the block fills their senses with new sights, sounds, and smells. Remember, it’s all new—baby has a lot to process! Researchers say babies, or toddlers, need naps to recharge their brains.
Because of the “intense synaptic activity that goes on in their highly active, highly connected brains, young children are less able to tolerate long periods of time awake.”
It’s those rest periods, say experts, that facilitate and solidify learning. In one study, researchers taught new verbs to children. They then divided the three-year-olds into two groups: one that napped afterward and one that didn’t nap. When both groups were quizzed on how much understanding of those new words that they’d retained, the group that napped performed better.
Napping also improves your child’s mood, and who doesn’t want a happy child? In another study, toddlers who missed just one of their daily naps showed increased anxiety, less joy, and less interest in the world around them. They also gave up on problems, like a puzzle, faster exhibiting signs of confusion and frustration.
How Long and Frequent Should Naps Be?
Newborns generally sleep 16 to 18 hours a day, and their naps don’t happen in normal nap/nighttime sequences. Instead, they generally sleep in clusters ranging from 30 minutes to 4 hours between feedings. Full babies are sleepy babies!
Once babies become more active, the length and frequency of naps varies from child to child. My son Griffin started out as a terrible sleeper, taking short naps and dropping his second nap when he turned one. But then, around two years old, he turned into a power napper, sleeping for two to three hours a day!
In one study, researchers examined the nap patterns of a group of 172 children from birth to age seven.
- By nine to 12 months, babies fell into a pattern of two naps per day.
- By 15 to 24 months, that same group’s napping pattern decreased to one afternoon nap, most of which lasted for about 2 hours.
- By 3 years, the majority of children were still napping, but at decreasing rates.
- By 5 years, a minority of children were napping.
- By 7 years, almost all naps ended.
So When Do Kids Stop Napping?
Most kids stop napping somewhere between 5 and 7 years old, but should they? Like many things when it comes to kids, there’s really no definitive answer. Even toddlers need 11-14 hours of sleep a day, but some kids get that sleep all in one go at night, while others need to make up for the difference during the day.
Here’s more info on how many hours of sleep kids need, including suggested bedtimes for all ages.
How Do You Know If Your Kid Still Needs a Nap?
Pay attention to your kids’ signals. If your child needs a nap, chances are you’ll see the signs: eye rubbing, crankiness, impatience, and frustration. No matter what the age, if your child is resisting naps but still displaying those behaviors, they might still need that break.
To get your toddler to sleep, try:
- Lulling them to sleep with soft, soothing music
- Setting them up with a book in a darkened room
- Giving baby a massage before naptime
How to Tell If Your Child Is Ready to Stop Napping
If, on the other hand, your child seems to have an excess of energy, he/she may be ready to stop napping.
Look for the following behaviors:
- Your kid isn’t tired at naptime and bounces around the room.
- Your kid skips a nap and doesn’t show any negative side effects, like crankiness, frustration, or poor mood.
- Your kid takes all of their normal naps, but you have to fight to get them down at bedtime.
If you can relate to any of the above, try cutting out your child’s nap to see how it affects them. If they seem tired, you can reintroduce naps for another week or two before trying again.
If, on the other hand, your kid seems happy and energetic, he/she may be ready to let go of naptime—for better or for worse! 😉
How About You?
Did your baby’s naps follow any pattern? When did your child stop napping? And, if you have more than one child, did they all stop napping at different times?