Is your young child having difficulty getting to sleep at night, or waking up waaaay too early?
If you answered yes, it could mean that your child may no longer need that afternoon nap.
We know that sleep is important because it helps the brain process and organize information. Because 80% of a child’s brain develops by age 3, young toddlers need lots of sleep!
The brains of older toddlers, however, use sleep differently than the brains of young toddlers. Older toddlers (ages 3 and 4) use sleep to regulate emotions and reinforce concepts learned during waking hours, and the best time for that brain activity is during the long, slow-wave deep sleep they have at nighttime. Young kids “need to have an adequate amount of slow-wave sleep for brain restoration to happen,” explains Mark Mahone, a child neuropsychologist at Kennedy Krieger Institute.
All this means is that not all children may need an afternoon nap. Observe your child. If she persistently resists taking a nap, try letting her stay awake and engage in a quiet activity. As her brain and body adjust to a new sleep routine, you may find that she doesn’t need a daytime nap. She may instead need an earlier bedtime, or need sleep in a little later in the morning- and that’s a win for you!