Toddlers need rest during the day to restore their energy.

How Many Hours After Waking Up Should a Toddler Take a Nap?

by Chelsea Fitzgerald

Moms of busy toddlers may start counting down the hours until nap time right after the tot awakens in the morning. Whether you need your own downtime after keeping the toddler safe and entertained all morning or you want to do your chores without the never-ending questions from the curious tot, determining the appropriate nap time isn’t difficult if you observe the child’s behavior.

1. Timing of the Nap

After the age of 18 months and until they are around 30 months, most children only require an afternoon nap to make it successfully through the day, according to the WebMD website. Some youngsters may still need this afternoon nap until they are 4 year olds. Therefore, watch for signals of fatigue after the child enjoys his noonday meal.

2. Signals That Your Toddler Needs a Nap

Every child acts differently when ready for a nap, but there are common signals you can look for to determine when he – and you – need some restoration time. Watch for physical signs in your little one, like rapid blinking, yawning, rubbing his eyes, or zoning out by simply sitting and staring. Emotional signs are if the tot becomes irritable or starts crying at the drop of a hat. A toddler’s coordination often decreases when tired; therefore, trying to walk or play well may frustate him, as suggested by the Family Education website. Don’t be surprised if your toddler’s mood changes quickly from being a little ray of sunshine to dissolving in tears. These are indications that he needs his rest.

3. Importance of Nap Time Routines

Keeping a set routine helps your toddler reap the most benefits from his downtime. It also decreases the chances of him being contrary when you announce, “It’s time to take a nap.” Have him lie down in the same place every day, whether that is the couch in the den or his own bedroom. This ensures that the toddler associates the area with rest. Refrain from checking up on him as you do during the night since the distraction may prevent him from settling down. If he is recalcitrant to the idea of taking a nap, assure him that he may sing softly, whisper to his favorite stuffed animal or just lie there awake, but he must rest. Often he will fall asleep regardless of his efforts to stay awake, but as he grows older and the need for a nap decreases, he is likely to fall asleep less often or for shorter lengths of time.

4. Length of Nap Time

It is tempting to allow your toddler to sleep as long as he likes, but if it is beyond an hour and 45 minutes, he may not be ready to fall asleep when bedtime arrives, according to the WebMD website. If your toddler starts whining or is cranky when you wake him from his nap, cuddle with him and rub his back while talking softly. Other options are to sing songs to him, play some music that he enjoys, read him a book or another type of quiet activity to help him awaken gently, as suggested by the Family Education website.

About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.

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