Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

'No, Daddy! No nap!'

By James Dinan, CNN
September 12, 2013 -- Updated 1406 GMT (2206 HKT)
It can be nearly impossible to get some children to nap. But why are naps so crucial for growing bodies?
It can be nearly impossible to get some children to nap. But why are naps so crucial for growing bodies?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Not every toddler requires a nap during the day
  • Scheduled quiet time instead of a nap is fine
  • Parents often use nap time for errands or sleep

(CNN) -- My 2-year-old daughter was not happy that I was trying to put her down for her afternoon nap, and she let me know that in many ways.

She pleaded her case in my ear, although her defense primarily consisted of saying "no nap." She bopped me in the head with a stuffed bear. More than once, she squirmed away from my clutches and ran to another room to play with toys.

This has happened several times in recent weeks, but my wife and I usually placed the blame on outside factors. Who could nap when the grandparents or the air-conditioning technician were at the house? But on this day, there were no distractions. My daughter was simply displaying her right not to nap.

Since she came home from the hospital, naps were an essential part of my daughter's routine. But as she got older, that was no longer the case. By the time she turned 1, the morning nap went the way of the dodo bird. Now, the afternoon nap may become a thing of the past.

Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

Are there any hard rules when it comes to toddlers and naps? It all depends on how much sleep tots get over the entire day.

"Sleep requirements vary greatly from one child to the next," said Dr. Vivian Lennon, medical director of primary care at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "Although I recommend naps for both toddlers and their exhausted parents, they are not always necessary."

What does matter is the amount of sleep the toddler gets in a 24-hour period. As the child grows up, Lennon notes, their sleep requirements lessen.

"Newborns generally sleep between 16 to 20 hours a day, and that's divided equally between night and day. From age 1 to 3 years, the child needs only 12 to 14 hours of sleep."

For some toddlers, a midday nap is necessary. But for others, they can get their necessary sleep in one long stretch at night.

"Sleep requirements vary greatly from one child to the next," Lennon said. "The first thing I tell parents is that all children are different."

I learned that when my wife and I asked our friends and colleagues about when their children gave up napping. A mother of five from New Jersey mentioned that all of her kids quit napping around 18 months of age, while a neighbor proudly noted that her 3½-year-old son is "still very much" taking daily naps. A friend of my wife's recalled how her two children spent preschool "nap time" lying down on mats with their eyes open. Lennon noted that her firstborn stopped napping at just 4 months old, while her youngest kept napping until he started pre-K.

So what's a parent to do when their child stops napping, especially when they use that time to perform errands or even to snooze themselves? There is hope, according to Lennon.

"Place your toddler in their playpen with some favorite board books and toys, dim the lights, give them their favorite comfort object and play soothing music. Schedule their quiet time for the same time every day, typically after their midday meal and have had a bit of playtime."

The important goal is make sure your child sleeps soundly and without interruption during the night, so do not schedule "quiet time" too close to their normal bedtime. I tried that once, and my daughter refused to go to bed until midnight.

The day after the "nap fight" with my 2-year-old, I was driving home from the office when I got a call from my wife. I expected to hear about my daughter's playdate and lunch outing with a neighbor friend, but I was surprised to hear some interesting nap news.

"She fell asleep in the car on the way home," my wife beamed. "Please check on her when you get here."

I came up and went upstairs to my daughter's room. There she was, snoozing away in her new toddler bed. Guess she still needs the afternoon nap once in a while.

Share your child's napping story with us. When did they give up the nap, and how did you handle it?

Have you found enforcing nap time difficult in your house? Share your tips and tricks for lulling kids to sleep in the comments section below.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
The situation in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, throws America's problem with talking about race into sharp relief.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 0225 GMT (1025 HKT)
Mo'ne Davis is the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series. She's an inspiration, but will she change the face of the sport?
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
There is a reason why when people post pictures of themselves during their middle school years on Facebook for "Throw Back Thursday," we all stop and take notice.
It could cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars to raise your child -- and that's not even including college costs, according to new government estimates.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 0409 GMT (1209 HKT)
From parent to son, uncle to nephew, there's a raw, private conversation being revived in America in the wake of violence in Ferguson, Missouri.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Children sometimes get left out of our conversations about mental illness. The truth is, they suffer too.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
CNN's Kat Kinsman says that talking freely about personal mental health and suicidal thoughts can help others.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1726 GMT (0126 HKT)
morning person
Easy tips on how to improve everything from your dinner order to the song in your head to your career.
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1733 GMT (0133 HKT)
The case of an Arizona mom who left her kids in a car during a job interview highlights the fluid line between bad parenting and criminal behavior.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1941 GMT (0341 HKT)
A children's book about gun rights has benefited from an unexpected boost in sales after it became the subject of a mocking segment on a talk show.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
Some campers and counselors keep the campfire flames burning with summer flings that become lifetime commitments.
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 1143 GMT (1943 HKT)
After letting her 7-year-old son walk from their home to a park to play, a Florida mother faces up to five years in jail for child neglect.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1536 GMT (2336 HKT)
Lindsey Rogers-Seitz, who lost her son in a hot car, hopes mandatory technology in cars and car seats will stop child death from heatstroke in cars.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1442 GMT (2242 HKT)
Not to mention your jeans, bras and pillows? Here's a definitive guide to keeping all your quarters clean.
Imagination Playgrounds have snaking tunnels, platforms and springy mats just like any other playground. But they're different in one fundamental way -- they're built by kids.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
Grammy Award-winning singer Sarah McLachlan, a 46-year-old divorced mom of two girls, talks about parenting, sex and whether women can have it all.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1154 GMT (1954 HKT)
Researchers say physical punishment actually alters the brain.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 2041 GMT (0441 HKT)
The case of a South Carolina mother arrested for allegedly leaving her 9-year-old daughter at a park while she was working sparks debate over how young is too young to leave a child alone.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1515 GMT (2315 HKT)
CNN's Kelly Wallace reveals 5 common parenting mistakes that many parents admit to making.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Is it a bad idea for parents to let kids drink underage at home, or does an early sip make drinking less taboo? Studies are divided on the subject, which is a tough nut for parents to crack.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
Kids who takes cellphones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 1840 GMT (0240 HKT)
Professional photographer Timothy Archibald uses his camera to connect with his autistic son.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
Do you wish you could outsource the summer cooking, cleaning, and camp planning associated with kids? Here are 5 ways to do it -- and why you shouldn't feel guilty about it.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 1852 GMT (0252 HKT)
The death of a Georgia toddler in a hot car raises the question: should government or automakers get involved to prevent accidental deaths from heatstroke inside a car?
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
It's not just the 'baby blues.' Postpartum depression affects about 15% of new mothers. Here's what one 'warrior woman' is doing to fight it.
Post your personal essays and original photos, and tell us how it really is.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
What does it mean to run "like a girl"? A new viral video points out that the answer changes depending on whom you ask.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 2122 GMT (0522 HKT)
CNN reporter Moni Basu lived in the U.S. nearly 30 years before becoming a citizen. Here's what it meant to pledge her allegiance.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 2107 GMT (0507 HKT)
Her daughter was cut from the team. Her son didn't get into that coveted honors class. It was hard but also helpful. Here's how one mom learned to find lessons in failure.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1556 GMT (2356 HKT)
The presence of transgender and gender nonconforming youth at NYC Pride March is latest effort to increase visibility of the transgender community.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 2227 GMT (0627 HKT)
A new ad by the hair care company Pantene asks why women are always apologizing and raises the question of whether women say "sorry" more often than men.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0048 GMT (0848 HKT)
The American Academy of Pediatrics announced new guidelines this week urging doctors to tell parents to read to their infants and toddlers.
June 28, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
David Martinez grew up thinking he was just an average American kid. When he learned he was undocumented immigrant, it made him re-examine his beliefs about Mexican identity.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1747 GMT (0147 HKT)
A new survey says that working fathers, like working mothers, find it hard to balance work and family.
June 20, 2014 -- Updated 1029 GMT (1829 HKT)
Jenny Mollen has no issue tweeting her breastfeeding. The new author talks motherhood and having a (more) famous husband
June 19, 2014 -- Updated 2120 GMT (0520 HKT)
Experts say "mean girl" behavior begins as young as elementary school. Here's how to prevent raising a mean girl.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 2240 GMT (0640 HKT)
While dads today don't get the same respect and attention as moms, and are often depicted as clueless, they've come a long way, baby.
cnn, parents, parenting, logo
Get the latest kid-related buzz, confessions from imperfect parents and the download on the digital life of families here at CNN Parents.
ADVERTISEMENT