I know parents who have children as old as 5 who still take naps.
I hate those parents.
Each of our kids stopped taking naps at around 2 years old. They either refused to sleep at naptime or go to bed at night if they did nap.
This seemed like the natural indication to us that napping was over. Now I wonder if we gave up too soon after reading this study from the University of Colorado which found that toddlers who don’t nap regularly end up with emotional problems later in life.
So now we need to save for college AND a therapist?
Monique LeBourgeois, director of the sleep and development laboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder, explained in the study that toddlers need 12 to 14 hours of sleep per day, however she found that 15- to 20-percent of toddlers aren’t getting it. The consequences of these toddlers not getting enough sleep, according to her study, are children who do not learn how to manage their emotions.
As toddlers, none of our kids have been able to sleep 12 hours out of 24. When they did fall asleep at nap time after the age of 2, they would simply move those hours to the end of the day. This meant they would be up until about 10 p.m. or later.
LeBourgeois’s study was fresh in my mind the other day when our 3-year-old Rachel became very crabby around 1:30 p.m. I could tell she needed a nap or at least I needed her to spend some time away from me. At 2 p.m., I decided to put Rachel down but only let her sleep for 30 minutes.
I was struggling to keep my eyes open at 11 p.m. later that night when I finally got her to sleep. She woke up promptly at 7 a.m. the next morning. The result? An even crabbier toddler the next day because instead of sleeping 11 hours straight from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. like usual, she slept from 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and then 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.; a total of only 8 and a half hours.
This is better?
I know rest is extremely important for children, especially our children. But no matter what I have tried, there was no way – as toddlers – our kids would sleep much more than 11 hours. I think our kids have slept as much as they needed and — despite this new research – are not at risk of emotional problems later in life.
But, just in case we’re wrong, we’ve started a “therapy fund.”
Al Watts is the President of Daddyshome, Inc. – The National At-Home Dad Network and an at-home dad of 4 children living in west Omaha. Read him Wednesdays on momaha.com.