Young children need more sleep than adults because they grow and develop quickly. To meet their needs, toddlers must sleep during the day.
Naps have many benefits for children. This moment of rest allows their brain to transfer the new information they have just learned to the region of the brain responsible for long-term memory. Several studies have shown that children who take a nap after a new learning activity better retain this new knowledge. The nap also has positive effects on the child’s mood. It decreases the frequency of seizures, anxiety, and hyperactivity. Finally, naps are beneficial for general health by decreasing infections. Indeed, growth hormone is secreted during certain phases of sleep. This increases, among other things, the activity of the immune system.
Does he still need a nap?
The need for rest varies greatly from one child to another. They also change as the children grow up. The need for rest is present until kindergarten, but it is different depending on the children and their age. Some need to sleep an hour or more in the afternoon, while others will be content with a short period of relaxation (eg, lying on a mattress with a quiet game or a book).
Around 4 years old, some children sometimes fall asleep only occasionally. It may also be that the nap then upsets their evening routine at home and delays bedtime. In such a situation, you may be tempted not to put your child to bed in the afternoon.
Before coming to this solution, make sure that:
the nap does not last more than 2 hours and it takes place in the early afternoon (not after 15 hours). Otherwise, it can interfere with evening sleep;
your child does not really need to take a nap, because lack of sleep can make him gloomy and unhappy.
To assess whether your child still needs a nap, you will need to watch him closely. For example, a child who has not taken a nap can be very energetic in the afternoon. Some parents believe that this indicates that the child no longer needs to sleep during the day. However, if he has difficulty returning to calm, it is probably that he still needs a nap in the afternoon. So be attentive to your child to find the best solution that will meet his need for sleep.
Napping at the daycare
The nap period at the daycare can be a difficult time for some children, especially at the beginning of the year. When children change groups, they do not always find the ritual and landmarks they were used to.
Similarly, during integration into a new daycare center, children sometimes become worried at the time of the nap. To be able to indulge in sleep, a child must feel fully confident. In order to help these children, the educator will benefit from introducing a predictable ritual and ensuring a comforting and constant presence at the time of the nap. Even so, some children may continue to move, roll from side to side and make noise, and disturb the whole group.
If you determine that your child is able to have a good day without sleeping after dinner, talk to his or her educator to see if it is possible to change their routine. For example, instead of napping your child, she may ask her to lie down quietly for a while, which will allow other children to fall asleep. Then she could invite him to play table games in silence.