Your child may be ready to lose his snooze. But are you?
Kelly Sturtevant tried everything to get daughter Keira to nap. She’d lie with her, read another story, sing yet another song. But the rambunctious 2½-year-old refused to nod off. “I would spend the entire time running up trying to get her to fall asleep or yelling at her for getting out of bed,” said the 32-year-old Calgary mom of two. “After two hours, I was so flustered that I spent the rest of the day just angry that she hadn’t slept.”
Naps serve a key function for young kids. “Sleep is important for learning, memory and growth,” says Alyson Shaw, a paediatric consultant at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa. But let’s be frank: That’s not why parents lament the day when kids outgrow naps. “Working parents, they get lunch, they get coffee breaks,” says Sturtevant. “Stay-at-home moms, we get nap time.” Sadly, not forever. Here’s how to cope when it’s time to lose the snooze.
Don’t be a slave to the calendar
While most children give up naps between ages three and five, it can be normal for kids as young as two to stop, while 10 to 12 percent of children still nap at age five, according to Manisha Witmans, director of the pediatric sleep program at Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Expect some inconsistency during the transition. “It might be for a few weeks they’re only napping three out of seven days, and then it might be two out of seven days,” she said.
Know when to keep the sleep
If your child skips a nap, then nods off on late-afternoon walks or drives, she probably still needs her rest. Shaw suggests waking her by 4 p.m. so as not to sabotage bedtime. Monitor how your child handles days without a snooze: “If she’s cantankerous and unmanageable, then probably the nap is still needed,” says Witmans.