Skip to main content

When your child should stop taking naps

Napping can provide respite to a tired child who needs an energy boost during the day. But napping too much can cause problems sleeping at night. When should children stop taking naps? And what happens if they nap too much or too little? We have all the answers here.

Young girl sitting up in bed
Natalia Belay/

When do most children stop napping? Do older children benefit from naps?

Although there isn’t a hard and fast rule, as toddlers turn to preschoolers and beyond, they’ll only need one nap a day instead of two. There are a few telltale signs to look for that signal your child is outgrowing naps. If your child takes a long time to fall asleep before a nap or at night, or if they are interested in skipping naps, they are probably ready to take fewer naps. If they aren’t tired, don’t try to force them to sleep. Note that even if a nap is skipped, the total number of hours a child needs to sleep in a day is not changed, and they may need to go to bed earlier or wake up later.

In their first year of life, a child will typically go from taking five or more naps in a day to just two. Then, by the time they are 2, most children will only take one a nap a day. Don’t cut out naps altogether before the age of 4 or 5, though! Naps are important to any young person’s development. Do naps have to be stopped completely once children reach a certain age?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children ages 6 to 12 get nine to 12 hours of sleep per night, while those who are ages 13 to 18 need eight to 10 hours. Nationally, about 65% of middle and high schoolers don’t get the suggested amount of sleep daily. If children are to start school at 7:30 a.m. and get on a bus at 6:45 a.m., assuming it takes them a half hour to get ready, they would need to go to bed around 10:00 p.m. each night to get enough sleep. This isn’t very realistic when they get home at 3:30 in the absence of extracurriculars, then have homework and dinner to complete the day.

In preteens and teenagers, a sleep phase delay is common, meaning their biological clocks feel the need to sleep and wake up later than normal. Paired with early start times, most current American school schedules contribute to many students getting inadequate sleep. When school start times are moved to 8:30 a.m. or later, teens earn higher grades and attend school more. Legislation has previously been introduced to encourage the Department of Education to conduct more research into school start times and teen-sleep hygiene.

What can happen if a child doesn’t get enough sleep during the day?

Insufficient sleep in younger children is infamously linked to their irritability. But a lack of sleep can cause much more serious problems than just a bad mood. In both children and adolescents, a lack of sleep increases the risk of many health problems, including obesity, diabetes, accidental injuries, poor mental health (including suicide), and attention and behavioral problems.

How can I be sure my child gets restful sleep?

Young boy lying in bed with Teddy bear
Milos Vucicevic/

There are a few steps you can take to make sure your child gets better sleep throughout the day. First of all, make sure a child has a cool, quiet, dark sleeping environment. Maintain similar bedtimes, bedtime routines, and wake-up times from day to day. Observing your toddler’s daily routine will help your child learn when it’s the right time to sleep. Children with set bedtimes are more likely to get adequate sleep on any given day. Limit a child’s exposure to food (especially sugary or caffeinated things) and screens for at least an hour before bedtime. Perhaps implement a media curfew, where you set a daily time for all devices to be powered off.

Sleeping is a favorite part of many people’s days. And why wouldn’t it be? You might envy how much your toddler gets to sleep, and to ensure you stay envious, help them get enough sleep throughout the day and at night. Setting kids up with healthy sleep routines early in life can help them later on.

Editors' Recommendations

Why children have trouble making the ‘R’ sound, and when to call a therapist
How to tell if your child needs a speech therapist
Parent and child practicing speech

Learning to talk and communicate is an exciting time for toddlers and their parents, and it can be incredibly sweet to see how your little one's speech advances over time. Anyone who has spent any time around little kids knows that it's common for them to say "twuck" instead of "truck" and to struggle with other words that involve making that "R" sound.

But what is it about the "R" sound that makes it so challenging? And how do you know whether this common speech issue will resolve itself, or if you need to seek help from a professional?

Read more
When should babies start wearing shoes?
How can you resist a cute pair of baby shoes, but do babies need to wear them?
Child wearing baby shoes outside

Everything about baby clothes is simply adorable. Who doesn't smile at seeing those cute little outfits? One part of a baby's wardrobe that really gets the happiness meter up is the shoes. Few things are more endearing than a pair of baby shoes. They can certainly serve to accessorize a mini fashionista or a stylin' stud muffin's ensemble. Besides being wonderfully charming, baby shoes also have an important function. Baby shoes protect little ones' precious toes while helping them on the journey to independence and mobility.

The decision of whether to buy the adorable shoes you just have to buy for baby does come with some questions. When should you buy baby shoes for your cutie? When should babies wear shoes? Should babies wear shoes when learning to walk or is bare feet better? Let's take our shoes off and find out.

Read more
Why you need baby earmuffs to protect your child from noise
No need to miss out on loud events with baby earmuffs
Baby with noise-canceling headphones

Loud noises can be annoying for most people, but for a baby, loud noises can negatively impact their hearing. Noisy environments can be more than just scary to your little one. The alarming fact is that long-term or even short periods of exposure to especially loud sounds can damage your newborn, infant, or toddler's sensitive inner ear — potentially leading to noise-induced hearing loss.

Unfortunately, severe damage to the hearing nerve is irreversible. If you suspect your young child may have some hearing loss, you will want to ask a doctor or specialist to perform tests. To help prevent hearing loss, you'll want to do everything you can to keep their ears healthy and safe, like getting a pair of baby earmuffs for your little one. Headphones for infants can actually give little ones the protective benefits of noise reduction. Want to know when to slap a pair on your peanut? Read on for all the important tips and info.

Read more