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Toddler naps and poor night sleeps

Do day naps affect your toddler’s bedtime? The simple answer is yes.

An article on Care for Kids shows that new research from the Queensland University of Technology supports the claims of parents that day naps can be the worst! Research demonstrates that children beyond the age of two may be poorer sleepers at night if allowed to sleep during the day.

The study, led by Professor Karen Thorpe from QUT’s Faculty of Health and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), reviewed 26 international and Australian studies relating to children under five and found there was overwhelming evidence of unnecessary napping.

Professor Thorpe said it was widely acknowledged within the early childhood sector that napping in pre-school children promoted growth. But she said the research had shown it instead had a negative impact on night sleep patterns of children aged two and over.

“There is consistent high quality data that indicates napping beyond the age of two lengthens the amount of time it takes for a child to fall asleep,” she said.

The study also investigated the development and health outcomes of children’s sleep in relation to cognition, behaviour, salivary cortisol, obesity and accidents.

But Professor Thorpe said the most consistent finding was the link between daytime napping and poorer quality nighttime sleep among children.

What Tizzie says

I do agree with this, we know sleeps and naps in this age group affect how well or long a toddler sleeps at night. However, I still think the day sleep or nap is needed for a large number of toddlers in this age group.

So we need to take into account the fact that a sleep or nap too early in the day can lead to early rising the next day. And if a sleep that is too long can lead to night waking.

From age two it needs to be no more than 2 hours and by the age of three an hour.

Also if the wake up time from this nap or sleep is too close to the 7 pm bedtime it may mean your toddler has a long time chatting in bed before they settle for the night while this is not perfect they are still resting and you are still getting a break in the day, for families with a baby in the house or for a pregnant mum the break in the day might be needed more than a fast settle at 7 pm.

Each family has to do what works for them and their child. If your child is at day-care and their sleeps during the day are having a negative effect on the night time sleeps or the wake-up time the next day, talk to your child’s centre or carers and change the routine at care. They are always happy to help.

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