The toddler nap is sacred in most parents' lives. Without it, caretakers miss out on their most precious moments of alone time to rest or get tasks completed. On top of that, when toddlers don't nap, they often turn into inconsolable and/or hyperactive little beings. So, it's only logical to consider the best time for toddler naps so kids can get optimal rest and parents can get their most efficient use of time.
Creating the best schedule for both you and your child can take some trial and error. When your toddler hits a regression phase, it can be especially difficult to find ways to adapt and deal with sleep regression. In learning about times that work best for different toddler ages, it can help you maneuver through the infamous nap struggle a little easier.
According to Parents, at the ages of 1 and 2, a toddler is supposed to get 12 hours of sleep within one day, including bedtime. That time will decrease to around 11 hours by the ages of 3 and 4. It's fairly normal for younger toddlers to have a small nap in the morning and a long nap in the afternoon. Between the ages of 1 and 3, however, the morning nap generally goes away, according to information Children's Health Center of Mercy Family Care Director Charles Shubin shared with Web MD. That's OK, and Shubin encourages parents let the morning nap phase out naturally. Whether your toddler is taking two naps or down to one, you can still use their signs of sleepiness and time of day to your advantage.
In the aforementioned Web MD article, Shubin said that it's important to stay in tune with your kids' signs that they're ready for a nap. Things like fussiness, lots of crying, rubbing the eyes, or even fidgeting to stay awake can all alert you to when your toddler may be getting sleepy during the day. Ignoring these cues can often mean that you're missing a prime time to get your little one down for a nap.
Additionally, the aforementioned Parents article shared that a morning nap is best kept under one hour at around 9:30 a.m. (considering your toddler's awake a couple hours prior to nap time). When the morning nap starts to fade away, it's still a good idea to designate the time for quiet activities and rest.
The best time, in general, for the big afternoon nap is after lunch between 1 and 2 p.m. (or early afternoon), according to Baby Center. It's best that the afternoon nap doesn't go past 4 p.m. because it could start to interfere with bedtime.
Overall, napping is an important part of growth and development for young kids and sanity for parents, especially with toddlers. Making sure your little one is getting one or two good hours of sleep during the day is key to a happier toddler and smoother sailing in general.