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toddler naps

Making sure your toddler gets a daily nap is officially the right thing to do. Here’s our lowdown on why, when and where your toddler needs that sleep.

Why your toddler needs to nap

Apart from the obvious reason – tiredness, grumpiness – there are physical reasons why your little one will benefit from some sleep during the day:

  • Daytime naps help toddlers to grow and develop healthily: research suggests that physical and mental development, which is at its peak in the early years, occurs while a child sleeps, at night and during the day.
  • A nap gives you a break, essential if you’re being woken early by your toddler or getting broken sleep. Take a nap yourself while they’re asleep!

Nap basics

Newborns need 16 to 20 hours’ sleep a day, taken in roughly three-hour chunks, broken by feeds, day and night. But by the time your toddler hits one year plus, things have changed dramatically:

  • Many toddlers are beginning to drop their morning nap for one longer after-lunch snooze of anything from half-an-hour to three hours. You know your toddler; if they sleep for 30 minutes more than usual, it’s probably best to wake them so you can get them to sleep that night.
  • The average total sleep needed by toddlers per day is around 12 to 14 hours split between night-time sleeps and daytime naps.
  • Little ones with siblings may find that their natural routine is interrupted by school runs and trips out, so that they sleep less at night and nap more during the day, or vice versa.
  • A daytime nap won’t affect your toddler’s night-time sleep, so long as they aren’t taking it too late in the day.

Tips to help your toddler nap

  • Try to fix a time for napping each day – straight after lunch is the most popular choice.
  • To get your toddler settled, read a book together and have a cuddle before they go down.
  • Make sure your toddler is clean, warm, fed and cosy, and preferably sleeps in the same place each time – by this stage, their bed is the most obvious place for that daytime nap, though car seats and buggies work when you’re out and about.
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