Who's ready for a nap??
How do you find the balance, and how do you know when your kid is ready to give them up?
Dr. Fahd Al-Alou at the Tuscany Children Clinic in Yuma shared that a child’s general increase in happiness and activity level can be a good indicator that children are ready to stop taking regular naps.
“Usually you can tell be a child’s approach in happiness if they are getting enough sleep,” he said. “If they are happy and active and they’re not too cranky, that’s a good sign that they’re receiving the amount of sleep that their body needs.”
Al-Alou said that usually age four is when he recommends that children stop taking regular daily naps.
He shared that naps taken on the weekends or during vacations for children up through their teenage years can also have an effect on their nightly sleeping habits as well, he said.
“It’s going to take the place of some of the time that they’re going to need to sleep at night,” he said. “If they take one hour of sleep in the afternoon, they should go to bed an hour later.”
While naps every once in a while are acceptable for school age children, Al-Alou said that children shouldn’t make a habit of it or they will begin to become tired during the middle of the day, when they should be concentrating on things like school.
Sleeping in on the weekends, for example, can also have an impact on students when they have to wake up early at the beginning of the week for school, he said.
“If possible, they should stick with the same schedule on the weekends, that will be the best thing,” said Al-Alou.
For children under the age of four, however, Al-Alou explained that naps are important at that age and most children have their own tell tale signs of when they are ready to go down for a nap.
When a child begins to get drowsy and sleepy, that is the time they should be taken to their crib for a nap, he said, not after they are already asleep. He noted that if a child wakes up on the trip to their room and begins to get excited again and have more energy, they won’t want to go down for a nap.
Signs a child is getting sleepy could include decreased activity, loss of interest in favorite toys and games, or starting to become fussy and cranky.
“Children have their own way of falling asleep, a yawn, their eyes look tired, some might play with their hair, go to their favorite spot and just sit there and doing nothing, this is the time when they should be taken to their crib and parents should be there for a few minutes and watch them to sleep. Use this approach and hopefully they will not have any problems whatsoever,” he said. “I know sometimes this is easier said than done.”
Al-Alou noted that the importance of a child falling asleep in the crib versus other places like the couch or a car seat is that the child gets used to the crib and has an easier time falling asleep there.
Being taken to a crib before they fall asleep is also a good idea because then children will fall asleep in the same environment that they go to sleep in to prevent them from getting scared when they wake up.
Also, getting up and consoling a child is actually the wrong thing to do, he said. Often times, parents should wait a few minutes to see if their child goes back to sleep. If not, they can go in to the child’s room for about one to two minutes until they fall asleep. If this doesn’t happen, when they come back in the room they should stay double the time with the child until they fall asleep.
“Never pick him up out of his crib because that’s going to always be a pattern that he/she has to do,” he said. “Usually it takes them about a week to get into that rhythm. A lot of times when they wake up, children just want that assurance that their parents are still around… Especially for toddlers because these are the ones who seek reassurance - they want to be independent -- but at the same time they want to make sure their parents are there watching them.”
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.