The Importance of Nap Time

Daytime naps are really important up until age three (or even four). But getting a lively toddler to settle down and rest can be hard work!. Toddlebox sleep expert Lucy Wolfe says it’s never too late to get into good napping habits…


Time to recharge. Up to 80% of three year olds need daytime sleep. When your toddler naps, their brain creates enough energy to last them the rest of the day.

Toddlers’ brains are like batteries in toys: they need regular recharging!

Too tired? The word ‘overtired’ could have been made for toddlers! Their young bodies have a chemical response to being too tired. This means that instead of sleeping easily and longer, their body will fight sleep and may not sleep as long as they need. Overtired toddlers are more likely to wake at night or too early in the morning. A toddler who is overtired in the evening may not eat a big enough meal, which can also lead to waking at night from hunger. A toddler who struggles to sleep alone at night can find it hard to nap well during the day. They may also be tired because of their disturbed night’s sleep.


Between the ages one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half, your toddler may need a one-to-two hour nap during the day. As they get older, this shrinks to one-and-a-half, and then to one hour. You may find in time that they don’t need to nap every day, but maybe every other day. Be careful though – cutting back on daytime sleep to help improve nighttime sleep rarely works!

The best time to start a nap is as close to 12.30-1pm as possible. If they nap too early, they can get overtired by nighttime. Give them lunch before the nap. This stops them waking up early because of hunger, and they will be ready to enjoy a good evening meal! If your toddler resists daytime naps or your bedtime battles increase when they’ve had a good nap, they still do need to sleep during the day. In this case, the nap and the bedtime may not be at the right time. If you’re finding bedtime a struggle, Winning the Bedtime Battles has all the tips you need!


For sleep to be of good quality, it needs to be at the right time. Time the nap right and it will go much more smoothly. Watch your toddler to spot the clues that they are getting tired. It could be a little yawn, a rub of the eye or a quiet moment. Intense eye rubbing, upset, impatience and crankiness are all signs of over-tiredness. What’s their mood like in the evening? If your toddler is difficult to deal with between 5-7pm, it might mean they need more sleep during the day, or that you should change the time of the nap.


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