Parent Question: My three-and-three-fourths-year-old doesn’t want to nap. It takes her time to fall asleep when she does nap, both at bed time and naptime. When she does nap, I would say that, on a 24 hour period, she sleeps 10-12 hours. How much sleep should she be getting in a 24 hour period? How long should her naps be at this age and moving forward? Any suggestions for those days (especially with the holidays around the corner) when she stays up late at night and still wakes up early the next day? Thank you!
Answer: 10-12 hours in the 24 hour cycle is the goal now thru late elementary school. Significantly less than 10 can be problematic, and eight is a low minimum. If it were my house, we would be transitioning to ‘quiet time.’ An hour everyday of playing quietly in their bed which you respect like a nap – same time, same length everyday. You can say, “you don’t have to sleep, just stay in bed and stay quiet.” I would give a quiet activity or book after the first 20 mins or so. If you provide this religiously, the idea is they are still resting, and if they need to should fall asleep. If she naps, think 60 to 90 minutes which is probably plenty. You don’t want it to vary widely from day to day. On really crazy holiday days, plan quiet breaks in the day. Maybe spend 30 minutes in the afternoon snuggling and reading a chapter book or time listening to quiet music.
Sincerely, Dr. Rene