Child naps are no longer necessary after the age of 2. This is the key finding of a new study from the University of Technology in Australia.
The study’s lead author, Karen Thorpe, also a professor in development science at the university, explained to SFGate that “evidence suggests that beyond the age of 2 years, when cessation of napping becomes more common, daytime sleep is associated with shorter and more disrupted night sleep.”
Furthermore, daytime sleep “is not a response to poor night sleep, but rather precedes poor night sleep.” In other words, the more your child naps moving forward, the worse they will sleep at night.
The study was first published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Thorpe and her team of researchers “combed through a large body of literature on children’s sleep and narrowed their focus to 26 studies,” SFGate adds, noting that their purpose was to “assess evidence regarding the effects of napping on measures of child development and health.”
Children ages 0 to 5 were the primary subjects, and from what the group was able to determine, “regimented naps after age 2 often led to less restful sleep at night.”
So even if your child seems to be sleeping for long periods of time, the sleep they’re getting may not be the healthy kind, complete with lots of tossing and turning.
Blogger Amy Graff, a mother of three herself, advised paying attention to the findings but following your child’s lead when it comes to what is best.
“My first child started fighting naps at around age 2 and I remember feeling frustrated as my daughter refused to get the sleep the books and experts deemed crucial for her well-being… My middle child, my son, was under the spell of Hypnos and drifted off into the Land of Nod any chance he got… My third is approaching age 2 and a good napper and nighttime sleeper.”
While Graff noted that the study would not persuade her to cut out child naps entirely for her 2-year-old, “on those busy weekends when we’re running around to swim meets and violin performances with her older sister and brother, I will feel less guilty when we can’t find time squeeze in nap time.”
What do you think, parents? Is it best to “follow your child’s lead” on whether a nap is essential or should you weed out child naps as soon as possible? Share your thoughts in our comments section.
[Photo by Michael Webb / Stringer / Getty Images]