Research says we should stop daytime naps when children turn two (yes, really)
Confession: My three-year old still naps during the day on the weekends – and I LOVE IT.
During the week, he no longer sleeps during the day when he is in creche, he is simply too busy playing, but come the weekend, when we are out and about, he often nods off in the back of the car. Or in his buggy, which I still bring with me if we are going anywhere that involves a lot of walking or big crowds, as he is much easier to keep tabs on when I can strap him into his Bugaboo.
And, to be honest, I love his weekend napping. Love it. It means that not only is he far less crazy come the afternoon having had a little power nap, but it also often means that I get to enjoy some much needed one-on-one time with my big-girl, sans attention demanding little bro constantly clambering all over us. Win-win, if you ask me.
But now some research has claimed that once your child turns two, you need to pull the plug on the naps.
I can practically here parents all over the world screaming: "WHAT?! When else I am going to get the dinner made/bills paid/clothes hung/adult conversation had?!"
And I feel you, I really do, but here is what the researchers had to say: "Napping after the age of two could be impacting the quality of sleep your child is getting at night – which in turn can affect things like behaviour, cognition and physical health."
And then the scientists went on to link this poorer sleep quality with all sorts of health and behavioural issues like developmental delays, obesity and emotional problems later down the track.
Professor Karen Thorpe and her team of researchers at the Queensland University of Technology looked into nap protocols of childcare centres and whether or not the children really needed those naps in the first place. What they found, was that after the age of two, children were able to self-regulate their need for naps, therefore forcing them to sleep during the day could affect valuable night time sleep.
“Parents should not assume that day sleep and night sleep are the same and therefore by giving them a nap they’re getting more sleep, because that doesn’t happen,” Professor Thorpe says.
“Once they no longer biologically need sleep during the day all you’re doing by making them nap is subtracting from night sleep because you disrupt it.”