Naptime in Daycare

What do parents need to know about naptime at daycare? If this is your child’s first experience in a pre-K or equivalent program, discover what you should understand about this important issue.

Is Naptime Really Important for Children In Daycare?

For most children, naptime is an essential part of the day. Even though your child may sleep through the night by the time they enter the toddler years, they still need rest during the day. According to the Sleep Foundation, most three-year-olds and 60 percent of four-year-olds still nap.

The midday rest period can help a toddler or preschooler to get the full amount of sleep that they need in a 24-hour period. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes that toddlers ages one to two need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep and preschoolers ages three through five need 10 to 13 hours of sleep every day (24 hours). These totals include nighttime and daytime sleep periods.

Without enough rest, a young child may seem irritable or exhibit unwanted behaviors. This can make it difficult for the child to cope with the typical daycare day. A child who doesn’t nap or get enough sleep in a 24-hour period may act out, have trouble socially, cry, refuse to participate in activities, or have trouble learning.

Do All Children Nap In Daycare?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors. The first is the center’s policy. Many child care centers schedule regular naptimes or rest periods for toddler and preschool classrooms. The specific number of naptime periods will depend on the age of the children (younger children may need an additional naptime) and how many hours the children attend care. A half-day preschool class for older four-year-olds may not have a naptime, while a full-day program could.

Even though many centers have a designated napping period, some toddlers and preschools do not like to sleep during the day. Again, most children in these age groups still nap. But this doesn’t mean that all do. Whether this is a once-in-a-while issue or the child is ready to completely give up naps, reluctance to rest during naptime is a challenge at daycare.

What Happens If Your Child Won’t Nap At Daycare?

This is a common issue that many children and parents face at some point in the toddler or preschool years. If your child’s teacher tells you that your toddler or preschooler refuses to nap, you can:

  • Evaluate your child’s overall sleep number. How many hours of sleep does your child get per night? If your four-year-old already gets a full 13 hours, they may not need the extra rest.
  • Consider other issues. Did something change in your child’s life recently? A transition can disrupt your child’s regular schedule or cause stress. Both of these can interfere with a toddler’s or preschooler’s willingness and ability to nap.
  • Work on adjusting your child’s schedule. Do school and home naptimes match? If your child typically naps at noon, but the daycare’s rest period is in the middle of the afternoon, you may need to adjust your child’s overall sleep schedule.
  • Send a cherished item to school. A blanket or well-loved stuffed animal may help your child to feel more comfortable napping at daycare. Always ask the teacher before you send in this item.
  • Ask about quiet time. If your child absolutely refuses to nap, ask the center if your child can have a rest or quiet period. Instead of sleeping, your child can relax on their mat or engage in a quiet activity (such as looking at books or coloring).
  • Talk to your child’s teachers about naptime issues. This can reduce frustration and help you to better understand or look for potential problems.

Is your child ready to start daycare? Contact Country Kids Academy for more information.

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