Why Children Don’t Nap

Cute boy sleeping with toy in kindergarten

As adults, we dream of the day where we can lie down in the middle of the day for a long and cozy nap. Unfortunately, our children don’t always see the value in that precious naptime. Children can go on naptime strikes or be unable to fall asleep even if they want to.

Here are the most common reasons why your child won’t nap, and how to help them get the restful sleep they need.

They May Not Need Naps Anymore

Every child is different. About 30% of children still need naps into Kindergarten, while the majority will stop napping some time before then. There’s no specific age when kids stop napping during the day, but there are a few good guidelines you can use to determine whether your child still needs a nap or not.

  • They still fall asleep in the car
    If your child refuses naps but konks out after a few minutes of soft motion in a car seat, it’s likely they still need naps.
  • They act like they need it
    It’s often transparent whether kids still need a nap or not. If kids get grouchy when they miss their naptime, chances are they still need to.
  • They aren’t tired during nap time

If they don’t act tired during the day, and aren’t tired for naptime, it makes sense that they don’t need one anymore.

They’re Over-Tired

Sometimes, children can get so tired that they can’t sleep. This is due to the release of cortisol in the blood from becoming so tired. When nap time comes around, they may be tired, but unable to sleep due to that cortisol pumping through their blood.

You can help an overtired toddler sleep by removing stimulation, rocking, and reading stories. A screen may help keep them in one place, but isn’t the best idea for sleep due to the blue light that cuts through melatonin.

Relaxing behaviors can help ease cortisol and help your child rest.

They May Be Uncomfortable

Sometimes your child may not be able to nap because they are too uncomfortable. At this age, it’s not always clear what it is that is bothering them. Teething, the beginning of a cold, or developmental triggers like walking or learning to use the potty can all cause them to be unable to nap.

These situations are usually temporary. In this case, it’s best to still try and nap them at the appointed time, even if they are reluctant to do so.

Naps at Daycare

Your daycare can help you establish a nap routine. Have the daycare fill you in on what time nap is at daycare, and see if you can match it at home. When kids see other children resting, they are often more willing to do so since it isn’t just them.

Having them nap at home at the same time can help keep the habit, and may help them sleep since they’ve been napping at that time consistently.

Naps are an important childhood feature and are critical to your child getting enough rest. If your child is preschool or younger, chances are they still need those daily naps to learn and grow.