Ask Dr. Marla: Sleep Requirements of Children

By Dr. Marla Shapiro on October 08, 2010

Click here to submit your question for consideration by Dr. Marla.

My three-and-a-half-year old never wants to take a nap, but when I insist, he falls asleep in about 10 minutes and stays down for at least two-and-a-half hours, sometimes longer, if I let him. How much sleep do kids at that age need?

A. Sleep needs can vary quite a bit from child to child. According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, most toddlers between the ages of one to three sleep between 10 and 13 hours in a 24-hour period. Preschoolers from three to five typically sleep about 10 to 12 hours a day. It is not unusual to see children giving up
a nap at this time. From your description, your child may still need a nap but doesn’t know it. Instead of calling it nap time, which he seems to resist, try relaxing with him and reading a book together. If he’s really tired, he might just fall asleep with a lot less fuss. As long as this rest time or nap time is not interfering with his sleep at night, you can continue. Make sure not to have a nap that is too late in the day.

Try reading: Better Sleep for your Baby & Child by Shelly K. Weiss.

Click here to submit your question for consideration by Dr. Marla.

Published in October, 2010.

By Dr. Marla Shapiro| October 08, 2010

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