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The Importance of Naptime and Quiet Time

As parents and caregivers, we regularly steal glances at the clock and count down the minutes until naptime. It’s the break and little bit of peace and quiet that we’ve been waiting for since our day started. And the good news is that naps are a gift to our kids as much as they are a reprieve for us!

The Importance of Naptime and Quiet Time

As parents and caregivers, we regularly steal glances at the clock and count down the minutes until naptime. It’s the break and little bit of peace and quiet that we’ve been waiting for since our day started. And the good news is that naps are a gift to our kids as much as they are a reprieve for us! 

Research has shown that infants and toddlers need sleep and quiet time to support their physical growth and brain development. Do you ever go in after a nap and feel like your child grew? Well, you are probably right: because children actually grow during sleep, you may be noticing an actual growth spurt. And the more your child grows, the more sleep they will need. Protecting this time is therefore critical to their healthy mental and physical development.

When we plan out naps for our kids, we do our best to hold the frame. This means that you plan out your child’s nap schedule based on what’s developmentally appropriate for them and then stick to it, whether or not your child actually naps during that period

For example, let’s say your toddler goes down for a nap from 9:30am-10:30am, and they wake early (or never fall asleep) before the nap is over at 10:30am. If this happens, you should hold the frame and let them have quiet time on their own before going in to get them. Quiet time and sleep are both beneficial as long as your child isn’t in distress. Specifically, quiet time helps them develop focus, imagination, and self-reflection. And it teaches them to engage in solitary play and to enjoy being alone. 

So, give them quiet time for the entire duration of the nap, even if they’ve woken up ahead of schedule. This allows you some extra slow time and your kid some extra grow time

When a child stops sleeping during their usual naptime, we often see parents and caregivers assume that their kid is ready to give up that nap. But it’s important to know that, most of the time, this is just a phase. If you continue to hold the frame, they may start sleeping at that time again, which is a dream come true! With this in mind, don’t nix a nap too soon. Hold the frame, observe your child’s nap habits over a couple of weeks, and then decide to revise the nap schedule if you need to. Nap time and quiet time is too important to shortchange, whether for you or your little one!

If you’d like more information on protecting quiet time and fostering independence, listen to our podcast episode, Encouraging Independent Play & Socialization with Katie Kelley, @katiesittersclub