Science Daily has an article about a study with a notable conclusion: if your toddler, when he is two years old, is still napping during the day — that’s probably because he’s sleeping badly. As the article summarizes,
They found consistent, if not particularly high quality, evidence indicating that napping beyond the age of 2 lengthens the amount of time it takes for a child to fall asleep (sleep onset) and shortens the overall amount of night-time sleep s/he has.
The academics emphasized in the paper,
The impact of night sleep on children’s development and health is increasingly documented, but to date there is not sufficient evidence to indicate the value of prolonging napping, whether at home or in childcare contexts, once sleep has consolidated into night,” write the researchers.
Conclusion: sleep is important for a child’s — and an adult’s — health. And we’re only now learning how important it is. We must watch out to make sure that, once our children are two years old, they’re sleeping soundly at night. If only I, at 39, could sleep so soundly, too!
Of course, this leaves open the bigger question: if your child isn’t sleeping well, what should you do? We tend to focus on this problem when the baby is under 1 year old, but less so between 1 and 2. The best known solutions are what we always recommend and you’ve probably heard hundreds of times: repeated sleep rituals at consistent times, and so forth — and don’t forget our favorite scientific recommendation to help the baby go to sleep: no sugar near bedtime. (It hyper-stimulates children and is one of the most common causes of kids not being able to fall asleep at the appropriate time.)