5 Benefits of Naps for Babies and Toddlers

We all love a good nap, but rarely have time for it. However, in a toddler’s busy little world, naps are more important. In fact, they’re almost a must. Not only are they beneficial for your child, they also give you as the parent or other caregivers a much needed break.

KidsHealth.org explains that early childhood is a crucial time for your child’s development, and that naps “provide much-needed downtime for growth and rejuvenation.” In fact, it notes infants up to 6-months old need up to 20-hours of sleep per day, so naptime is an important factor in reaching that total. Here are 5 ways putting children down for a nap is good for them—and you!


1. Naps Aid in Emotional Development

An article in Parenting magazine notes that toddlers who don’t get daytime rest can show more signs of anxiety and decreased cognitive abilities (such as problem-solving). The PsychCentral.com study that uncovered this finding said it “shows insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings” and can create lifelong mood disorders.

The study focused on sleep-deprived toddlers, and also tested the same children after having a nap. It found a 34-percent decrease in “positive emotional responses” among the tired toddlers compared to after getting some shuteye.

Baby Sleeping

2. Sleep Helps Preschoolers Learn

According to a National Institutes of Health study, encouraging preschool-aged children to rest in the classroom can enhance their learning and memory.

The findings were determined by teaching 40 preschool children a memory game. In short, the preschoolers who had a nap of just over an hour on average 10-percent more items than those who were kept awake. This positive effect of the nap reigned true even during a test the next morning, added the study.

reading to baby

3. Daytime Rest means Better Nighttime Rest

Napping during the day for adults can throw our sleep patterns out of whack and cause insomnia in some cases (other times we just need a nap, period). However, lack of a nap for toddlers can actually make it harder for them to get quality sleep at night.

KidsHealth.org said a lack of daytime downtime could make your toddler overtired and irritable, and also make it tougher to get them down for a longer sleep at night. Overtired kids can also lead to overtired parents.

baby in crib

4. Rest Gives your Child Needed Downtime

We all cherish our “me time”. It gives us time to ourselves without distractions, where we can soak in a tub or catch up on a good book or just sip some coffee. The same is true for kids—as parents we sometimes overschedule their day as they get older, taking away their time to enjoy their own company.

A Parenting magazine article explains that downtime after preschool for kids might be as important as downtime is for you after work. It also gives the child some time to develop their own imagination and take away some of their stress. However, helping your child remain active in a smart way while giving them downtime will help some from developing childhood obesity, added the article.

baby boy

5. Tired can lead to Tantrums

There’s nothing worse than your toddler rolling around crying on the floor of the department store because they didn’t get the toy they wanted. Well, this kind of behavior can be caused by lack of sleep, according to Livestrong.com.

Your child’s ability to interact with other toddler can partly be attributed to how much sleep they’re getting, according to the article. It notes that toddlers who are accustomed to regular naps can be more irritable and more prone to tantrums if they miss just one nap.

crying child

Jeff Hayward

Jeff Hayward

Jeff has more than 15 years of experience writing professionally about health, travel and the arts among other subjects. He continuously looks to improve his own overall health through exercise, diet and mindfulness. He is also a proud stay-at-home dad that loves taking photographs both professionally and as a hobby.