Q. My husband and I are both working parents. On the days we work, our 3- year-old daughter will nap for 2 hours at daycare. But then she’s not sleepy in the evenings and will stay awake until 10 p.m. She wakes up at 7:30 a.m. How much sleep does a 3 year-old need? Does she still need a nap?
The average 3-year-old child requires 11-13 hours of sleep per day. Some three-year olds, however, may need up to 14 hours of sleep. Your daughter is getting about 11.5 hours of sleep per day, which is on the lower end of the spectrum. Therefore, it is important to preserve the hours she’s getting.
At age 3, 75 percent of children still take naps. This number drops 25 percent by age four.
Many toddlers do not have the stamina to remain awake for an extended period of time. To determine whether a child is ready to “give-up” the afternoon nap, parents should consider the following:
If your child misses her nap, is she still happy and playful
If your child lays down at naptime, does she fall asleep or play?
Does your child frequently fall asleep in the car?
Does she become cranky after missing the afternoon nap?
In this specific case, talk with the daycare teacher. Your child may be more tired in such an active environment compared to home. In the meantime, you could also try the following:
Start the bedtime routine a little earlier on weeknights.
Ask the daycare to shorten the naps to one hour if your daughter has gotten an adequate amount of sleep the night prior.
Try to keep the same schedule on weekends as weekdays.
If you are not seeing an improvement in her sleep schedule, consider seeking advice from your child’s healthcare provider or a behavioral specialist.