A Baby and Her Nap - Trust Your Instincts

by Kate on September 20, 2020

A good friend of mine just sent out a Facebook status update in utter panic after her 2.5 year old boy hadn’t napped for the previous 2 days. She was desperate for him to hang on to it and reached out to us moms for help and support. Love that about Facebook!

Well, we all chimed in with nap advice from “grin and bear it” and “let him stay awake” to “baby massage” and “woo woo hocus pocus” to help him keep sleeping. I think she got him to hold on to his nap, albeit a shorter one, but all that different advice got me to thinking about how individual napping is for each kid.

Turns out, I’m not wrong! The New York Times recently posted an article on how napping behavior is not only a complex mix of biology, as one would figure, but also depends on cultural expectations and family dynamics.

So a mom really can ‘expect’ her child back to sleep…good to know!

Actually, not really.

Apparently, since sleep was first studied over 100 years ago, people were measuring their child’s sleep habits, worrying that the little tyke wasn’t getting enough. Isn’t that funny even 100 years ago when there weren’t TVs, computers or all these after school activities, parents were wondering if little Jimmy was sleeping enough?

It’s a fascinating article that, unfortunately, doesn’t answer that basic question: is my child getting enough sleep? It’s too complex and individual to have one set answer. It all depends.


But the experts that The Times interviews do offer some interesting benchmarks against which to compare behavior of a sleepy child or a well rested one. Like does she run on a short fuse? That’s a sleepy child. Well, I say no sh@# Sherlock, of course a sleepy child is gonna scream and cry at the drop of a hat. Of course, well rested ones often do too, so who knows?

Seriously though, the kernel of the story: trust your instincts, eyes and ears.

So, I guess we moms are left to scour our circle of mothers for our own answer, dissecting the wee one’s behavior - her tantrums, her ability to cope with the world - to answer the question for ourselves.

photo: tempophage

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruby T. September 20, 2020 at 7:42 am

I do think the proper amount of sleep, including naps, is so essential for proper body and brain growth. I know there have been studies done that tell us a child’s brain needs sleep to make more synapse connections and using the downtime of sleep for growth.

Now tell that to my little one who just “can’t go to sleep, Mommy.”

Pinchus Rose September 20, 2020 at 9:46 am

Imagine if somebody kept track of how much i slept! I guess I do, reporting to my husband “oh, im so tired, i only slept five hours tonight…”
I think it’s okay to follow babies instinct, the only thing is, we all want them to sleep more, bother us less. Hmm.

Carly September 20, 2020 at 9:32 pm

The whole sleep thing is so hard. Because it is something we all need and it is SO frustrating when we don’t get enough. I dread the day that my 2 and 1/2 year old stops naps. They seriously keep me sane! :)

Kate September 22, 2020 at 6:49 am

@Carly…sane, yes. And working! It’s my work time, like most stay at home moms who have something going on the side to keep in touch with their pre-kid selves.

Kate September 22, 2020 at 6:50 am

@Pinchus - ha! What was that old saying, ‘seen but not heard.’ I don’t agree (really) but I see why people used to say that.

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