If there’s one thing every parent can relate to, it’s getting your child to nap. Even if you consider your child a great sleeper, at some point, they will struggle to nap. When a child misses their nap, it can make them overtired, which only perpetuates the sleeping problem.
So how can you make it easier for your child to nap every day? Keep reading for age-specific tips!
Why Do Children Need Naps?
Babies and young children are learning about their bodies and the world around them every moment of every day. Quite literally, every day they are learning something new!
Humans process new information and store memories during sleep. Because young children are constantly experiencing and learning new things, they need extra sleep to integrate and remember them.
How Much Should My Child Sleep?
Babies, toddlers, and young children all benefit from naps throughout the day. How many naps or how long they nap for depends on their age.
- Newborns (0 to 3 months) need 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day. They take about four to six naps a day for about 30 minutes to two hours at a time.
- Babies (4 to 12 months) need 12 to 16 hours of sleep per day. Babies sleep for longer stretches at night. At 6 months, babies usually drop to two naps: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
- Toddlers (1 to 2 years) need 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day. Before the 18-month-mark, toddlers still take two naps. However, around 18 months they transition to one longer, afternoon nap.
- Preschoolers: (3 to 5 years) need 10 to 13 hours hours of sleep per day. Some children stop napping between 3 and 4 years old, but others will still nap regularly until age 5.
- School-aged children (6 to 12 years) need 9 to 12 hours of sleep per day. By the age of 6, children no longer need to take a nap, getting all their sleep at night.
Tips for Helping Your Child Sleep
While every child is different, some general principles will help every child nap, no matter their age.
While you might think that an exhausted child will sleep longer, this is simply not true. Exhausted, overtired children are in overdrive and will use this cranky energy to fight sleep. If your child isn’t getting the recommended hours of sleep (listed in the section above), then it’s likely that they’re fighting sleep because they’re overtired.
You can overcome overtiredness by setting firm boundaries on bedtime and nap time. It takes consistency, but setting a firm bedtime and nap time every day will help your child regain their lost sleep and settle into an ideal routine.
Time It Right
Children have natural wake and sleep windows, and taking advantage of when they’re naturally sleepy will make it much easier to get them to nap. Take note of when your child starts slowing down: choosing quieter toys, reading books, zoning out, or being easily irritable.
Babies and toddlers who take morning and afternoon naps will generally need a nap about two hours after waking up. Children this age should take a 1.5-2-hour nap in the morning and afternoon.
Toddlers and young children who only take an afternoon nap generally do best with their nap about a half hour to an hour after their midday meal. This is because the short-term energy from their food has worn off. Children this age can take a nap from 1-3 hours, depending on how many hours they sleep at night.
It’s tempting to not require your child to nap every day, but there are a few problems with inconsistency.
First, your child will slowly build up a sleep deficit that will result in them being overtired. As seen above, overtiredness comes with its own set of challenges. Secondly, children thrive on consistency. If they never know when they need to take a nap, it’s easy for them to resist in various ways.
An added benefit of consistency is the parents and caregivers have predictable times throughout the day to rest or accomplish tasks.
Use Sleepytime Tech
There are plenty of excellent assistive tech devices that can help your child sleep. For instance, a simple noise machine that plays soothing sounds like the ocean, rain, or other white noise can help lull your child to sleep. Another smart device is to invest in a clock (like this one) that glows when nap time is over.
As children get older and transition away from sleeping every day, they may benefit from listening to a story in their bed. If they fall asleep, then they are tired enough, and if not, they at least get some rest.
Getting your child to nap can be a challenge! But the most important thing is to be consistent with a daily routine to avoid sleep deficits and tantrums.
If you’re looking to give your child a head start in school, contact Children’s Academy Childcare and Preschool today!
Every parent can relate to the frustration of their child frequently asking for a snack. Sometimes, it seems like kids want snacks every few minutes!
While it’s easy enough to provide packaged snacks or easy fruits like apples and bananas, this can get expensive quickly!
Plus, the ingredients and additives in many packaged snacks can make your child’s food cravings worse.
Dyes like Red #40, Yellow #5, and Blue #1 are found in many packaged snacks, especially those marketed to children because their vibrance is attractive. But these dyes are detrimental to human health: they are carcinogenic and are linked to behavior problems, ADD/ADHD, and so much more.
Other ingredients like sugar (and their lesser-known names like high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, etc.), seed oils, preservatives, artificial flavorings, and more, can have negative effects on childhood development, increase the risk of obesity, and more.
What Makes a Good Snack?
There’s a lot of health and diet advice out there! But basic science concepts can be applied to choosing a healthy snack.
We all know that sweet things–sugar and sweeteners, but also substances our bodies process as sugar like wheat and dairy–spike our blood sugar. We get that burst of energy and feel alert and in a good mood, but it’s only a matter of time before we feel sluggish and cranky again.
This blood sugar roller coaster happens when there isn’t a healthy fat to slow the absorption of sweeteners. Not all fat is bad, and when healthy fats are eaten in moderation, are actually very beneficial. They keep you full for longer, so you actually eat less–which is good for your budget and waistline!
Not to mention, children need healthy fats to grow strong minds and bodies!
A good snack for children will combine something yummy and fun with a healthy fat or protein to slow the absorption and keep your child full for longer.
Here are some fun, yummy, and healthy snacks that your kids will love!
While beans in a sweet dip may seem like a bad mashup, don’t pass this recipe over before trying it!
This healthy dip can be served with a variety of sweet and salty dippers like fruit slices, pretzels, or crackers. The protein in the garbanzo beans or chickpeas slows down the sugar in the honey (or fruit dippers) so your child stays full for longer. Just blend these ingredients well:
- 1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans or chickpeas
- 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1/4 cup baking cocoa
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Yogurt Fruit Cups
Sweetened yogurt and fruit is a classic snack combination and irresistible for children and adults alike. The protein and healthy fat in the yogurt keep tummies full for longer than fruit alone. Plus, this snack is simple to prep and store a week’s worth of yogurt cups in your fridge for a super easy and delicious snack!
- 4 cups cut-up fresh fruit or berries
- 3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup granola (optional)
Evenly distribute the fruit amongst five single-serving cups. Spoon the yogurt evenly over the fruit. If using, portion granola into snack baggies to keep fresh until consumption. Keep refrigerated.
Peanut Butter Date Energy Balls
These energy balls are the perfect size for little hands that taste like a cookie without giving your child the sugar crash of a sugar-sweetened snack.
- 1 cup dates, pitted
- 2/3 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/3 cup oats, quick-cooking or rolled
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, dairy-free if needed
Soak the dates in warm water for about 10 minutes. Drain the dates and blend them in a food processor. Once smooth, add the peanut butter, oats, vanilla, and chia seeds. Blend until the consistency is firm but pliable enough to roll into a ball. Add more oats if the batter is too sticky, or add more peanut butter if it is too dry.
Add the chocolate chips and mix with a spoon. Portion batter into 1 tbsp balls and store in a container in the refrigerator.
Frozen Yogurt Bark
If your kid is always wanting ice cream or popsicles, try swapping out this frozen yogurt bark instead. It gives your child the same enjoyment of a sweet frozen treat without the sugar and artificial flavors.
- 2 cups vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 1 cup granola
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the yogurt evenly on a baking sheet. Then sprinkle the berries and granola evenly onto the yogurt. Freeze for at least 3 hours, or until firm. Break into pieces and keep frozen until serving.
Growing children need to snack throughout the day to meet their dietary and energy needs. It’s your job as a parent to choose snacks that keep them healthy.
If you’re looking to give your child a head start in school, contact Children’s Academy Childcare and Preschool today!
Whether you’re a parent or pediatrician, there are many opinions on what age is best for a child to begin attending daycare. Some believe the earlier, the better, so there’s less separation anxiety. Others believe that sending the child to daycare when he is older allows for proper parental bonding.
There are a dozen other factors to consider, as well, such as the child’s immune system, social tendencies, and the parent’s work schedule. Some parents must go back to work six weeks after delivering a baby, while others can wait a few years and easily resume their occupation.
While there’s no right or wrong answer, most pediatricians recommend children attend daycare beginning around one year old.
The Best Age to Start Daycare
Many pediatricians recommend children start daycare around age one. There are several reasons for this:
Babies younger than one year have a developing immune system. Letting your infant’s immune system mature before enrolling them in daycare would help them stay well.
12 months could be the sweet spot for enrolling your child in daycare because it allows parental-child bonding but the child isn’t old enough to experience severe separation anxiety during drop off.
One study noted that children enrolled in daycare at 12 months behaved better than their peers who stayed home. This is because children at this age are budding socially and have ample opportunity to learn important social skills, such as sharing toys, playing with friends, and communicating with baby sign language. Babies who don’t have regular peer interaction miss out on opportunities to grow and integrate these social skills.
The Earliest Age to Start Daycare
Studies show there are benefits to enrolling a child younger than 12 months. Children enrolled at six months have better cognitive and social skills than peers who stay at home.
Children’s Academy Childcare enrolls infants as young as six weeks. We ensure quality care for these precious little ones and give them the care and attention they need to grow and thrive.
The Worst Age to Enroll in Daycare
Knowing the best age to start daycare begs the question: is there a bad age to enroll in daycare?
Generally speaking, children aged three and four have the hardest time transitioning to daycare, especially if they’ve exclusively stayed home with a parent and not had other forms of childcare (like a relative or friend watching them part-time, or an early preschool program).
This age is the hardest because children are used to spending all their time with their parents. Such a drastic change in routine can cause a lot of anxiety, hyperactivity, and behavioral issues in children.
But this doesn’t mean enrolling your three-or-four-year-old will be disastrous! At Children’s Academy, we have compassionate teachers who will help your child quickly acclimate to a daycare setting. We have an excellent early preschool curriculum that lets your child get a head start on kindergarten skills.
Age Doesn’t Matter–As Long As Care is Quality
While there is much debate about the best time to enroll a child in daycare, the bottom line is that daycare can benefit children of every age–as long as the daycare provides quality care. There’s a huge difference between a daycare that lets children play all day and a daycare that provides predictable routines, age-appropriate education, nutritional meals, and creative playtime.
Children’s Academy provides outstanding care to children enrolled in our program. It doesn’t matter what age your child begins daycare, at Children’s Academy, they will be cared for by kind and compassionate teachers who want to see them reach their highest potential.
Children in our program receive age-appropriate education that grows their fine and gross motor skills, social skills, and early educational knowledge. We also provide ample opportunity for creative play, both outdoors and indoors, and emphasize physical activity.
If you’re looking to give your child a head start in school, contact Children’s Academy Childcare and Preschool today!
Daycare dropoff is an adjustment for both parents and children. Oftentimes, the parents are more anxious about dropoff than the children, but once children know that daycare means separation from the parent, there may be meltdowns that tug at heartstrings.
If your child has a hard time at dropoff, you might be wondering how long it will take your toddler or child to like daycare.
The good news is children quickly adapt to changes in their routine and learn to love daycare, even if they don’t like it at first.
Children under 12 months take a very short time to adapt to daycare. They are still learning about the people and places around them, so they are malleable to caretakers.
It’s often harder for parents than babies at this age to be separated! But, once you see your baby enjoying daycare, it gets easier to leave your baby with their caregiver.
Children between one and three years of age know more about their environment and daily routine. Dropoff at this age can be confusing for children and sobering for parents.
There is a great deal of variability in how long it takes a toddler to like daycare and not have meltdowns at dropoff.
- 1 year old: It can take up to two weeks of daily dropoffs for a child to not cry when leaving a parent. If your child is on a part-time schedule, it may take longer.
- 2 years old: A child this age will take two to three weeks to adjust to drop off.
- 3 years old: Children switching daycares may only take a day or two to adjust, but a child who has never been in daycare before may take up to a month to feel comfortable at drop-off.
Perhaps surprisingly, four-year-olds may take the longest to fully adjust to a daycare environment. This is true whether they are switching daycares or starting daycare for the first time.
Four-year-olds may have the hardest time with a new daycare routine because they’re old enough to have big feelings about their change of environment. This is understandable even for adults–it is normal to feel anxious for a few weeks or months when starting a new job or class.
Similarly, four-year-olds can take three to six months to feel at home in their new daycare setting. It takes time to learn new routines, make new friends, and discover their favorite things in their classroom.
How to Help a Child Adjust to Daycare
Coping skills will vary depending on the age of the child. Here are some tips for helping children overcome anxiety at dropoff:
- Leave a favorite lovey or blanket with your child. For babies, it’s helpful if the blanket has the parent’s scent or they otherwise associate the blanket with the parent (e.g. rocking with the blanket before bedtime). Older children can keep a lovey or toy from home in their cubby to use at naptime.
- Parents should be compassionate at dropoff but not waffle when it is time to leave. Give reassuring affection or come up with a fun dropoff handshake, but then leave promptly. This helps your child know they can’t pull you back by throwing a tantrum.
- Consider rewarding older children if they don’t throw a tantrum at dropoff
Dropoff at Children’s Academy Childcare
At Children’s Academy Childcare, we know that dropoff can be hard. We have compassionate and supportive staff to help children and parents alike transition to their daycare routine. Our teachers know how to quickly engage children in their classroom activities, find new friends, and become acclimated to their new routine as quickly as possible.
If you are the parent of a newborn, you may think that the newborn stage is the hardest you’ll experience. There’s so little sleep, so many needs to be met, and the laundry pile only seems to grow. It can be a hard adjustment to figure out how this new precious bundle fits into your family life and routine.
But if you have older children, you know the saying “bigger children, bigger problems” is shockingly accurate. True, your children are more independent and you have time to do other things, but this blessing can actually be a challenge as you are less and less in control of your child’s decisions and behavior.
This begs the question: what is the hardest year to take care of a child?
According to a survey conducted by OnePoll and sponsored by Mixbook, the majority of parents agree that age eight is the hardest year to parent.
Why Is Age Eight the Hardest Year to Parent?
Eight may seem like an odd year to find challenging, but many childhood developments happen during the eighth year.
For instance, eight-year-olds consider themselves to be “big kids.” They’ve been in school for a few years, can handle their homework load independently because of their reading skills, and generally have a strong friend group and established interests.
At eight, children’s personalities are exploding. They begin to feel autonomous but still want your physical affection. Their attitudes are beginning to be influenced by their peers–for better or worse.
Not to mention, children are getting phones and social media accounts at younger and younger ages. These days, it’s not uncommon for eight-year-olds to have social media accounts or messaging apps. Unfortunately, phones and social media can drastically alter a child’s brain and can lead to premature anxiety and depression.
Additionally, children’s bodies begin to prep the hormones needed for puberty beginning at eight years old.
How to Parent a Challenging Age
Parenting struggles happen at every age. Just when your child has outgrown one thing, a new one pops up. This is just the nature of parenting! Here are a few tips to help you gain perspective during a parenting difficulty:
Listen Much, Talk Less
Above all else, you want to keep communication open with your child. This starts at a young age by lending a listening ear as much as possible. Oftentimes, children don’t want your advice, they just want someone to listen to them. So turn off the tech, make eye contact, and engage them in conversation!
Stay Calm and Compassionate
Your child will make plenty of mistakes in life–just as we all have. Learn to have a poker face when it comes to hearing about your child’s mishaps and social faux pas. Responding in a harsh, condescending, critical, or incredulous way is not only damaging to your relationship but also to your child’s personhood and self-esteem. Instead, a minimal response (emphasizing your listening) will help your child feel secure in sharing their mistakes and embarrassing moments.
Remember How it Feels to Be Their Age
Adults generally have a better perspective on life and what’s important than children do. But–remember how it feels to be their age! Take some time to reflect on your interests, fears, and joys were at your child’s present age. For instance, losing a toy may seem trivial to an adult, but remembering how it felt to lose your toy can give you compassion for your child.
Stick With a Structure
Children feel secure with a structure. While most older children are in a school with an established routine, you can continue this security by enrolling your child in after-school care at DAYCARE instead of having a child stay at home by themselves or with a babysitter.
Many working parents rely on daycare to return to their jobs. Daycare is a blessing for many parents, but daycare is not a replacement for parental care. Children need their parents to care for and raise them, so children shouldn’t be in daycare all day, every day.
But how many days–and hours during the day–is best for children to be in daycare?
The answer to this question is largely based on the child’s age. Let’s look at some of the factors to consider when finding the ideal schedule for your child.
How Many Days of Daycare for Infants?
Infants under one year are still forming a parental-child bond. For this reason, infants shouldn’t be away from their parents or relatives all day, every day. Only a few hours every day or a few times a week is best.
It might take juggling work schedules with your partner or relative to accommodate this need. Luckily, since the pandemic, many occupations are willing to let parents of young children work from home. Perhaps you can arrange for a few hours in the office and the rest of your work day at home, or align your work schedule with your partner or relatives so they can watch your baby for a few hours during your work day.
Even though it might be inconvenient to only have your infant in daycare for a few hours, it’s a decision you won’t regret in future years.
How Many Days of Daycare for Toddlers?
Although toddlers (aged one to three years) seem more independent, they need about the same amount of care and attention from their parents as infants do.
Try to arrange or cut your work schedule to have your child in daycare for 20-25 hours per week. With the help of your partner, friends, and relatives, this is attainable for many families.
How Many Days of Daycare for Pre-K and Kindergarten?
Children four years and older have a greater capacity to be away from their parents. Hopefully, children this age will feel secure in their relationships with their parents. Their social skills and classroom friendships are stronger and usually allow them to not be anxious away from their parents.
Additionally, children of this age must acclimate to the length of school days. So while you may need to slowly lengthen the hours your child is in daycare, it is appropriate to have your child in daycare for a full-time schedule.
Is It Okay for My Child to Spend More Time in Daycare Than the Recommended Amount?
A variety of factors come into play when answering this question.
- Family’s needs: Some children will be in daycare for longer because the parents have to pay the bills. Parents in this situation need to give themselves grace and rest assured that there are still opportunities to bond with their children.
- Child’s personality: Some children have a higher need to peer interaction with others. If your child is a social butterfly, they may do very well with a full-time daycare schedule, even at a young age.
- Sibling enrollment: Children who have siblings enrolled in the same daycare may feel more secure and therefore able to tolerate a full-time schedule better than a child without any siblings enrolled.
Full-Time vs. Part-Time at Children’s Academy
The advantage to full-time enrollment is it is a much more structured routine for your child. They know exactly where they will be and what to expect. With part-time enrollment, your child may be confused about when or how long they will be at daycare and who will be dropping off or picking them up. This may be upsetting for some children.
On the other hand, children enrolled in daycare full-time may miss out on important parental or family bonding opportunities. Children enrolled part-time will have more time with parents, family, and close friends and may experience greater family stability.
We offer full and part-time schedules at Children’s Academy so you can find the best fit for your child’s and family’s needs. If you opt for a part-time schedule, we can be flexible on drop-off and pick-up times.