Whether you consider them “terrible,” tantrum-y or not, the ages of two and three are intense times, fueled by lots of exciting developments and exploration. For parents of these pint-sized limit-testers and adventurers, the afternoon nap may be the only quiet respite during a busy, often-emotional day… but are naps ruining your child’s sleep during the night? A new report that focused on 26 studies about napping found that beyond the age of two, sleeping during the daytime is associated with more disrupted sleep at night, which can in turn be linked to behavioral issues, impaired cognitive functioning, and even obesity. Most experts agree that napping habits are different for every kid and family: some two year-olds clearly need a break in their day to recharge and will fall apart if denied a nap. If your child happily takes a nap during the day and peacefully heads off to snoozeville at nighttime, he/she may still need that extra daytime sleep. For other toddlers who take a nap (especially if they fight it going down) and then have difficulty falling asleep at night, cutting or reducing the length of the nap might be a reasonable recommendation. So pay attention to your child’s behaviors and signals — they may be a better indicator of her sleep needs than her age.

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