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While you don't want to become a slave to your child's nap habits, it's helpful to maintain a consistent routine. The more regular a child's naptime, waking time, and bedtime are, the more likely it'll be that his internal clock will run smoothly and that he'll fall asleep more quickly and easily. This doesn't mean, however, that you can't break from the schedule when you're away from home or when you've got special plans. If your child is well rested, skipping a nap occasionally for a birthday party or an outing won't cause problems. As for vacations, even toddlers can understand that there are different rules that apply when the family is away from home. Most kids will resume their regular nap schedule if you stick to it when you return. --Rebecca R. Kahlenberg
Originally published in Parents magazine, November 2004. Updated 2009
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.