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What's the best time for my child to take a nap?

I'd like my child to take one nap a day. What's the best time for her to take it?
Submitted by Parents Team

For nearly all children, the morning nap disappears sometime between 12 and 21 months. The exception is when a child goes to sleep too late at night and wakes up tired, in which he's likely to nap during the morning hours and may not fall asleep again in the afternoon. That's a sign that he needs to get to bed earlier in the evenings. The best time for a once-a-day nap is early afternoon. Don't let your child sleep past three or four o'clock -- you should allow for at least four hours between the end of an afternoon nap and bedtime. --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.

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I find early afternoon is best, typically 1pm. That way he has still had time to play outside and when he wakes, by 3pm at the latest, he still has enough time to get tired again before bedtime that night. My son is 34 months old and still needs a nap. I thought he was beyond the point of naps, then tried him without one, what a nightmare; emotional, tripping over things, generally just plain miserable. Will keep naps in place for as long as I can.
Submitted by megan.groff