Q: Will an afternoon nap keep a child up later at night?
A: Probably not. A one- to two-hour midafternoon nap won't interfere with bedtime for most preschoolers. In fact, the opposite often occurs: Young kids who don't nap get overstimulated, then have a tough time settling down in the evenings. But this changes when a child gets a bit older, usually around 4 or 5. By then, an afternoon nap can, in fact, make a kid less tired at his normal bedtime. In that case, it's best to move the nap earlier in the day or eliminate it altogether rather than allowing him to stay up later at night. But you don't have to give up those peaceful afternoon interludes completely. Encourage your child to replace his nap with "quiet time," an hour or so when he looks at a storybook, listens to soft music, or colors. --Rebecca R. Kahlenberg
Originally published in Parents magazine, November 2004.