Archive: napping

Kids Nightmares: What Causes Them and How to Handle Them

Right around preschool-age, children start recognizing that nightmares are only dreams and cannot hurt them. This does not mean your child is any less scared. Your little one still needs your reassurance and understanding. Here’s a little bit of information about what may be causing his or her bad dreams and what you can do to help:


What causes nightmares?

1. An active imagination could be part of the reason your child wakes up in a cold sweat. Preschoolers use their imagination to make sense of the world around them. It can be used as their way of working through new information.

2. Children at this age have difficulty separating reality from make believe. They may believe in the Bogeyman as much as they believe in Santa Claus, making their nightmares that much more realistic.

3. Stress can trigger nightmares and stress is often a result of change at this age. Starting preschool is a huge change in preschoolers’ lives so a sense of worry and stress is only natural.

4. If something traumatic has recently happened in your child’s life, that could be the perpetrator. If there was a recent car accident or severe injury, nightmares could be a natural effect.


How can you help?

1. Help your child calm down as much as you can. Even though he or she is worked up, it’s important that they lose as little sleep as possible.

2. Try asking your kiddo what the dream was about and then use simple logic to explain that it was only a dream and, even though it was certainly scary, it wasn’t real and can’t hurt them.

3. When talking about the nightmare, keep it short and simple. You want to listen and reassure your little one, but you don’t want to spark their imagination and trigger any new nightmares.

4. Try soothing you child by rubbing his or her back, singing them a song or maybe just giving them a huge hug.

5. Prevent nightmares in the first place by sticking to a bedtime routine. Whether this includes reading a book, telling a story or singing a song, follow the same pattern nightly. Routine creates a sense of safety.



-“Nightmares.” Kids Health.

-“Nightmares.” What to Expect.

-Photo courtesy of Jeanne Claire Maarbes/

5 Child Napping Tips

Learn to recognize naptime.

Keep your eyes peeled for yawning, rubbing eyes and fussiness. When your baby is tired, he or she should sleep. recommends following this table for an estimated sleep guide:


Age Total Sleep Nighttime Sleep Naps
Newborn-2 months 16-18 hours 8-9 hours 7-9 hours (3-5 naps)
2-4 months 14-16 hours 9-10 hours 4-5 hours (3 naps)
4-6 months 14-15 hours 10 hours 4-5 hours (2-3 naps)
6-9 months 14 hours 10-11 hours 3-4 hours (2 naps)
9-12 months 14 hours 10-12 hours 2-3 hours (2 naps)
12-18 months 13-14 hours 11-12 hours 2-3 hours (1-2 naps)
18 months-2 years 13-14 hours 11 hours 2 hours (1 nap)
2-3 years 12-14 hours 10-11 hours 1-2 hours (1 nap)
3-5 years 11-13 hours 10-11 hours 0-1 hours (naps stop by age 5)
5-12 years 10-11 hours 10-11 hours No naps


Don’t wake a baby mid nap.

Disrupting a sleep cycle part way through will likely result in a crabby baby.


Avoid napping on the move.

It’s not a big deal if your child falls asleep in the car while you’re running errands, but don’t rely solely on these naps on the go. Just like adults, in order to feel fully rested, your child needs to sleep in his or her own bed.


As babies mature, gradually separate feeding from napping.

Newborns will often fall asleep while feeding. This is totally normal, but you want to make sure that feeding is not the only way your baby can fall asleep. In order to avoid this, start to take a break after feeding and then putting your baby down for a nap.

Routine is key.

Stick to a set schedule. Your little one will sleep better and wake up feeling more rested if his or her body is used to sleeping at a certain time. Keep your nap routine daily and make sure that both nighttime sleep and naptime sleep happen in the crib. This way, your baby begins to associate a bed with sleep.



-Bhargava, Hansa. “Baby Napping DOs & DON’Ts.” WebMD.

-Gelman, Lauren. “Baby and Children Sleep Chart.”

-Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

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