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The Horrible, Terrible, No Good Consequences of Skipping Naps

Some parents are casual about baby's naps and others are serious to the point of becoming neurotic. Personally I leaned toward neurotic, and I can say that with ease – baby's sleep is very important, and as the parents, it's our job to protect naptime and nighttime sleep as well.

Every Child Is Different But…
Every child has his quirks and every parent has a lifestyle they like to pretend to be in control of. How naptimes fit into this universe can be tricky. Some parents are content to live a child-centric life. The little ones in their life are the metronome the adults play fiddle to. Other households try to fit the baby into their own lifestyles – with mixed results. Some babies need more than fifteen hours of sleep a day – this can be frustrating for parents who are trying to enjoy their child and take care of errands out of the house. Other babies seem to thrive on only ten or twelve hours of sleep, which can be irritating if you're hoping to utilize naptime for projects of your own.

Skipping Naps
Even the most vigilant among us has knowingly skipped a nap. Or perhaps baby threw us for a loop one day by deciding to not fall asleep even after an hour of rocking – only to completely melt down thirty minutes later. The consequences of skipping naps can be dramatic, especially if your child isn't getting a regular nap the vast majority of the time.

Tired and Cranky – When you don't get enough sleep, you get tired and cranky. Babies do, too. In fact, there have been some studies that suggest many tantrums that occur after the first year are related to poor sleep habits. Miss a nap, go to bed too late at night or wake up too early and you can expect real consequences. Unfortunately, your baby is just as miserable as she is making you so it's a lose-lose situation.

Poor Night Sleep – Naps and nights are on different rhythms and they actually stem from different parts of development and the brain. That being said, the two are not tied together in the way many parents think. If your child misses a nap, she is not going to sleep better that night. She's likely going to sleep more fitfully when you put her down for bed. If you think about pulling an all-nighter in school and then trying to get to sleep the next day, you might have felt jittery and wired rather than deeply exhausted. The poor night sleep is your baby experiencing similar sensations.

Illness and Development – A long-term consequence of missing naps and poor sleep habits is especially scary to parents. Your baby grows and heals while she sleeps. Babies need on average twelve to fourteen hours of sleep a day, and it could be more. While she sleeps, her immune system is working to strengthen and protect her. She is also doing her best growth while she's sleeping and virtually all development is processed in the brain and body while she sleeps. The less sleep she gets, the more likely she is to get sick or perhaps even face some more serious problems.

Can you skip a nap? It happens, and once in a blue moon isn't a problem. But if you're going to be missing a regular naptime, plan on a much earlier bedtime or try to fit in the nap before you leave or even while you're driving just to try and disrupt her healthy sleep habits as little as possible.

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