An afternoon nap may affect your toddler's overall sleep quality, suggests new research.
Napping beyond the age of two lengthens the amount of time it takes for a child to fall asleep (sleep onset) and shortens the overall amount of night-time sleep he or she has, the findings showed.
"The impact of night sleep on children's development and health is increasingly documented, but to date there is not sufficient evidence to indicate the value of prolonging napping," wrote the researchers led by Karen Thorpe from Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
The researchers wanted to find out what impact napping has on young children's night-time sleep quality, behaviour, cognition and physical health.
They therefore reviewed the available published evidence for napping in children up to the age of 5 years, and found 26 relevant studies out of a total of 781. They pooled the data and synthesised the findings.
They found consistent, if not particularly high quality, evidence indicating that napping affects night time sleep of kids beyond the age two.
The links between napping and any detrimental impact on behaviour, development, and overall health, however, were less clear-cut, largely because of the differences in age and napping patterns of the children studied.
The study was published online in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.