10 answers

3 Year-old and Waking up Too Early

My daughter (just turned 3) has always been en excellent sleeper. She's had times where she schedule gets out of wack, but its always been quick to resolve. This latest one it taking the cake...

Bedtime is 6:30 - 7. She usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour to fall asleep. Lately, she's been waking up during the night and letting herself out of her room. We have a gate over the stairs so she can't go anywhere fun (only bedrooms upstairs). Sometimes is in the 2 am hour, sometimes the 4 am hour, sometimes its 5 am and she doesn't go back to sleep at all.

She still naps, usually. There are days she refuses to nap and not becuase she's not tired. She's exhausted and cranky frequently and she LOOKs tired. What should I try to get her back on schedule... I want her to sleep from 7/7:30 until 6:45 or 7 in the morning withou extended night wakings, and a nap of 1 hour or 90 minutes... this is the sleep that I feel like she needs, but is resisting. I've previously gone to "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" for advice, but it doens't seem to have an concrete steps to try for 3 and up. Any advice?

ETA: I have a really hard time with the idea that a later bedtime is the answer. The problem is that she's not sleeping enough... yes, 6:30 is early, but that is our early version of bedtime... normal is between 7 and 7:30, she falls asleep by 8. Lately its been 8:30 or 9 or later falling asleep. My kids are NOT late sleepers... I can count on one hand the number of times my daughter has EVER slept in past 7:30 once she got her days and nights figured out as an infant (about 7 weeks old). We have toyed with moving bedtime back slightly (8 at the latest) but I very strongly believe in early to bed for kids.

What can I do next?

More Answers

If she is sleeping at 7 and up at 4 that's 9 hours of sleep plus her nap during the day and that's really the right amount of needed hours of sleep for a 3 year old. They need between 10 and 12 hours total (includes nap) If you want her to sleep more in the morning then its time to start thinking about dropping that nap yeah it stinks but it will probably solve the problem.

Edited: I also don't think pushing the bedtime back is the best route to go. My 3 year old sleeps 7-7 and my 8 year old sleeps 8-8 during the summer and 7-7 during the school year otherwise he is very grumpy for school. I think cutting the nap out is the only way to go even if you aren't ready to give it up she sounds like she is. You could replace it with quiet time. My boys both go to the their room after lunch and are required to do a quiet activity whether its puzzles, coloring, or the oldest reading to the little one they need the break and so do I.

2 moms found this helpful

Are you willing to try a later bedtime? 7 seems so early to me. And you probably do need to drop the nap. She will be tired at first, because of her night wakings, but she will adjust in a few days, where she will stop waking up at night since she didn't have the nap, and won't be so tired/cranky during the day.

1 mom found this helpful

My three year old goes to bed around 8:30 with a nap during the day (at daycare). He is usually right to sleep or will fall sleep in 15 minutes or so. He's up at 7:00 the next morning. She is probably at an age where she can stay up longer in the evenings, and is needing less sleep than when she was a baby, esp if she is still napping. On days where she doesn't nap, I would put to bed earlier.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with pushing her bed time later. She is 3 and 6:30/7 is awfully early. I have my 5 month old go to bed at that time, but my 3 year old (he will be 3 on saturday) goes to bed by 8 and usually takes about a half hour if that to fall asleep. He is up by 6-6:30 in the morning and take about an hour to an hour and a half nap around 1. Some kids are just early risers. But at 3 i think it is perfectly fine to put her to bed around 7:30/8 and see what happens. It may take a little time for her to get used to the new scheduale to.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree that you may have to drop her nap. She probably is still tired during the day, but maybe instituting some "down" time where she has to play quietly in her room instead of nap will help allevaite some of her fussiness. It will be hard at first, but I think that is probably the key to solving this problem, unless you want to put her to bed later, which you could do, but it just all depends on when you need her to wake up in the morning. If you stay home or don't have anyplace to be before 9ish, put her to bed at 8-8:30ish and let her sleep in a bit. If that doesn't work for your schedule, then I go back to previous advice of no nap! ;) Sorry!

Goodness, why put her down @ 6:30. It's daylight for another 3 hours! At this age, they are more than ready to extend their day. My kids go to bed at 9pm and wake at 7:30 or 8. And it's because they wear out and are actually tired. At 6:30, your little one probably isn't even tired enough to go to sleep.

6:30 bedtime? Our 3-year-old is 9pm, no naps. Baby is 10 pm, 2 naps. Some night screaming, teething, etc. They sleep until 8, so it works great!

You should check out this site I often refer too, it is fairly new, and it is called the skinny scoop...they have a lot of advice from other moms..and there is a section on how to get your child to sleep - check it out!
Hope it helps:


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