How to Get My 3 Year Old to Sleep Later

Updated on April 25, 2008
T.B. asks from Springfield, VA
9 answers

My 3 year old son has been waking up between 6 and 6:30 every morning. He was up at 5:45 today!! He used to sleep until 7:30. Needless to say, we go through the day very tired and cranky. By dinner time, he is just a mess. If I make him take a nap, then he is awake until 9:30 - 10 at night. He is in bed each night around 8:15 after our routine of bath, snack, book, potty, brush, and bed. I have room darkening shades on his windows so his room is dark in the morning. Any ideas would be appreciated!!

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all of your advice. We incoprorated a bunch of ideas including, shorter naps, ealier bedtime, and a clock in his room. The clock is a life saver. He knows that he can not come out of his room until 7:00 and it works!!

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M.I.

answers from St. Louis on

In the winter time, the rule for my almost 3 year old is that she has to stay in the bed until the sun comes up. Well now that it's getting to be summer and the sun comes up earlier and earlier, the rule is that the clock has to have the number 7 on it before she can get out of bed.

So far so good for us. She can recognize the number 7. I cover the minutes side just in case it's 5:07 and she sees that 7 as being okay to get up.

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M.I.

answers from St. Louis on

In the winter time, the rule for my almost 3 year old is that she has to stay in the bed until the sun comes up. Well now that it's getting to be summer and the sun comes up earlier and earlier, the rule is that the clock has to have the number 7 on it before she can get out of bed.

So far so good for us. She can recognize the number 7. I cover the minutes side just in case it's 5:07 and she sees that 7 as being okay to get up.

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R.W.

answers from Kansas City on

Here is a helpful chart that details the amount of sleep a child up to age three needs:

http://www.babycenter.com/0_how-much-sleep-does-your-chil...

With that said, I think that I agree with the other posters as far as having a set time that he may be up and about the house. I think making him rest or play quietly until 7 or 7:30 is NOT unreasonable. It's not like you are being unrealistic there. Before 6 a.m. is TOO early! Put some favorite books near him and ask him to read or entertain his stuffed animal/himself until everyone else has had a chance to wake up. Maybe you could even get special library books that he looks at only in the early morning hours. That way if he is still sleepy he may even drift back off to sleep which would be a plus.

I hope you find some relief with this. A marble jar is a great incentive also! :) Good luck with this!

S.T.

answers from St. Louis on

My sister had this problem with her 3 yr. old also. She put a digital alarm clock in her child's room and told her that she wasn't allowed to come out of her room until the first number was a 7. My niece was allowed to get out of bed, but she had to play quietly by herself and it worked. If your son doesn't take a nap he definitely does need 11-12 hours of sleep a day. So, he should be sleeping until at least 7 or 7:30.

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M.F.

answers from Kansas City on

i know it sound counter-intuitive but maybe put him to bed a bit earlier. sounds silly, i know . maybe try it, you may be surprised! and congradulations on twin babies on the way! what a neat blessing...M.

S.L.

answers from Kansas City on

So let me get this straight.. You want for him to sleep between 8:15pm or so to around 7-8 am in the morning? Do you realize that's almost 12 hours?

I realize that at times children will sleep long like that. They will go through growth spurts where more sleep is needed. But the older they get the less they need for quite a long while. Interestingly enough, 12 year olds need nearly that much sleep per day.

I think you will need to decide what personal time you value most. Do you most want time to yourself in the afternoon or evening? And, is sleeping in important to you or do you like to get up and enter your own day slower without a child needing so much right off?

You will not make this child sleep 12 hours per night if he doesn't need it.

However, if you really want to try and make that happen, run him ragged during the day. Take him to the park for hours and hours per day and skip the naps too. He'll sleep longer. Sometimes this is ok if you just need more personal time. No one can fault you for that. But it's an exhausting thing to do and really can't be done everyday.

S.

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V.M.

answers from Kansas City on

Hi Toni,
Can you give him some "down time" during the day? Maybe even lay down with him or put in a movie even if he doesn't fall asleep? Since you are pregnant with TWINS, I'll bet you can use the rest too!! In my experience with 3 kids it's always a challenge to re-arrange their sleep schedule. Your son is probably in that "transition" stage.. no nap and cranky to having a nap and staying up later. I would give him the nap, so he stays up a little longer, then maybe he will sleep later the next morning...when your 5 year old starts school schedules will change again, and especially when the babies are born. Congratulations on your growing family and take care! V.

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M.T.

answers from St. Louis on

I think that they only answer is to keep him up a little later. I think that a nap during the day is very necessary for children 4 and under. My children took a nap every day until kindergarten. Actually, my daughter came home from kindergarten at 2:45 and was asleep by 3 for a 45 minute nap. I really believe that your only option for sleeping later in the morning is a nap during the day and keeping him up later at night. Sorry that I could be of more help. Good luck with your situation and congratulations on TWINS!!!!

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B.S.

answers from Kansas City on

It's supposed to be that kids who nap better, sleep better and vice versa. Maybe keep him in his room with some quiet toys (books or whatever) until you think it's ok to get up. Then try for an earlier lunch and a nap shortly after. Maybe things just need to be moved up a little? Even if he doesn't sleep, kids (and moms!) need some quiet down time with themselves. Emme wakes up around 7 each morning, and although I'm up, I'm getting a shower and whatnot so I just keep her in her room until I'm ready for her to get up and going...

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K.F.

answers from Wichita on

Congrats and good luck with the twins. As for the three year old; try to keep him up longer for a few nights to get him into a new rutine. He may be realy iritable, but it has to be done. Going to bed at 9:30 instead of 8:30 should get him sleeping later in the morning like you want. Then even move his lunch up to around 11:00, and after lunch make him have quiet time where he has to sit, or lye quietly for an hour or so. Put his favorite movie in, or sit with him and read. Tell him if he can get through quiet time he can do something fun afterwords like finger paint, go to the park, or help you make cookies. This should calm the crankiness through the day down. And if he falls asleep; only let him sleep for short while then wake him up. I know it'll be tempting to let him sleep while you get to know yourself again, but it'll only be harder to get him in bed later. Between quiet time and bed time keep him entertained, and active. Show him how to do exercises, and then you call out different ones and have him do them. Like simon says. See if that works, and if it dosen't give him a list of things he has to do in the morning before he can come out of his room in the morning. Like make his bed, pick up his toys, get dressed, and read a book. That might give you the extra time you're looking for.

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