13 answers

Toddler Unable to Fall Asleep for Nap Unless in Car

Hi I have a 3 year old boy that will not fall asleep in his room for naps. I have to drive him in the car in order for him to sleep for his nap. He goes to sleep in his room at night but it is a 30-45 min ordeal of things he wants to not wanting to sleep. I know he still needs his naps because the days that I don't take him for a drive he is falling asleep sitting up at around 5 pm. Just wondering if there is any ideas on how to get him out of this cause I am expecting my second child any day. Wanted to get him sleeping in his room for naps but everything I try doesn't work he just keeps saying he is not tired even though is. I can tell by his signs and attitude. I do the same routine that we do at night. My Pediatrican recommend doing a Star Chart for sleep but he doesn't care about it not interested at all.

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I highly recommend Weissbluth's book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child! A lot of it is about babies, but there is stuff for older kids too, and his method is amazingly effective. It takes some work and a few days to a week to see results, but you will be so happy with the results. I think they should send us all home from the hospital with this book.

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SOme three year olds do not need a nap every day. I have twin 3 year old daughters. One likes to take a 2 hour nap every day and the other only wants 30 minutes every couple of days. We call naps "quiet time" because I knew that as they got older, the word "nap" would cause problems. My girls are have to stay on their beds with books or a few quiet toys and are not allowed to get up until I come get them. Again, I started this when they were little. If yo want your son to rest for a specific time every day, put him where you want him and tell him to stay there. He doesn't have to sleep, but he has to be quiet. Then leave, don't hover over him. If he cries, that is fine - it is his way of expressing himself. Be firm and consistent.

Please remember with your second child - don't start something unless you plan to do for many years. If you put them in the car to put them to sleep, then that is the routine they expect and you should plan on doing it every day for a couple of years. If you don't want to do that, then don't do it the first time. As you are experiencing now, it is hard to break your son's habit just because you can't/won't do it anymore. Sorry if this sounds harsh.

Hi L. :O)

I read your responses, and I have tried all of them. They all work :O)

My oldest son needed a car ride, too, in order to relax enough to sleep. So, orginally, I just spread out and planned my daily errands so he would be in the car at the same time each day to (hopefully) fall asleep.

At your son's age, he can probably go a day without a nap, but then easily fall asleep the next day. This is what will begin to happen as he is outgowing his naps. Your routine will need to asccomodate his new routine. And, it will probably even be more interupted once your new baby comes.

Because you are SO pregnant, laying down with him is probably the best solution right now :o)

Just do what is easiest right now until you have that new baby, and then you can develop a new routine that works for all 3 of you :o)

Congratulations on your growing family!

~N. :O)

My just turned 3 year old was resisting naps, so we made up some sleep rules. Here are her rules:

1. Lay down
2. Close your eyes
3. Be very quiet
4. Go to sleep

If she follows her sleep rules she gets a treat when she wakes up. She'll do anything for M&M's and I'll do anything to get her to nap, so it works out. Sometimes she won't sleep, but she'll be quiet and she'll still get her treat.
We have a 3 month old and I really need the downtime and she
does too.

So this may sound a little harsh but do it with love and knowing your child needs the nap and it will be okay. I lay down with my son and read 2 books in our bed, then "help" him lay down by placing my thigh across his hips so he cannot move and say nap time go to sleep, the first 2 weeks I did this he fully protested with yelling and crying and I had to be strong and close my eyes and remind myself this is for his good and he needs to learn to nap, And IT TOTALLY WORKS now I just have to say. Let's go lay down and he crawls in bed, we read books, & sometimes i need to place my leg on him for just a minute but he falls asleep easily without much fuss, and most of the time he rolls over and falls asleep, I do lay there with him with my eyes closed for at leat 5 minutes to ensure he is asleep. Sometimes I even take a sort nap too. I had my second baby in March, and I have a toddler. I put the infant to sleep in the swing or other room while I put the toddler to sleep, I may even get a nap if everyone stays asleep
good luck to you and your family

My parents are raising my 2 nephews and the 5 yr still needs a good 2-3 hr nap, but has always fought taking a nap. Right around 3 yrs of age my dad started making a deal with him. He had to "close his eyes" for 5 minutes and be quiet. My dad usually checked on him in about 10 mins. If when my dad came back and his eyes were closed but he was not asleep he could get up.

There were many times when my dad returned and of course his eyes weren't shut so he did it again. And 9 out of 10 times the second time he returned he was out. Now 2.5 yrs later, after the 5 minutes are up he's out. But obviously this is only going to work if he's really tired so days where he wasn't and he laid with his eyes shut he got to get up when they checked on him. It really seemed to work with him. And let me tell this kid battled and battled with you and this is the only thing that seemed to work. He just couldn't settle down on his own. And this game seemed to work for him.

The only sad thing is when he wakes up he always says why is 5 minutes so long. Until recently he never even realized he fell asleep :)

one method I used to use with "quiet time" was to set a timer for about 20-30 minutes and tell my twins that they needed to stay quiet during that time because if I heard them making a lot of noise, the timer would get set back to the beginning again. So they could play quietly with soft toys or picture books and usually if they were really tired they'd fall asleep before the timer went off. And if they didn't, at least they had spent some time where they weren't running around so they weren't *quite* as cranky at the end of the day as they would have been if they hadn't had that quiet time. And some times I *would* have to lie down in the room with them, but since I was usually tired myself that wasn't necessarily a bad thing ;-)

Have you tried a "quiet bedroom time". Don't require him to sleep. But do require him to lay down on his bed, he may "read" or play with one or two quiet toys. Start him out with a half hour and work up to an hour. If they aren't trying to stay awake but have limited stimulation, like in the car, he may fall asleep on his own.
My son is 4 and I still use it, even though he has mostly outgrown naps, but I still like having my afternoon break from the kid.

I am very interested to see your responses because my daughter is almost 3 1/2 and does the same thing! She won't really take naps anywhere else (probably too much stimulation from being in a new place) and she has been so random with taking naps at home. No matter how late or early we get into the car if it's anywhere near lunch or nap time she crashes out. =) My dad said my brother and I used to fall asleep in the car all the time. Being a single dad it really worked for him.
I now do the "quiet time" idea but if you're having problems at night time (just like me) then it might work or it might not. Naps are very random and sometimes it's almost more work than worth it. Good luck and I hope you get more responses for your sake! =) Congrats on baby #2!!

When my kids started fighting their naps I would lay down with them in my bed, read a short story or two and then turn over saying "mommy's going to sleep now." Usually my little one was asleep within five minutes (and half the time I was too!)
Those shared naps are some of my best memories of toddlerhood...quiet, sleepy, cuddly afternoons :)

Some kids stop naps early. My daughter's often fell asleep at 5pm after missing a nap. As you're about the discover with the arrival of another child, you do the best you can and make due. I don't think there's a magic bullet to make your child go to sleep, but the idea about quiet time is a good one. Even if they don't fall asleep it is some downtime (in theory!) Good-luck!

I highly recommend Weissbluth's book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child! A lot of it is about babies, but there is stuff for older kids too, and his method is amazingly effective. It takes some work and a few days to a week to see results, but you will be so happy with the results. I think they should send us all home from the hospital with this book.

It sounds like he is ready to stop his naps. I can just tell you this because of my son and my daughter. They both stoped taking naps when they turned two. When my daughter was born, two months later my son turned two and he completely disliked taking naps, so I didn't force him anymore. Having a newborn, I was the one falling asleep trying to put him down for a nap so it was hard. After I realized that he wasn't going to do it, it was much better because the baby would fall asleep and my son and I would have time together. At the beginning is difficult because he was getting tired early and went to sleep around 7:00pm until the next morning. Little by little he stayed up later and later until 8:00pm and slept through the night until around 7:00am. It is hard for us at the beginning but then we start developing a routine with them, and with the second one it's easier to stop the naps because they see what they can do if they don't fall asleep in the afternoon. When my daughter turned two it was my decision for her to stop the naps and the first few days were interesting but since there was already a routine established with my son, she just followed it and both went to bed at the same time and woke up pretty much at the same time too. If you haven't had your new baby yet it might be better to start the routine of no naps before the baby is born; otherwise, it might be hard to put both of them to sleep, especially if one of them doesn't want to have anything to do with naps. I hope everything goes well. E

You don't have to take him for a ride in the car, and you certainly don't have to argue for 30 minutes about what he wants before he goes to sleep. Put him in his bed and tell him it's time for him to take his nap. Then close the door and DO NOT GO IN AGAIN. Do not let him come out, and do not get him a drink of water or a Kleenex or anything else he asks for. Do not argue with him through the closed door. When he gets tired of crying he will go to sleep, and if you are consistent, within a couple of days you will have won both your nap and your nighttime sleep battles. And, by establishing that you are the one in charge, you will also be able to get him to generally do what he's told without arguing and whining and carrying on. You're gonna need that when the new baby comes.

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