2 1/2 Year Old Takes an Hour or More to Fall Asleep

Updated on October 02, 2010
M.B. asks from Woodstock, GA
12 answers

My little girl takes forever to fall asleep at night. She takes one nap a day, anywhere from 1.5 -2.5 hours. She could take 15 minutes or over an hour to all asleep for her nap. I let her skip her nap a couple of times thinking she might not need one anymore, but she would fall asleep at dinner and then be wired, or be in a bad mood in the evening, or she might even act fine until bedtime. She goes to bed at 8:30 usually but is awake until b/t 930-10. Sometimes she is quiet for all that time, sometimes she plays, sings, ect. I wonder if she is overtired. She has been doing this for a long time, over 6 months. I used to think this was due to teething, but all her teeth are in now. My question is did any of you start putting your toddler to bed earlier? I have read lots of sleep books including Healthy Sleep Habits. It is working like a charm for my 6 month old. I am just not sure what to do with my toddler. For those of you that have tried an earlier bedtime, how did it turn out? Did it work? How many days or weeks did you enforce an earlier bedtime before you decided it's working or not? I just feel bad enough already that she is in there so long awake. I hate to think about putting her in there even earlier. TIA

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answers from Savannah on

I went through the same thing with my daughter when she was done taking her nap in the day. I have some friends who were lucky and their kids still napped at like 4 and 5...but not mine. Eventually it all worked itself out. I still put her in her room at nap time and told her she didn't have to sleep...but she had to rest (she would quietly play). Then she'd sleep at night. Good luck.

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answers from Victoria on

my son has gone to bed at 8 since he turned one. he stays in his bed. he is now 2 1/2 and still goes to bed at 8 (or 8:30) its sometimes ten before he actually falls asleep sometimes later. i think about it like this...when you go to bed how long are you up for? an hour? thirty mins? we dont fall asleep right away we like time to settle down before we fall asleep. i would not worry too much about her taking her time to settle down and fall asleep. as long as she isnt being crabby or showing she needs to go to bed sooner i think your on the right track. good luck.

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answers from Cleveland on

My son is now 7, and has always taken a long time to go to sleep - usually 1 - 1.5 hours. He has some Obsessive Compulsive tendencies and anxiety, and used to lay there and recite things to himself - sometime addition and subtraction facts, conversations between his toy characters, etc. I started giving him some Melatonin (I only give 1/2 mg) about 30 minutes before he goes to sleep. Ask you Doc and google it to read about it - it is something our body naturally produces, but there is an herbal supplement that you can give them.



answers from Chicago on

We get my 2.5 yo to sleep around 7. It depends on his nap. He's been skipping them lately, and when he doesn't take one, he's ready for bed before 7! When he is too tired, he does the same as your daughter- takes forever to fall asleep. But when we get him to bed early, he falls right asleep. If I hadn't experienced it, I wouldn't believe what the Sleep Habits book claims! We do that for our 10 month-old as well, but she sometimes gets a bedtime as early as 6, depending on her nap. With my son, he wakes up early like there's an alarm in his room every day. It doesn't matter what time he goes to sleep, so we have to put him down early to catch him up on any missed sleep. With my baby, she'll sleep in sometimes, so it seems easier for her to make up for lost sleep. We usually do an early bedtime every day that they're super tired and missed naps or something. When they've napped well and are in good moods, bedtime is later. It varies by the day, but if they're crabby and short-tempered, more sleep is always needed. Early bedtimes- they're wonderful!



answers from Spartanburg on

i'm not sure how your child is but i have an almost 3 yr old girl and i learned that if you lay them down and every 10 min. go in touch them talk to them and let them know your there and walk away do it every ten min till they fall asleep soon they will understand that your not goin anywhere



answers from Atlanta on

My daughter is 3 and it takes her forever to fall asleep as well. We put her to bed around 8:30 and read to her for 15-30 minutes. Often at 10 when I go to bed she is still awake. She is up every day around 6:30am. She still naps around 2 hours every day as well, which she NEEDS. I find when she doesn't nap the next day she is so cranky and emotional. In my opinion your daughter is fine still taking a nap and lying in bed for so long before dozing off. Some nights I toss and turn before I am able to fall asleep as well.



answers from Denver on

We are going through the same thing and guess what? Usually it means that they are ready to drop the nap. It is a sad day for me. I had her skip her nap today (talk about a looooonnnng day for Mommy!) and she was asleep in bed after 10 mins (at 7:15). She is almost exactly 2.5. We had been having a bedtime battle lately (getting out of bed, talking, etc. etc). You might want to try it and see what happens. Bedtime will have to be moved up by at least an hour, is my guess.



answers from Macon on

You just described my daughter...exactly. She started doing the same thing around 2.5 and is now 4...and is STILL staying awake. We put her in her room at 7:30pm (after reading stories...bath...teeth...all that stuff) and she will sometimes quietly play until 10pm! She takes naps at Pre-K but on the weekends she doesn't nap at all. So, I'm not quite sure what the reason is being that she should be totally exhausted after a full day of activity. At this point I am just assuming it's normal and that she needs the alone time to play and explore. The funny thing is that she never wants to play in her room during the day...but at bedtime, she has such an imagination and plays for at least an hour. We require her light to be off, with a night light, and have an agreement that she is allowed to play but must put herself to sleep. We don't go back in to tuck her in...once she's in her room and we say goodnight the rules are she is to stay there and not come out and tuck herself in. We used to demand that she stay tucked in, go to sleep, no playing allowed...but finally "gave in" I guess because she would sneak out anyway to play with her dolls on the floor. I'm hoping it'll be another phase and she'll eventually read books in bed and fall asleep. The fun part of it is when we go to check on her before we go to sleep and find that she's tucked in all her dolls, or has set up her toys in cute little ways, or has dressed her stuffed animals. She's usually passed out on her bed and under the covers, so I'm fine with it. Rarely is she cranky the next morning, so I trust that she's getting adequate sleep. She's always been a good sleeper too. Best of luck to you!



answers from Atlanta on

My daughter does that sometimes as well. My questions would be - first, is she happy when she's in there or is she fussing? It sounds like she's happy. And, second, the way things are now - does she act fine during the day as if she's getting the right amount of sleep? If both of those are positive answers, then I think you're fine with what you're doing now unless it's just driving you crazy. I think kids need downtime and the fact that she's in a quiet place with relatively low stimulus means she is getting some rest even if she isn't sleeping. And, it's helping her learn to keep her self occupied on her own which is a great skill as well.
One thing that helped my daughter - I used to be very strict about not letting her have toys or anything in bed with her. But, I found that if i let her have a couple of stuffed animals and even now (she's 3 1/2 now) I let her have a book in bed. But, I give her a time line, I tell her she can only play for a few minutes or "read" the book twice then she has to put them away. That seems to help her slow things down and then drop off to sleep on her own. Of course, we've had nights that I've had to come up and say I'm going to take everything away to get her to sleep, but normally it works! Good luck!



answers from Honolulu on

She still needs a nap.

Over-tired kids get more hyper/fussy/unable to sleep.

Kids also NEED to wind-down before sleep.
It takes me 1 hour to wind-down my kids BEFORE bed time.
I don't wind them down when it IS bedtime. I do it PRIOR..... before, actual bedtime.
We make everything quiet. Turn off things. Make it dark and only leave on one lamp etc. I verbally cue them "bed time soon..." we get ready, brush teeth, put on jammies etc. And then I let them do something quiet and calm.... reading or they like to talk story before bed. THEN, it is bedtime. And they are already wound down.
And they go to sleep.

AND, like adults, kids dont' just fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. They lay there.... looking around or muttering to themselves. Fine. But everything is off/dark/calm. And then they fall asleep.

Both my kids nap. They are both napping now in fact. They nap for 2 hours. Then they go to bed by 8:30.
They go to bed just fine. NOT over-tired and strung out from being over-tired.
My kids are 4 and 7.

all the best,



answers from Atlanta on

When both of my kids started taking so long to go down for a nap and for bed, I weaned them off the nap. Yes they were irritable at dinner time. But they fell asleep very quickly at night. I just had dinner at 5:30, then it was straight to bath and bed. Every 2 or 3 days a nap was needed. That lasted for a couple weeks. Then nap turned into dozing off in the car for about 10 mins. on the way home from an errand. After 4-6 weeks, they adjusted and weren't grumpy in the evening and stopped falling asleep in the car. The number of hours they were sleeping at night equaled the number of hours they had combined of nap and night.
Good luck!



answers from Boston on

When we first cut out my youngest's nap around 2 (he was going to bed late and waking early) we bumped his bedtime up some nights he was asleep by 630 but he slept until 630 now at 3 and a half he is going bed at 7/730 and sleeping until 7/730. It should not take an hour or more to fall asleep I'm sure if you at least cut down on the nap 2.5 hrs is a long time you might see some improvement.

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