20 Month Old Is Waking up Early and Taking Very Short Naps - I'm So Tired!!!

Updated on June 04, 2009
A.S. asks from Lincoln, CA
8 answers

Hello Ladies,

I sure hope you all can help me and fast!! For the past few weeks now my son has been waking up at 5:30 in the morning. He typically wakes up happy and calling for me. I just figured that his schedule is changing and went along with it. He had been waking at 7am and going down for a nap at 1pm. He would usually sleep 2 1/2 - 3 hours. It gave me time to get things done and to breath. Since he's been waking earlier I've moved his nap up to between 11:30 or 12:00. He had been napping good (for the most part), but for the past two days I'm lucky if he sleeps 45 minutes. Honestly it is driving me crazy!!! He used to be such a wonderful napper. His bed time is now about 7:30 or 7:45. I'm still nursing him and he nurses to sleep and first thing in the morning (trying to wean, but it's really hard). Can anyone please give me some good advice on getting him to nap longer. Should I still be putting him down at 1pm if he wakes up at 5:30? I don't have any free time to read a sleep book - I have a few and when he's up I can't read and when he's asleep I have too much to do or I'm just too tired.

Thanks in advance!!!


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answers from Bakersfield on

I agree with Muriel. Sleep begets sleep so hang in there, be consistent and this will soon pass. At 20 months (as in previous months), his growth spurts, cognitive and motor development keep him thinking/doing all the time. I would do just as Muriel suggests and not allow any bad habits to develop. Little ones have phases of light and deep sleep too and it sounds like his sleep is a little disrupted right now. One thing I would add is to consider how bright his room might be in the morning. Since my son's room faces the sunset, his room was too bright at night. A mom here suggested blackout curtains. I have vertical blinds that are set in, so the sunshine would come in around the sides. I know I wouldn't have been able to sleep had it been my time to go to bed. Likewise, sleeping in the morning is hard if it is too bright so consider some darker window covering that goes beyond the sides and edges with a valance at the top to keep the room nice and dark in the mornings. I didn't spend much money on our situation. I bought enough fabric to make a double panel curtain (the side facing out is tan and the inside is dark green). I also added a border at the bottom to be make the curtain a little longer than the window. I bought a curtain rod and rings and simply clipped the panels to the curtain. It has been a life saver for us and my son sleeps great. All the best to you and your little guy, M.

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answers from San Francisco on

Their sleep habits do change, don't they? Well, sleep attracts sleep, so the more he sleeps the more he'll want to sleep. And at his age he needs 12/14 hours a day. Try putting him to bed a 45-60 min. earlier, you would be surprised, he may sleep more because of it. Or, you could also give him a short morning nap (45 min.), at about 9:00, if it's not too disruptive to your day, then get him back on his 1:00 or 1:30 p.m. nap schedule. Be careful not to nurse him too much to sleep, as it could become a habit to him and the only way he'll go to sleep. Not good. Make sure he has a good meal before going to bed, so he's not hungry too early. He actually sounds like a pretty good sleeper; you haven't mentioned if he wakes in the night (mine did at 20 months!) And, like yours he got up early, too. I had him at a day care, but on weekends he usually took an afternoon nap of close to 2 hours. It's just a phase he's in now, for sure, but do keep in mind the more he sleeps the more he'll want to sleep and try to work with this. Keep putting him to bed at night early, too, before he gets over-tired as that's another good way to help regulate sleep patterns. I read a fantastic book on sleep, but the friend who lent it to me left the country and we're no longer in contact. The advice above comes from some of what I read from there (it helped me) and my own experiences. Sadly, the naps do get shorter or go completly as they get older. My 4½ year old doesn't even want to hear about one ... though he usually falls fast asleep if we take a drive after lunch! :-) Good luck.

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answers from San Francisco on

Greetings A.: My children have taken their new born to Lincoln to meet family this week. Will spend time in Wilbur too.
I have 5 children and have several Grandchildren. One thing I have learned is that when they decide to stop the need for naps nothing will change their sweet minds.
I have one Granddaughter who at 2 is so active she literally does not have time to stop and rest. We can read to her and give her quiet time but she doesn't sleep. Her mother keeps a fan going in her room for the gentle noise. It is so relaxing one of my adult daughters uses it for herself at night!I like to keep music on that is relaxing to sleep with.
I have a few ideas that I have done as a parent that might help with saving your sanity.
1. pick your time that you can rest, read, or do the dishes with out the child geing right there front and center. For me we called it the "Perry Mason Hour". Because the children knew when that show came on it was moms rest time and they could cuddle up with books or play with stuffed animals but no one bothered mom. Even my 16 month old understood this.
** they ran to tell me the show was over. (when one was 12 and the phone rang when the show was on she told the caller sorry call back when Perry Mason is over its her quiet time). SoI just unplugged the phone after that.
2. find a dome tent that you can use for nap time and make it a special treat to sleep in there. It does not have to be anything fancy. In fact my friend that taught me this -- took her boys beds out of the room and put up to tents with mattresses because they would not sleep in beds!

Just find your boundries and stick to them, some children want less rest some more but they all need time ( so do you) for their little bodies to be quiet. I hope that you will enjoy the great adventure of parenthood and all the twists and turns of it. I really believe it is the greatest thing I have ever done. Nana Glenda

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answers from San Francisco on

Maybe you should try an earlier nap. If he's getting up at 5:30, he might be over tired by 1:00. Try an earlier nap and then perhaps an earlier bed time as well.

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answers from San Francisco on

My 8 1/2 mo baby is an early riser too. But we sleep with him and I do whatever I can to buy some time. Sometimes he goes back to sleep if I cuddle or give him a bottle. We have cartoon pictures of animals all over our room and they often entertain him first thing in the morning. He also naps 3 times a day still.

When I need to get stuff done around the house I "rotate" him through different activities. I have the pack n play down stairs, a doorway jumper and a fischer price rainforest bouncy seat(he loves this!). Sometimes he will hang out in the high chair for a little bit too. I take trays off so he can grab his toes. By then it's usually time for a break-walk/visit to the park.

You might try some of these activities then you can get some rest during his naps!

Good luck,

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answers from Sacramento on


You need your sleep no matter what, but you may have to get clever( and you probably are for sure) and yes, sleep is critical for little guy,

During motor and language development, children often are so focused on the tasks at hand that they cannot sleep. It is the same adrenaline we experience the night or day before a big event. Also, during language spurts, the same part of the brain is growing where emotion is, so expect a lot of that. It is all real to them.

I am concerned you are going to get two types of responses...the get used to it ones and the long list of strict rules. I highly encourage you, despite your fatigue, set the to-do list aside, the need for the routine, though continue the routine that worked and be a flexible as YOU can, not anyone else...absorb this great period. It will pass. The nursing will pass...he will be on to new things before you know it ..and that is when we look back with blurry minds and wish we could snuggle them again.

The sleep may become less of a reality though. My son was a great napper until 5..late language...my daughter dropped naps at 2~ and can go all day and night. she has a lot of language. Often the busy ones are also able to play...and may play while you rest...

Perhaps a late afternoon respite with a responsible and well screen helper..for even 3 hours, will give you time to get a few things done and the nap you need...and your sweetie pie will go to sleep earlier..as long as he is not overtired. This may also pass and get him back on routine again..I would encourage naps but not die on the sword.

I do however, in our home, have a steady and early bedtime policy...all stuff is turn off by 6pm,,,toys, tv, media...eating,,then bath, brush, read...sleep 7-ish,,,again my son is out like a light and wakes up by 6 am and my daughter needs more unwinding time but she does it in bed with her many little babies and lovies..she would sleep in if I let her but I do get her up and sometimes on her 3 year old little self's time, gets up at 6:30 but she could if I let her, stay up late and sleep in..not practical until she is an adult and finds work for night owls...

Best of luck and get those extra naps on the weekends when dad is home.
William Jessup is a good source for caregivers btw

You two will figure out a plan together,

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answers from San Francisco on

I know when I can't sleep, I take potassium so I tried this on my daughter who was really not sleeping much at all. I used the Safeway "Mom-to-mom" grape electrolyte stuff. I did check with me ped and she said it was fine. Works like a charm every time. That and cell salts for teething - she never sleeps right when she's teething and that is a lot of the time. OK - good luck.

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answers from Sacramento on

You don't mention what his activity level is like during the day. It does sound like he is a busy, active boy, but what type of activities is he doing? Sometimes the type of activity can be helpful to the sleep pattern. Be sure he's getting plenty of outdoor time in the mornings. Play in the backyard is good, and also taking a good long walk with him... him walking, not you pushing him in a stroller, is a good idea. You indicate that he keeps you busy, so simply put most of your effort in the morning into keeping him busy at things that will tire him out enough that he'll sleep well in the afternoon. My daughter has even had her two girls run races from the patio to the fence and back to tire them out. She would keep them running fast for about five minutes before lunch, and by the time they were through eating, they were usually tired enough to settle down and sleep.

I would recommend keeping his nap schedule rather than changing it according to when he's waking. The ideas others have suggested about being sure his room is dark so he won't be awakened by the sunlight in the morning are good too.

These are all just suggestions but I hope some of what we are all saying will help you get some rest.

1 mom found this helpful
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