3 Year Old and Sleep Schedule

Updated on December 04, 2008
S.M. asks from Durango, CO
8 answers

Any ideas about my 3 year old's sleep schedule? I try to put him down about 2:30 with my 14 month old for a nap, but now he wants to stay up later and later and doesn't seem tired at night. I'm expecting so I need the nap if possible. Is he outgrowing naps by now? When he naps he goes out for 1.5 to 2 hours and I thought maybe I should wake him so he just gets a little recharge nap. Anyone have a similar issue?

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answers from New York on

Hi S.! My daughter will be 4 in Feb and we went through a similar period. Here's my take on it. He still needs a nap. Maybe not every day but he needs one. Don't give up. If he's occassionally insistent that he not nap then pop in Peter Pan and make him lay with you while you rest. But make sure he naps the next day. Bribe him if you have to - his favorite snack when he wakes up, a game when daddy gets home - whatever works. After a couple months, just when I was convinced that she was really ready to give them up, she's back to asking for them - telling me when she's ready to go down. Also, it's my opinion that you don't wake a sleeping child. If you don't have to be somewhere and he's not sleeping within 3 hours of bedtime then let him wake on his own. If he's still out then he needs the rest.

And finally, if he doesn't nap, plan to move bedtime up at least a 1/2 hour earlier. He may not appear more tired by his normal bedtime but it may be because he's already gotten a "second wind". If you catch him before it he'll go down a lot easier.

I'm guessing she was just going through a slow growth period or maybe it was just the time of year. I know some days it was becasue she thought she was missing out on something. If you let him stay up one or two days while you pretend to nap he may realize "this is all that happens while I'm napping?" and decide he might as well nap too if everyone else is doing it!

Hope this helps! Good luck and best wishes!



answers from New York on

I bet he's almost ready to stop the naps. But that doesn't mean you can't have your break! When you put him in his bed, explain that everyone is having a quiet time right then. That he can nap, or read (leave some books with him), but that he must be super quiet until you come get him. Then leave for an hour. If he complains, or comes out of the room, firmly put him back in his bed and explain it again. Be very consistent about this, and I would do it at the same time each day. He will figure it out, and will probably fall asleep half the time anyways! Also, consider making that nap a bit earlier. I think 1:00 is the perfect afternoon nap time, because then they're sleepy by bedtime.

I wouldn't wake him up , though. Let sleeping kids be! :)



answers from New York on

Both my kids had dropped daytime napping before they were 3, and that was the experience of most of my friends with their kids too. If he's not tired at night it sounds like he is ready to go all day without a nap, and probably sleep a bit longer at night instead.
Try bringing bedtime earlier. My 3 (going on 4) year old is in bed by 7 in the evening, sometimes a little earlier, and will sleep til at least 7 the next morning and often as late as 8 am or later if we don't have to go out too early.



answers from New York on

My 3-1/2 year old and 2 year old nap from 1-3 (srarted doing this at 4 months pld thanks yo daycare). They wake up at 7 & go to bed at 8. I'm of the opinion that kids need a nap until they go to school (kids at daycare nap until they leave for school). Sometimes my 3 year old can't fall asleep at naptime (usually on preschool days). Our rule is that he has to lie quietly and rest for at least an hour.
YOU need this one hour break - especially with the new baby coming (I have a 2-month old).
Good luck & congratulations.



answers from Binghamton on

Hi S.,

My daughter just turned 4, and she gave up naps about 8 months ago. She has a younger sister and I always wished she would have kept napping longer so that I could have a little break, but that is just the age they start giving them up. My daughter may nap a couple of times a month, but nothing I can predict or put her down for.

However, your son is old enough now that he should be able to have a quiet time so that you can snooze a little bit. Whether it is looking at books, playing quietly with his toys, or even watching TV, anything that can keep him occupied might give you just the break you are looking for. Just remember to lock the doors to your house, child proof every area he has access to, and sleep with one eye and ear open! My daughter watches a little bit of TV during her sister's nap, and I'll admit that I lay next to her and fall asleep sometimes (I'm pregnant too, so I know what you mean about needing the rest). On the days when I do this, she has a tendency to fall asleep too.

step mom to 1, mother to 4 (#5 on the way in March)



answers from Albany on

I totally agree! My three year old stopped napping pretty much as soon as he turned three - much to my disappointment!! He still has his quiet time though....he lays on the couch and watches a cartoon while I get some time on the computer or getting dishes done or whatever. Good luck!



answers from New York on

Hi S.,
It's normal for children to be ready to give up napping at 3 years old, and a 3 year old doesn't need the same amount of sleep as a 1 year old.
When my younger child was turning 4, he was ready to give up his nap - a full year older than his sister was, but I was going through chemotherapy at the time and needed the rest, so I instituted a quiet hour in the afternoon. He had to rest in his bed, he could look at books or play quietly with stuffed animals. Sometimes we'd watch a video together in my bed. There's nothing wrong with having a quiet time even if he isnt using it to sleep. You might also look into nursery schools that are in session during a time where your 1 year old is napping, so you have some time with one sleeping and one out of the house.
Good luck



answers from New York on

Hi S.!! I understand that you would like that nap, but your son may have other plans! :) He very well may be done with naps... Both of my sons gave up naps around age 2 1/2... maybe you can try having him do something for "quiet time".. reading in his room, coloring.. something quiet and in his room....

good luck!

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