3 Year old...naps...bedtime

Updated on August 07, 2012
A.L. asks from Downers Grove, IL
8 answers

I'm going crazy. My 3 year old has always had a hard time falling asleep at night. It takes him about an hour on a good day. For a while he would just lay in bed and talk, then he realized he could get out and find his books and open blinds, etc. Then once he was potty trained, he started using that as an excuse to get out of his room and sit on the toilet forever. Here's what's happening now. He wakes up around 7/7:30am. Usually naps around 1:30/2pm for 1.5-2 hours. Last week or so he has been fighting naps but still eventually falls asleep. EVERY time he wakes up, morning and after naps, he is angry. He cries, yells at everyone to go away and sometimes even hits. So I thought maybe he is just done with naps and they are disrupting his "cycle". So Saturday he didn't nap. He was fine but my mom watched him and he didn't fall asleep til 9pm then was up at 7am (he made her tell him 10 stories :)
Sunday he didn't nap and he was a little more tired than the day before and actually fell asleep in the car around 7pm (he never sleeps in the car) and slept til 7am. Today he was miserably tired from the moment he woke up. So I put him down for an early nap at 12:30 but he kept coming out of his room, then started getting mad again so I laid down with him to calm him down and he fell asleep round 1:30PM for an hour and a half. Put him to bed at 7:45pm and it again took him ab out an hour to fall asleep.
Anyway, should I have just kept him up today too? He just seemed so tired but it seems that even today the nap interfered with him falling asleep. Usually, if he missed a nap, he falls asleep within 15 minutes. I'm just so sick of fighitng with him every time it's time for sleep. But I feel that if I don't force it, then I have to deal with a mean angry preschooler :)

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answers from St. Louis on

as a childcare provider, I try very hard to keep the kids on a nap schedule to coordinate with the KG schedule. If napping becomes difficult or affects bedtime, then the child has to have quiet time for about 45 minutes....

& I am adamant that it is "quiet time"....time spent laying on their cot without books/etc....until the other kids are asleep. Then I lighten up & allow quiet activities....both on the cot & at the table.

At age 3, all of the children are still napping solidly....& this usually lasts until the 4th birthday without affecting behavior/bedtime. But on the other hand, these kids are all up & at my house between 7-8am....& don't leave until 5:30. Makes for a long day for them. :)

Oh, & I find that we have to have adequate "outside" time ....or we're all miserable.

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answers from Dallas on

My son simply can't nap. It really effects his ability to fall asleep at night. Instead of naps, he has 1-1/2 hours of "quiet time." He has to sit on his bed and play quietly. Usually, he looks at books or drives cars on his mattress. This really gives him more energy. Without quiet time, he definitely gets cranky.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Ummm, I think you have my son :)

We're going through the EXACT same thing with my 3 yr old. I am leaning more towards dropping the naps, but some days he needs them, and other days he doesn't. Today he didn't nap, but I did lay with him for about 30 min for some quiet time. Bed time is MUCH easier if he doesn't nap, and I can put him down to sleep around 7 pm.



answers from Oklahoma City on

In my opinion he's going to bed way early but if that's what you want then it's what he needs to do.

If he is not tired he is not going to go to sleep on demand. He is not capable of "making" himself go to sleep. He evidently does not need as much sleep as you want him to have.

I think he needs to continue the nap and then go to bed a bit later. Laying him down around 8 is okay but do realize he is going to still be awake at 9. That was you can plan your evening a bit better. Knowing you are going to be dealing with him in his transition time that hour will allow you to move your stuff around so you can manage this better.

He is just not going to sleep 12 hours in a row at this age. He just does not need that much sleep anymore. Plus the 2 hour nap he's sleeping about 14 hours per day. That is way too much for an active 3 year old.



answers from Honolulu on

My son is a napper and always has been since he was a baby.

Keep in mind, that lack of sleep... tends to COMPOUND daily. So lack of sleep on one day, may mean being overtired the next day or two. Then, the child has to make up for sleep... and catch up for sleep.
Then lack of sleep again, on any given day, will compound and domino to the next day or two.
ie: if a kid is tired today.... it could ALSO be that they are actually tired from the day BEFORE, yesterday. But did not get to, catch up on their sleep. Hence they get... real, crabby. And for some overtired kids... being over-tired actually makes them more "hyper." That is how my son is when over-tired. AND he gets grumpy and more irritable.

For my kids, if they lack sleep on a particular day, they are over tired or GRUMPY for the next day, or two. And it takes, a day or two, for them to CATCH up, on their sleep.

So, on any given day... a child's nap or sleep "needs" may vary.
So go by your child's cues.
That is what I do.
My daughter and son, are different, and both handle being over-tired differently, and their nap needs, vary. Also per age. As a child gets older... they can "ignore" being tired even if they are tired, more. But may still "need" rest.
So look out for that.

My son is 5, almost 6... and he will still nap on weekends when he needs to. No battles. He naps in the afternoon and his naps last about 2 hours. And he still goes to bed at night just fine, like at 8:00pm.
At 3 years old, my son still napped everyday, in the afternoon. Without battles. And he still went to bed fine at night at a normal hour.

Also keep in mind... well at least per my kids... if/when they had a nap... and if/when they woke from the nap in a FUSSY mood... it was because... they were still tired or over-tired and/or did not have a good restful nap.

Each kid is different... but that is how my kids are.
And sleep/nap needs may vary each day and depending on their activities that day.

But lack of sleep or sleep deprivation in kids... often leads to a compounded.... lack of sleep the following days and it takes time... for the child to make-up for that lack of sleep. Like the next day or two.

If not napping... a child ALSO needs to have a time, to just DEFLATE. And to just, relax... in their own way. Just like adults, after a hard day's work.



answers from Atlanta on

I have ever ha a problm wth my kids napping and sleepin becaus Ifollow the rsame outine everday..wake a 9, nap at 12, nap over at 2, bedim a 9. I put them to sleep at these time regardless of if they wanna go or not. I simplysay "NIGHT NIGHT". They are scared to get out of bed because they know that they will be in big trouble.Mama dont play that. LOL. Be firm with your kid,set some rules an follow it everyday



answers from Stationed Overseas on

I have to seriously disagree with some of the previous answers. My daughter is almost 4 and still naps everyday 1:30-4 and then goes to bed at 7:30pm and sleeps until 7:30am. She needs the sleep. She has always been this way. If she misses her nap she is a wreck and is even worse when putting her to bed. We are also super active during the day which is probably why she sleeps so much.
I would ask how does he wake up? Does he wake up on his own or is someone waking him up? If I wake up my daughter she is pissed off but if she wakes on her own and has plenty of time to wake on her own then she's great. Also if he's used to napping and then not all of a sudden that lack of sleep is compounded and gets worse with each passing day which would make him overtired. I think you need to stick with a schedule of either napping or not. One or the other. My daughter does some resisting sometimes but usually only when she thinks she missing out on something. I always tell her you don't have to nap but you have to have some quiet time. She almost always naps. Sometimes she plays quietly in her room before going to bed and that's fine too as long as she's just winding down from the day and not building a fort for her stuffed animals LOL.


answers from Grand Forks on

At the age of three both my boys had dropped naps and slept from 10:00pm to 8:00am. Sometimes if they had a really busy day they might fall asleep in the car, or go to bed a bit earlier, but for the most part they only required 10 hours sleep a day. Not all kids need to sleep 12 or more hours a day. As for him being cranky after a nap, that is me. If I am really tired and happen to fall asleep during the day for a nap, you better avoid me for the rest of the day, because naps put me in a foul mood!

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