4 Year Old Refusing Naps

Updated on March 05, 2010
C.M. asks from Anchorage, AK
22 answers

Hi Moms,
I have a daughter who turned 4 on Oct 26th... For the last couple of months she has been refusing to take naps. I have tried everything I can think of to help her sleep, or reward her for napping, but it isnt working. I know she NEEDS to still take a nap because by 5 o'clock she can barely function!! HELP!! Any ideas and suggestions would be MUCH appreciated!

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answers from San Antonio on

Her body rhythms might be such that she's not tired until 4 or 5 in the afternoon. She needs quiet time more than a nap. Tell her she has to lay down in a quiet room but she does't need to sleep. Sometimes she'll sleep and sometimes not, but if not, you can always put her to bed for the night at 6 p.m. Listen to her body. I know as a mom it is hard to lose the nap, but it's normal to lose the need at this age. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Corvallis on

I ran a daycare for almost 10 yrs and would run into this issue. I would make the children have quiet time. I would put a kid friendly movie on and they have to stay quiet through the movie. If they really are tired they usually wil fall sleep. They always got some rest even if they didnt fall asleep.

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answers from Portland on

I would do a quiet time also each day. Something quiet in her room, alone for maybe 30 minutes or so.

Also, my daughter would often seem ready for a meltdown around 5pm without an afternoon nap. We found that making sure she sat down for a snack before that time helped a lot.

If you have been at home most of the day, try getting outside for a walk or playing in the park for a little while. If you have been outside already, then try a quiet time.

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answers from Honolulu on

Do a quiet time. EVERY afternoon. Nothing turned on.
Just quiet.
Have her in her room or let her be in a comfy spot wherever.
And, you tell her you are going to nap too, or rest.
Then do so. Lie down on a couch or curl up on a chair.
She will probably doze off that way.

Or maybe she is just not needing a nap everyday, now at this age... and can then go to bed earlier.

My daughter, well she napped until through 1st grade. She is 7 now... but still on occasion naps. When tired. She is so active and pooped out after a long day of school etc.
So, with both my kids though, every afternoon is quiet time.
And my daughter will doze... even if not prompted. I don't force it at all... but it is our daily routine.
Or I simply tell my kids that MOMMY is going to "nap" and rest and then I just go and collapse on the couch & close my eyes. So, since I am not "fun" anymore.. .my kids go and nap too.

My son is 3 and still naps. He cannot make it a full day if he does not nap.

All the best,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Medford on

MIne wouldn't nap at four either. Give her quiet time in the afternoon. The worst thing you can do is get into a battle of wills over something that she truly has control over. It is always a risky thing to teach children to be good by doing what someone else tells them to do with their bodies.

I would consider getting more exercise earlier in the day - say the hour before you would like her to nap. Her mind may be tired but her body is still gogogogo.

Also, make sure you are not giving her chocolate or sugar after lunch. These are high energy foods that also lead to crashes later.

Getting pushy or tense about it will only bring in another negative to deal with for both of you.

Help her to learn to listen to her body and respect her no. Find a co-operative solution: You can play quietly in your room, no tv, radio etc from 3-4 and nap or rest if you want but no coming out of the room. It helped in our family.

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answers from Los Angeles on

What did you do before that worked? My baby is only one year old, so I don't know how useful this would be, but she can go a long time without a nap. We know that she needs to sleep, so many times we would just put her in her crib and let her cry herself to sleep. My husband says that if it's been fifteen minutes and she still sounds quite awake, to get her out. Most of the time, though, she does fall asleep, and when she wakes up she is happier and more pleasant. Sometimes she only sleeps for half an hour or so, but for us that is better than nothing. My father-in-law said that my husband could go a long time without sleep, too. I guess that is where she got it from. I know it might not very helpful because of the age difference, but I hope it helped at least a little bit.

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answers from Medford on

Most 4 year olds and even younger (that I know and have heard of) dont take naps anymore. My daughter who just turned 5 takes really good naps everyday at daycare (sleeps at least 1.5 hours). When she turned 4 we decided that as long as she was napping at daycare during the week that she could have a "movie" rest on Saturday and a sleeping nap on Sunday. She gets to lay down in the playroom for 1 hour (sometimes she stays longer) and watch a movie while brother (2.5 sleeps). If its been a crazy busy day or she just seems tired, we will make her take a "sleeping" rest, which now means that she stays in her bed with the lights off...she usually gets down and takes toys to bed with her, but as long as she is quiet we dont mind. Most kids at this age still need rest time, but sleeping is going to hard to get them to do. I think you should try alternating days where she actually needs to go to sleep vs days where she can just rest...



answers from Tulsa on

I am going through the same thing with my 3 yr. old. I am a big supporter of kids napping because they need many more hours of sleep than adults. They can be effected developmentally if they don't get enough sleep. So, to me, it's a big issue if the kiddo's don't nap. J has started just not sleeping during naptime. But he does sleep at Mothers-Day -Out occassionaly. When he doesn't nap he's tired by 6 and will fall over asleep and then wake up a bit later refreshed and stay awake until after midnight runnig around like a crazy fool.

I just keep trying to work in the rest time. Maybe you can do a very busy gross motor activity every morning, like going to McDonalds with a playground. You can have special time and get Apple slices or a yogurt with fruit and eat then let him play.

I have relatives from Anchorage and I know what it's like this time of the year, my sister went to college there and raced on the ice. She beat the Powder Puff Instructor the first time she got in the car. It may also be he is not getting the sunlight like in the summer. Talk to your pediatrician and see if non sleep is a possible outcome of the constant twilight.



answers from Seattle on

When I checked out of the napping scene at age 3, my mother and I reached a compromise. I could stay awake if I was willing to play quietly in my room for an hour and a half. Usually, before the allotted time was done, I had fallen asleep, and mom got the break she needed regardless. Sometimes quiet time will serve the same purpose as a nap and give your child the energy and focus she needs to complete the day.



answers from Seattle on

My daughter napped until she was 4 1/2. I had to lay down with her for the last year or so. She has always been one to refuse sleep, so I had to "help" her relax and fall asleep. Just like your daughter, evenings were difficult if she didn't get a nap. We did transition her out with putting her to bed about 30-60 minutes earlier, depending on her exhaustion of the evening. j

If you can enforce quiet time, or book time, then that would work well too. Good luck! Transitioning out of naptimes is rough.


answers from Seattle on

I think you were lucky that she would nap for you untill 4. My son gave up napping around 3. Than we did "quite time", from 2 - 4 pm was quite time - books, coloring, drowing and etc. and yes, from time to time, when he is very tired, he would take a nap. Hope that helps. Good luck!



answers from Fort Wayne on

My son quit taking naps before he was 3, and my daughter was 3 1/2. Have you tried to adjust her out of them? With my kids, their bedtime was 8:00 and they slept until 7:30 or 8 in the morning



answers from New York on

Most 4 year olds don't nap. If she's going to be in kindergarten in 7 months, you need to figure out how to arrange her sleep schedule so that she can get by without the nap. I woudn't offer rewards. I would still have a quiet hour each day where she has to stay in bed with books, stuffed animals, and perhaps an earlier bedtime would help (you may find she doesn't actually wake earlier). My oldest stopped napping just before she turned 3 and my youngest, right around the time he turned 4.



answers from Portland on

I contacted a sleep consultant when my daughter was going through something similar. What we ended up doing was giving her quiet time for 1 - 1 1/2 hours each day. If she slept during that time, she'd have her regular bedtime, if she didn't sleep, she'd go to bed at 6!!! It wasn't presented as a punishment at all. She rarely napped and we just got used to a very early bedtime. It was a challenge to get three kids fed dinner in time for her to go to bed that early but it was so clearly what she needed that we kept doing it. And she'd sleep in until the same or even later time than she had been before. Best of all, her personality was more pleasant to be around. The sleep consultant told us to keep that super-early bedtime until she could consistently make it past 5 pm without melting down. She ended up on a 6pm bedtime from about 4 years old until about 3 months after she turned 5. Good luck!


answers from Bismarck on

I would love it if my kids still took naps at that age! lol. I have a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a 6 week old. My 5 year old hasn't taken naps for a couple years. Once in awhile for punishment we will make him go lay down and he will fall asleep, but most of the time he will just lay in his bed awake for hours. Same with the 3 year old, once in awhile he will fall asleep watching tv or in the car, but it is not a regular thing. They have decided that they just don't need them anymore... Sorry, but I think naps are done. I wish they never ended!



answers from York on

I have an almost 4yr old too and yes its hard what I do Is I lay her down at least an hour and a half before her usual naptime and let her lay there and evenually she falls asllep usaully right before her naptime.also play some calming music that should help



answers from Austin on

My older boy stopped way before he turned 4 and my three year old only takes a nap once or twice a week. You can't make them sleep. You can, however, enforce "quiet time". Ours is from 12:30-2 every day. He either falls asleep or plays quietly on the floor.
It has to happen sometime!



answers from Detroit on

you might want to borrow the book healthy sleep habits happy child from the library.. it covers sleep in kids from infancy through schooll age.. but you just need to read a couple of pages... for your problem

this is quite normal... kids at 3or 4 start giving up their naps.. but they may not be ready to giveup thier naps...

so.. if she doesnt nap put her to bed earlier.. 1/2 hour to an hour earlier... most kids get up at the same time of day no matter when they go to bed.. so she will likely get up at the same time.

move her naptime later in the day.. if she used to nap at 1pm.. move naptme to 2 pm.. soshe will be more tired... she might only need a short 1/2 an hour nap now.. but those few minutes might really help her be a better person for the rest of the day..

I have a 2 1/2 and a 4 year old.. they still both nap for 3hours. But it is unusuall for 4 year olds to sleep thatmuch..



answers from Grand Rapids on

My 3yo is doing the same thing. I tell her she has to have rest time. She has to go in her room and lay down for a little while 20-30 minutes and if she doesn't fall asleep I let her get back up. This seems to help most days and if she really is tired enough she will endup taking a nap.



answers from Seattle on

Consider yourself lucky she has napped for this long. My son stopped taking naps a month after turning 3. We just did a quiet time of relaxing for an hour or so in the afternoon. As she gets used to being up all day, she'll adjust her night time sleep and probably sleep a little longer. As well, you can start putting her to sleep at night earlier to help.



answers from Seattle on

Well, it may be time to let the nap go. Let her try it for a week without the nap. She probably will need to go to bed earlier and will be crabbier than ..... You will have to figure out something to do with yourself when she gets crabby and you want to yell at her. It may be by the end of the week that she is managing well without a nap, then the question is can you manage it without her taking a nap.


answers from St. Louis on

Stop giving her naps. If she truly needs them, she's start taking them or falling asleep where ever she is!

My 2.5 year old takes naps during the week but never on the weekends (the only time we're all together as a family) so we stopped pushing it. In the afternoons around the time we'd put her down, we have her watch a cartoon or two or read books. She will usually fall asleep or when she starts to show she's tired, we tell her she can lay in her bed if she wants to rest and we'll leave the door open. Often she'll go in there and nap!

If your daughter is a bear at 5pm (as our daughter is often without naps), try putting her in a bath to wake her up, take her outside or do exercise (if the rest / watching tv doesn't work).

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