Should I Cut My 33 Month Old's Nap?

Updated on June 23, 2016
G.L. asks from Woodside, NY
21 answers

My daughter is 33 months old and still takes a mid afternoon nap, which is at least 1hr but sometimes can last 2+ hrs, depending on how her night sleep went. The problem is, when she naps, she is not tired at bedtime. 8:00, 8:30, 9:00, 9:30. She's just not tired. So she will fall asleep late and still wake up early, only having 9-9 1/2 hrs night sleep, and is just cranky all day. Even after her nap, by late afternoon she is just a mess. The couple of nights where she actually got 10+ hours of sleep, enabled her to skip her nap the next day, and fell asleep no problem that night. No crankiness at all. I would like to get to that point again but I feel we're stuck in this rut and I don't know how to get out. Like last night she went to bed 9:30, woke up this morning 6:30, and it's now 10:30 and she's already taking her nap! I'm so confused! I need help!!

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So What Happened?

After a week of letting her take 45 minute naps in the stroller, her night sleep has grown to almost 11 hours! It's beautiful! She'll go to bed around 8:30 no problem and sleep solid till 7-7:30! I'm just amazed. Thanks ladies for all the advice!

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answers from New York on

If you do want to cut out that nap, you need to schedule something that she will really want to do at that time (pool, slip and slide, park) so that the will get through that time without a nap. Then have a quiet period - reading books but not laying down. Then early bedtime.

Good luck!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

When it's too hot for the park, time to get out squirt guns, water balloons or just the hose and get wet. We used to play London Bridge with the water hose.

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answers from Wausau on

This advice may feel counter-intuitive but it often works. When a very young child isn't getting enough sleep in a 24 hour period, try putting them to bed later. Seriously. An 8pm bedtime is too early for the natural sleep cylcle of many littles.

When my kids were under age 4, their natural cycle leaned towards a bedtime closer to 10pm. My first kid rarely napped, the second was a good napper, but both had late bedtimes. They slept better and longer when put to bed later in the evening.

Give a try for a week or two and see how it goes. Good luck with your little crabby pants.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

How is her physical activity during the day? Maybe take her out to run and play around 10am....or, have her run around btwn 3 and 5pm. But to specifically answer your question I'd say yes to cutting her nap short.

My daughter is now 7 but she was an awesome napper as an infant and toddler. She would nap for 2-3 hours per day in one chunk. Somewhere along the line your daughter's napping went side ways. I hope that in increasing her walking and play time she'll get back on track.

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answers from Miami on

Your almost 3 year old needs consistent naps and bedtimes. Don't let her nap more than an hour. Don't let her nap before lunch time. Put her to bed at 9:00 pm.

Get her out of the house in the mornings. She needs fresh air and needs to run around. This will keep her awake through lunch. Then take her back outside after her hour nap to get her refreshed. DON'T put her down at 8:00. Get her in the bath, brushing teeth, etc so that you can delay putting her to bed too early. You need to put her down at the same time every night. You are in charge of putting her to bed. Don't put her in charge of deciding when she's going to go to bed.

Keep this schedule religiously. A week should get her used to it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You posted about this in January, and in June you're still dealing with it. I realize she was sick in the middle of this time frame, and you had a bout of her waking at 5:30 AM. Still, you're back in the same problem are from last winter. So I think it's clear that she's outgrown the need for the nap - and you have enough evidence that she will sleep uninterrupted if you put her to bed earlier (around 8 PM) and be perky in the morning. I think it will also give you some evening time.

That doesn't mean you need to go full-tilt all day - she can still have some quiet time with books or puzzles to try to recharge a little. So how are you stuck? Is she asking for the nap? Is she wanting to climb into bed? If not, just don't go into her room at nap time - stay away from it so she doesn't think about it. Maybe if you invest in a couple of new activities and just forget about the nap, it will be easier. What do you usually do during her nap? If you use that time to cook dinner, try to prep some stuff the night before and change up your afternoon routine.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

She is not getting enough sleep total. Sounds to me like she goes to bed too late - should be closer to 7pm. Does she have a good bedtime routine? If you want to try no nap - than enforce a quiet hour. Here are some sample schedules.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I went through periods with mine where I didn't put them down for naps - they just rested with me and I was kind of low key, and kind of quiet. If they drifted off, it was for short naps. That was around this age. But it wasn't in their beds. It was just on our main floor, and it was a cat nap. Got them through the day without them becoming cranky - but if they didn't drift off, then they just had quiet time - which I kind of needed too. Sometimes I read. But sometimes I just puttered. But you can read, or even put on a quiet kind of movie for them.

I only tried to figure out sleeping patterns with my first. After that, I just sort of let them do what they were going to do and went with it. I know that's not very helpful but it's the truth. You might go through a rough week, but if you let her adjust to her own internal schedule, it might work better.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

That's when I decided my child was done napping! My oldest stopped napping when he was about 3 1/2, but my youngest was 2.

The first few days were a little harder. We had to deal with some late afternoon crankiness. But it was so worth it! After those first few days I had much happier kids who slept 11 to 12 hours at night! It was wonderful!

Maybe you could try no nap for a few days and see how it goes.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

nither of my kids would take a nap past age 2, they dropped the nap, were cranky before bedtime for a few days then ajusted and went to bed easily for quite sometime after that.
drop the nap have patience thru the ajustment period and move on.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Since she is nearly 3 years old she is going to cut down on her sleep time. That is her entire day and how many hours of sleep she needs.

If you are putting her down at 8 and expecting her to sleep until at least 8am then have a 2 hour nap that is WAY too many hours of sleep for a pre-school age child.

Toddlers and infants still need more sleep but once a child is 2 or 3 they are going to need less sleep.

She should still lay down after lunch and rest. Obviously her body needs it or she wouldn't be falling asleep. Kids that are not tired do not fall asleep.

So adjust her bedtime to when you want her to wake up. If you want her up at 6am to go to child care then you'd want her to go down early in the evening. If you want her to sleep until 8am or later then you'll want her to go to bed around 9 or 10. 10pm-8am is still 10 hours of sleep.

Pre-school age children do not sleep more than 10 hours at night. Then take that nap during the day because they're tired and that nap combined with the overnight hours is over 12 hours of her day asleep.

12 hours + sleep per day is too many hours of sleep for a nearly 3 year old child.

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answers from Washington DC on

sorry - but it TRULY drives me nuts when people refer to a 2.5 year old as a "33 month old" - once you've hit 12 months - using YEARS is fine. She's NOT a baby anymore. She's a toddler.

At ALMOST 3 years old? My boys were going to be at 9PM. They have a routine - still do - and they are 16 and 14 now. Bath, brush, book, bed.

She's growing. Her schedule will change as she goes through growth spurts. As long she's not napping at 4PM? She should be fine. Gauge her day and how she behaves. She may be trying to "grow up" so she doesn't miss anything.

You can take her to the park - just bring plenty of fluids and sunscreen!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

At 3 years old, just do quiet time. I do that with my granddaughters who are 2 1/2 and 4. No one needs to nap, just rest for an hour. Try that. Usually works well with 3 yo and up.

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answers from New York on

Try a kiddie pool for her to splash around in when the weather is hot. You don't even need to fill it with a lot of water. I got a used one from a garage sale for $5.00. It was great.

Do you let her run in the house? I ask because we used to have the best hallway races. We would use the longest hallway in the house to run down, jump, and skip. Does she have a tricycle? If she did she could ride it up and down the hall on the days she has to be inside longer. My favorite thing to do with little ones like her is blow bubbles. I blow the bubbles and let them chase after them. This can be done inside and outside as well. They get exhausted. I get a break and it is a wonderful time for all.



answers from Indianapolis on

It's time to cut her naps. A 45 min to an hour is probably enough. My daughter stopped napping when she was 3. She just couldn't fall asleep so I instituted quiet time. She had to spend time doing a quiet activity like reading a book or playing with one of her educational toys. Sometimes I would let her watch a movie with Lion King being her favorite at that age. Good luck.



answers from Pittsburgh on

She is not getting enough sleep. Three year olds still need 10.5 - 12.5 hours of nighttime sleep and most still need 1-3 hours of daytime (nap) sleep for a total of 11-14 yours of sleep per day. Napping does NOT cause children to sleep poorly at night. It sounds like you need to get her onto a routine and it may take a few days (or week) of miserable days to do it. You might try increasing her morning activity (get her outdoors, running around) - get her tired and don't let her sleep and then nap time right after lunch. Then pick a bedtime that works for you and you can stick to. Since it is light out so late right now, I would pick something like 8:30- 9:00 pm unless you will need to wake her in the morning early for daycare. When my son was that age he slept 12 hours a night and a solid 2 hour nap (sometimes 3 if we had an active day).



answers from Amarillo on

When my daughter was that age many years back, I had a routine that we did daily. I had a daily chores schedule so that certain things were done that kept the home clean and tidy. Included were meal planning (from scratch meals), laundry, diapers (the cloth kind), and making bread.

We had lunch and did a nap. After the nap, I prep or start the evening meal and we all went to the park for about two hours and they played their hearts out on all the swings and slide (it was a taller one than in the states). I was afraid for her the first time I found her on top. The only thing I could do was to convince her to come down and do it without showing my fear. She did well and from then on away she went. Dad would pick us up and bring us home on his way home from work.

You as the mother have to plan and schedule the daily routine that runs in your home to make it go. That includes the length of time for the nap(s) you might need one yourself.

Good luck to you on planning your day.

the other S.


answers from New York on

I wouldn't be surprised if the naps fade out sooner than you think too, so be on the look out.

As far as your so what happened, some of my indoor faves for that age are putting masking tape down in the floor in the hallway like a balance beam for her. Put the couch cushions or a mat on floor and teach/practice somersaults & then also teaching jumping jacks is funny and really hard so the younger the better helps for their coordination, in my opinion. Hopping and balancing on one leg is also a good one! Just make it fun.


answers from Los Angeles on

When my kids were that age they had already stopped napping and they slept 10 hours at night. I offered them a "quiet time" in the afternoon while I made supper, and once in a while if they were really tired they might have a nap.


answers from Santa Fe on

I only cut my kid's naps when they simply refused to sleep. You can't force someone to fall asleep. I made them have quiet time instead. So really they cut out their own naps themselves. I simply found they did not sleep anymore. I'm glad the earlier nap is working well for you. We find that swimming every day at the pool is a great way for kids to burn energy in the summer. We also go out in the evening after dinner for a walk. Our kids will scooter, ride bikes, rollerblades, etc. Your almost 3 year old can walk along with you (or ride a push tricycle?) and burn some energy. We will walk to a playground next to our neighborhood sometimes. Some evenings we go back to the pool...either after dinner or we have a picnic dinner at the pool.



answers from Washington DC on

I'd cut the nap and put her to bed at 7.

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