Weaning 4 Year-old off Nap

Updated on April 04, 2011
J.P. asks from East Meadow, NY
7 answers

I have yet another sleep question :) My daughter turns 4 next month and sometimes takes an afternoon nap. She wakes up everyday at @ 6:30am and will go to sleep easily by 6:30pm at night if she doesnt take a nap. If she does nap (which usually involves a HUGE fight to get her to take one) she will have trouble falling asleep until 8pm or 9pm (regardless of the length of the nap) but still wake up at 6:30am the next day. The problem is, she REQUIRES 12-13 hours of total sleep. Without it, she is an off-the-wall, cranky mess all day.
My pediatrician said to be consistent...no naps (and early bedtime) or a nap (and later bedtime) every day. I'm choosing the first option but it's so hard to get her to sleep so early (especially with a 10-month old around) and I find that she is still acting cranky during the day. Is this part of the adjustment? Will it get better? Any tips/advice/support would be greatly appreciated :)

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So What Happened?

So I've been trying to be consistent yet push the bedtime a bit later but today she was soooo exhausted that I had to give her a nap. She slept for 1.5 hours and now she is still up...tossing and turning for about an hour and cannot fall asleep. Yet I know her, she will still wake up at 6:30 (like she always does) and will be a MESS. If I try to encourage another nap tomorrow it will be a huge fight and another late bedtime/early wake-up, etc. I feel like I don't know how to make this cycle stop!

More Answers



answers from New York on

I say let her nap and sleep later, but it seems that neither option is easy! Good luck!



answers from Oklahoma City on

When she starts kindergarten she will be required to lay down for rest time. Some kids don't take naps but they are required to try the first half of the year. I think weaning off the nap is not the choice I would make.

She is old enough to go to bed much later. The nap is the choice I would make to keep and move bedtime to a bit later.

If she really gets up at 6:30 every morning and requires 12-13 hours of sleep then without the nap she needs to go to bed by 5:30 pm. That's just not a good schedule for any child. She needs her evening hours for play with her parents and to have a bedtime routine that includes bathing, transition time like reading books and quiet time to relax her.

It's just my opinion of course but I could not function with a child having to be home and asleep the by 5:30pm-6:30pm.


answers from Seattle on

It takes a while to adjust to no nap.

I agree with your pediatrician, be consistent with what you choose. Your daughter will fall into a natural rhythm of awake and sleep and it will be easier for her to fall asleep come bedtime.

Good luck it's always hard when you're trying to wrangle two kiddo's at bedtime.

R. M. - Parenting Consultant & Children's Sleep Specialist



answers from Honolulu on

My son is like that. My son is 4.
Except, he naps everyday. In the afternoon. After my daughter gets home from school and he naps 2 hours.
If not, he is a total fussy Troll.

He still does go to bed however, by 8:30.

To me, there is no either or.
If she needs to nap, she should be able to.
If she does not need a nap, then fine. No nap.
But you can have a quiet time.

Also, shouldn't the 10 month old be napping, too, in the afternoon?
You can synchronize, their naps.
I did that when I had my 2nd child. My daughter was 3 at the time and shortly after turned 4. I always, synchronized their naps, in the afternoon.

A baby, naps more & more frequently than a 4 year old. So you have the opportunity, to synchronize their naps. To be at the same time.

Or, from now on don't have her nap.
Then she goes to bed at 6:30pm.
So then, you need to feed her dinner, much earlier and doing everything much earlier.
You said: "she will go to sleep easily by 6:30pm at night if she doesn't take a nap."
Then you said : you are choosing the first option, "but its so hard to get her to sleep early" with the baby around.

All I know is: my son is very regular... about naps and sleeping. If he lacks both, he gets very cranky. So, therefore, I do let him nap. There have been many times, where HE will even tell me "Mommy I want to nap. I am tired." or "I want to go to bed already. I'm tired."

I think whenever a child needs to nap or need extra sleep, they should get that. Go by your child's cues.

What the heck is your Husband doing? Can't he help put your eldest child to bed??? Because you have a baby too.

When you have 2 kids, you either put them to bed at the same time, or you stagger it.
AND/or, have your Husband help.

Or, while you are tending to your 4 year old to put her to bed, you put the baby in a Play-Pen for the time being.
But typically, a baby is already in bed, sleeping.



answers from Albany on

Aare you sure that your 4 year old really needs 12-13 hours or she is a total cranky mess, or is the crankiness just part of being 4? My kids weaned themselves from naps before age 3 no-matter what I tried... although at age 3 they still take/took occasional afternoon naps in the car, or at daycare. At this time they would got to sleep around 7:30 with no nap, 8:00 with a nap. My kids would generally get a total of 11 to 12 hours in 24. If they had a couple of nights of just getting 11 hours of sleep per night, there would then be a day when they would nap. At the age of 4 kids are going to be totally off naps or weaning themselves from them. It is impossible to make them nap... On the other hand, with summer coming, 6:30 is a really early bedtime! I would say, gradually move her bedtime back a few minutes each night until 7:00 or eventually 7:30 and see if she gradually sleeps a little later in the morning. Then, just let her nap every couple of days or so when she needs it, but don't force it. I think your pediatrician should be realistic... most 4 year olds don't nap everyday even with a later bedtime.


answers from New York on

I have a 4 1/2 year old (she'll be 5 end of July) and a 3 1/2 year old. Both still need naps. They share a room and nap on the same schedule. The 4 yo sometimes wakes up before the 3 yo, with strict orders to wake up quietly and not wake her sister. Which she follows. She sometimes naps only 1 hour. 3 yo always naps 2 or 2 1/2. Usually from 2 - 4 or 3 - 5. They go to sleep by 8:15 or 8:30 latest every night and wake up between 7 and 7:30. They definitely need this much sleep, as you said, my 4 yo is a cranky little horror without her rest. Once in a while, if she slept late for some odd reason, and took a long nap the day before, she'll skip a nap the next day.

In my opinion, do what's easiest for your schedule and for your child. 6:30 is a very early bedtime. Maybe if she went to bed at 7:30 she'd sleep later and still take a bit of a nap?

All my friends with 4 year olds, their kids don't nap but I don't care because my daughter still needs and wants her nap, and she's healthy and happy :-)



answers from New York on

Some 4 year olds still do nap. If your child is tired, she will be cranky. Eventually she'll grow out of it. My oldest was also the type of kid that would wake up same time every day no matter when she went to bed, and if she napped late in the day, she wouldn't go down at her normal bedtime.. I don't have specific input for the timing in your situation. 6:30 was typically dinnertime for us, still part of the day and not a bedtime. When my kids were 4 years old, they went to bed at 8pm.

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