What Time Is Nap Time?

Updated on October 14, 2011
A.H. asks from Ontario, CA
22 answers

My son just turned three and still takes one nap during the day. I'm home on maternity leave, so he gets up later than normal right now, usually around 8. He takes his nap around 4 and will sleep anywhere from 1-3 hours. We make sure he's up by 7 for dinner, bath and bedtime at 8:30. When I am working, he wakes up at 6:30 am and will go back to that schedule in January when I return to work. It's 11:00 pm and he's still up there playing!

So my question is what time does your toddler take a nap and what is their bedtime? Should we move his nap time to earlier in the day? It's difficult to get him down sooner... Should we only let him nap an hour or so? He needs his nap still, otherwise he's a cranky beast come dinner time.

What do you moms do? Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much mamas! We have moved his nap time to around 1:30/2:00 and it's helping immensly. It was nice to have him and the 1 yr old napping at the same time in the afternoon (she still naps twice a day, and goes to bed around 8:15) but he is going to bed so much easier now and falling asleep at a reasonable hour.

(And we can't move up dinner time, our work schedules don't allow it, since we don't get home until 6:45/7:00 every evening.)

Thanks for all the responses!

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answers from Reno on

Hi. My son is 3 yrs., 5 mos. old. He wakes up generally about 8:30, takes a nap at about 12:30 until 3 or 3:30. I let him have lots of physical activity between 3:30 and 6 (which is dinner time). Wind down time until about 8:00, then bath and bedtime is 9:00 when his sisters go to sleep. This routine has worked his entire "toddler-hood" so far. The physical activity is key if you want him to go to sleep earlier. Too much sleep or sleeping later into the day gives toddlers too much energy and not enough time to dispense of it. :)

Best of luck.




answers from Los Angeles on

all my kids stopped napping before age 3. Otherwise they were up too late. I'd put him to bed at 7.

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answers from Chicago on

That nap is way late- even with his current schedule. We follow the routine our pre-k does. Our kids who are 4 and about to turn 3 go down between 1230 and 1 and sleep 1-2.5 hrs. They wake between 645 and 710 and go to bed at 8. We do lunch at 1130. Also 3 hrs is likely too long a nap at that age and especially so close to bedtime. Try moving it earlier and shorter gradually. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Yes, 4pm is too late to start and 3 hours is too long. Sleeping past 4pm starts to interfere with the body's night sleeping clock. He should be starting a nap between 1-2pm and not sleeping more than 2 hours. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My guy is 2.5 and goes down between 12:30 to 1:30, and sleeps 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Definitely move your son's nap up, and let him sleep no more than 2 hours, work and see how you can best tweak it, so he's in bed around 8:30 pm.

He should stay on the same schedule as when you're working, or you'll have to deal with retraining him on top of dealing with the baby's schedule in January, and at 3 going to bed after 11pm and up at 8am he may not be getting enough nighttime sleep. Cut out any TV or computer after dinner, no roughhousing or loud voices, make the time until bedtime quiet and relaxing with a bath, rubdown with nighttime lotion, a story or two, cuddling throughout, then lights out and bed.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My youngest just turned 4 and her quiet time is from 1-2:30 or 3. Some days she will fall asleep and others she will not. She is in bed no later than 8:30 every night and wakes up between 6:30 and 7am. I would definately change his nap time to earlier in the day. Sleeping until 7pm and then expecting him to be ready for bed at 8:30 is very unrealistic.


answers from Washington DC on

All of my kids were raised on 1-4 naps...because they took long naps always. Still do. Now they take quiet time if they don't want to sleep, but my 6 and 4 year old still sleep, sometimes my 8 year old too! At daycare, when my son stays all day, they nap from noon-2. And he always has to be woken up.



answers from Los Angeles on

My 3 year old goes to preschool 4 days a week, so on those days he gets up about 7:30 or 7:45 a.m. They are napping by noon and he'll sleep for about 2 hours. On his 3 days home, he gets up about the same time, maybe as late as 8:30 a.m. on the weekends, but we still get him to nap no later than 1:30 p.m. He goes to bed about 8:30 or 9 p.m. A 4 p.m. nap (and it does happen sometimes if we're out) spells doom for us. He'll be up all night.



answers from Little Rock on

I always put mine down for a nap about 1:30 or before that even if they are cranky. My 3 year old has not taken a nap in about 6 months though because she has been sleeping in till 10 am and I don't feel that she needs a nap since I also put her to bed at 8 pm. I know I will have to adjust her schedule to include a nap before she starts pre-k next school year though.


answers from Kalamazoo on

My kids would go down after lunch, around 1-2pm and sleep for 2 hours. They would wake around 7am, lunch at noon, then nap, dinner at around 5p-5:30pm and then bed by 8:30.



answers from Boston on

My daughter is 3 1/2 and still naps also. Her nap time has shifted over the past year or so, but now she goes down for her nap around 1:00, after lunch and usually sleeps until about 3:00. If she's at daycare, she also goes down at 1:00 but they only sleep for about an hour. Also, she wakes up at about 6:30 am which means that by the time 1:00 comes around, she's tired!!
I totally understand the shift in your schedule now that you're home on maternity leave - that happened some with us when I had my son who's now 18 months old. When I needed to get my daughter back into her routine, I shifted her bedtime back by 10-15 minutes gradually until I reached the desired bedtime. I would guess that the same might work for nap time.
Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

My 3 1/2 year old naps between 1 and 1:30 usually. For him 2:00 is late. He sleeps about an hour and a half every day. He has gone through periods lately where I thought he might be dropping his nap but thankfully he has always gone back to it so far. Like you said, he is a cranky monster toward dinner time if he doesn't nap. His bedtime is somewhere around 8; sometimes he falls asleep in 5 min after we leave his room, other times he rolls around and sings for like 30 min.


answers from Kansas City on

holy cow how do you last till 4 with no nap!? lol! my son would be SUCH a grouch! naptime is right after lunch. then a 2ish hour nap is fine, because he has plenty of time to play and burn off that energy before bedtime, which is 8. but he is also up by 6:30 every day. i guess if you were to let him sleep later, maybe adjust the routine an hour or so later, but still, naptime is after lunch time. that's how it's been for us since forever...his first daycare lady helped get him on that schedule, and it so happens his preschool does the exact same thing. it's great.



answers from Los Angeles on

That is a very late nap time. That's totally ok...but I would only let him sleep 1 to 1 1/2 hours if you want to put him down at 8:30. Otherwise I would just put him to bed by 7 and deal with the crankiness for a short time so you get the relaxing time you need at night...and he gets a better nights sleep.



answers from Los Angeles on

Our daughter will be 3 next week. She gets up between 6 and 6:30, naps from 12:30-2:30, bath at 6:30 and our goal is to have her in bed at 8 (but we're often in her room until almost 8:30). She is really fighting taking naps right now, but we tell her that if she doesn't want to nap it's ok, but she has to have "quiet time" in her room and she'll sit in bed and read or play with her toys. She still really needs a nap too (meltdown later in the day if she doesn't have one).

I like having her on this schedule. She gets enough sleep and we get some quiet time in the evening.

Also, I read that at 3 years old, 25% of kids give up their nap, 50% give it up at 4 years old, and 75% at 5 years old. I thought that was interesting.


answers from Los Angeles on

That seems awfully late to me... but if he's going to bed at a decent time and still getting everything done he needs to do, really, who cares? There are still several months before you return to work.

To answer your question, Mad usually goes down between 12:30 and 1:30 and sleeps for 2-4 hours (usually 2.5). We have decided to make sure she's waking up from her nap between 4:00 and 4:30. An added factor for us is that our girls stay with Grandma and Papa in your hometown, but we live up the hill. So making that trek any later would be too much.

For me, "me time" only comes after the girls are in bed and asleep, so maternity leave or no, that part wouldn't work for me. Again, though, if it works for you, I wouldn't sweat it.




answers from Minneapolis on

My 3.5 year old wakes between 6-6:15, naps from 1-3, and to bed around 9. (Well we start around 8:30 but after all the requests and delaying he falls asleep around 9-9:30)


answers from Seattle on

When my kids were that age they were up at 7ish and down for a nap at 1:30 or 2 at the latest. I can't imagine that your son is tired if he is sleeping for 3 hours and just up long enough to eat and go back to bed. I would move his nap time up, gradually, and see if you can get him down earlier so you can have an earlier bedtime than 11pm!



answers from San Diego on

My 3yr old wakes between 7-8am, naps 1230-230 or 1-3 then she goes to bed around 8pm!! Good luck!!



answers from Hartford on

My daughter is 3 & 1/2 and she wakes up with me in the morning at about 5:15am. She goes to daycare and naps from about 1:00-2:30. I will not have them let her nap past 2:30 as this messes with bed time. I need to get her asleep at night by 8pm the latest in order to get the hours of sleep she needs. There are days she will not nap at all. Kids this age require about 10-12 hours of sleep within a 24 hour period. On weekends we mix it up sometimes. On Saturdays I let her nap a little later, but I also allow her to stay up a little later. On Sundays we skip nap all together. This way I know i have a really good chance at getting her to sleep by 7 & 7:30pm the latest.



answers from Los Angeles on

Kids need more time between waking up from their naps and going to bed at night. I would try putting him down around 2:00 and making sure he's up by 4 or 4:30. If he's napping till 7:00, he's not going to be tired again at 8:30.

My son wakes up in the morning anywhere between 6:30 - 7:30 (he's almost 4.5). He naps from about 1:30 - 3:30 and goes to bed at 8:00 (though sometimes he is still up until 9:00 playing/reading in bed).



answers from Cincinnati on

to me 4pm is a little late for a nap. especially if he is his sleeping 3 hours and then going to bed an hour and a half latter. My son gets up at about 8:30 and takes a nap at 1pm (though lately he has been in this I don't need a nap phase) and sleeps till about 3:30 if he refuses to take a nap he goes to bed at 7 instead of 8.

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