Why An Earlier Nap May Be More Effective For Your Toddler

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  • August 12, 2015
Question of the week_ Why An Earlier Nap May Be More Effective For Your Toddler

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Hi. I’m Kim West, The Sleep Lady, and in today’s video blog I’m going to answer Lisa’s question:

“My just-turned-three-year-old wakes between 7:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. He doesn’t usually fall asleep for a nap until close to 2:00 p.m. I wake him around 3:00 p.m. because he goes to bed late. He won’t go to sleep until 9:00 p.m. This makes for a long afternoon and evening. Any suggestions?

“If I were to institute some sort of quiet time and let him have a few toys in his room, I feel like I would have to get him in his room by 1:00 p.m. at the latest so that, if he does fall asleep, that is great. If not, then he can play for an hour. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks.

-Lisa.”

 

Naps Are a Priority

 

Sounds like your 3 year old son sleeps from 9:00 p.m. until about 7:00 or 7:30 a.m. Then he takes a one-hour nap from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. which means he gets approximately 10 hours of sleep at night and 1 hour during the day.

That is not far off the average, but the more important question is:

  • Question of the week_ Why An Earlier Nap May Be More Effective For Your ToddlerDoes that seem like enough sleep for him?
  • Does he seem well rested?

I usually do find that most three-year-olds still need a nap. I would be worried that if you just took it out completely that it would make his nighttime sleep fall apart.

As a first step, I would try an earlier nap.

You can do this by moving his nap time or quiet time earlier as you mentioned. Offer him quiet toys that will not stimulate him and reduce the chances of him falling asleep.

I agree with starting the nap much earlier and cueing his body to help him slow down by pulling the shades down in the room and reading a book with him. You could also use a toddler clock that shows him when his quiet time or rest time is over.

 

Be Mindful of His Behavior

 

I find that if a child is not ready to stop napping that they have a “personality change” for the worse after three days of not napping. If you start to notice that with your son then I would go for a car ride if that puts him to sleep. Or you could put him in the stroller.

Ideally you would like him to take at least a 45-minute nap so he doesn’t face bedtime overtired. Of course on the days when he has quiet time and no nap, he needs an earlier bed time than 9:00 p.m. and more like 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. depending on how tired he is.

 

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have experienced a similar situation, please share! Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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