Toddler Sleep Problem: My 2 Year Old Toddler Won’t Nap

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  • May 15, 2012


Would you like to have me answer your toddler sleep problem in my next video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!


If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s toddler sleep problem video:

Hi! Kim West, The Sleep Lady. And today, I’m going to answer Lydia’s question:

“I have an almost 2-year-old toddler (who will be two in a couple of weeks) and she will not nap. This just started. In the past, she would nap for 2 hours. We do the same routine we always do: books, rock, nap at the same time around 1 o’clock but all of a sudden, she will not go to sleep even though I know she is tired. She plays for 2 hours in her crib. She normally goes to bed at 7:30 and will wake up at 7:00 a.m. Should we just forego the nap? I’m not sure if this makes a difference but she moved to one nap a day well before she turned a year old. Please help.”


Nap Resistance is Normal


Lydia, this is such a common question. I think that 2 year olds tend to think they don’t need a nap when we know better because as you said she is tired. She is showing you that she is tired. Most 2 year olds need 2 hours of nap time and 11 hours at night which does sounds like she is getting at night (good for you!).

I would not give up! We can’t make our children go to sleep. The only thing we can do is provide a nice environment and the right timing and hope that they will go to sleep. Continue to have a soothing pre-nap routine, put her in the crib and say night-night. Make sure the room is dark enough and she doesn’t have too many things to entertain herself in her crib, although, believe me, I’ve seen kids entertain themselves for 2 hours with almost nothing in their crib, just themselves. You can check on her in increments if you wish. You could also use a wake-up light, either an appliance timer or there are so many products now in the internet that you can set to go off when sleep time is over. Tell her “Lie quietly in your crib until our special wake-up light comes on”. When nap time is over, go in the room and do dramatic wake up.


Avoid Using a Sleep Crutch


rock to sleepAnother important point I noticed in your email is that you rock her before naps. I just want to make sure that in the past you weren’t maybe rocking her too much and now that sleep crutch is wearing off and she needs you to rock her more because she doesn’t know how to get to sleep by herself unless you rock her into a drowsier state. This is not uncommon. I often find that sleep crutches lose their “magic” over time. If that’s the case, don’t worry! Now you have to start putting her down without rocking her into a drowsy state. This is the most essential piece of your email and more than likely why you are seeing the change in her napping behavior.

So, again, keep up the good work, stay consistent and eventually, she will return to sleeping during her naptime even if it’s every other day. Even if kids outgrow the need to nap earlier than the average, I’m still a big proponent of quiet time. Remember, even if she were to be in preschool all day long, they still make kids lie down on a cot and have quiet time so I think that’s a great idea to have at home, too.

Lydia, I hope that was helpful.

Sweet dreams,
The Sleep Lady

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have successfully gotten your 2 year to return to napping, please encourage Lydia to not give up! Please feel free to click the “reply” link under this article and leave them a comment. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

photo credit: beltz6 via photopin cc

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  • ktaylorrussell says:

    Dear Sleep Lady,
    I just watched your video about a two-year old having trouble with naps. My question is similar, but for an almost 3.5-year old. He’s been not napping for several months at home. But when he started preschool in January, when he turned 3, she was able to train him to sleep and he does for about 45 minutes on those days.
    Home is another story. I’ve been consistent about continuing to have quiet time and we use a timer clock with a light so he knows when quiet time is over. He used to play quietly or listen to audio books quietly, but lately he’s really been resisting quiet time and playing more roughly in his room and opening his door after 20 minutes or so and wanting to come downstairs every five minutes. This has gone on for a few months now. I’m really starting to lose my patience with this process!
    I’m concerned about his lack of actual rest time for the 5 other days of the week he’s at home with me and playing in his room. Is this kind of quiet time enough? He sleeps really well at night – usually 11 hours from 7:30/8 pm to 7ish am. I’ve been wondering how I could train him as his teacher did to actually lie quietly. I’m currently telling him he can get up and play after he’s been quiet and still. So I’ll sit and endure the resistance and keep telling him he can play when he’s rested. And even if it’s only for a few minutes, I just praise him for that amount of rest and then let him have quiet time and I go downstairs. My hope, as his teacher told me should happen, is that he will gradually rest for longer periods. 
    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’m not ready to lose my quiet time and feel it’s important for him as well. At the same time, it causes me SO much stress to stay patient and firm with him to enforce the quiet time.
    Thanks so much,

  • CarmenShaw says:

    I’m curious what your opinion is about a 2 year old who is suddenly sleeping 10 hours at night instead of her usual 12. It doesn’t sound like  a lot but boy can we tell a difference! She does not need to be rocked etc. but we HAVE noticed some delaying tactics. Is she just being a stubborn 2 year old?

  • tdawg1004 says:

    I have 2 1/2 year old twin boys who share a room. They absolutely will not go to bed and stay in there. They pop up at least (a million) times or so it seems and keep saying they have to potty or they want us to rub them they need a bear or whatever excuse they can find. they think it’s a big party and even once they go to sleep at 10:30 or later (sometimes earlier but not by much) one or both of them end up getting up out of bed every night to sleep with us. Sometimes we have let them now just because we are tired of the fight. I have come to dread 7:30 because I know what we are in for. We do baths, story, prayers. We have tried night night videos. Per dr’s ok we have tried melatonin (didn’t work) chamomile tea (didn’t work) the only way they will stay in their beds is if we sit in there with them (forever) Any suggestions. Also we have nigh lights and starry animals etc. We have read books about staying in your own big boy beds. Anything I haven’t tried?