What do you do when your 3 year old will not take naps anymore?

Jennifer - posted on 03/15/2012 ( 37 moms have responded )

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What do you do when your 3 year old will not take a nap.............force it or not?

Sometimes she will go down (not without a fight though) and other times she just fights and fights and I give up. I try to make her have "quiet time" at this point. I know she still needs them, but how much longer can I fight her on this?

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Marisa - posted on 03/17/2014

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apparently all of you moms who say the 3 year old does not need a nap cope very well with an intolerable child at 5pm. I am not as strong and composed as you are. Maybe that should be the post question. Or how to avoid getting in the car so that the child doesn't fall asleep at 4 or 6pm. Or how to have 20 minutes to yourself so that you don't hurt an exhausted child who not only refuses to sleep through yawning, but also refuses to stay quiet so that the baby in the house, who was sleep trained at 4 months (DUH! my only good sleeper… took 3 kids to learn how stupid no-cry methods are!) ) can have the needed nap.

Suz - posted on 09/21/2012

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Most 3 year olds fear they will miss out on something exciting or miss playtime that others are enjoying if they take a nap. After years of motherhood and child care I find that if I offer to sit with them quietly while they lay down and close their eyes then they usually fall asleep within 10 or 15 minute at which point I then can slip out of the room. I find this works better than just putting them in bed and leaving the room then having to "monitor " them every 5 minutes for 1/2 hour until they stop fighting and allow themselves to sleep.

[deleted account]

I am going through the same thing. What I do is exactly this, I put her in her bed a little bit earlier than normal nap time so that if she does fall to sleep its still on time. sometimes she does and sometimes it doesn't but she will sit quietly reading. So maybe try giving her some books in bed.

Angeline - posted on 03/28/2012

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No need to force sleep. My daughter also stopped napping around her 2nd b-day. I was worried b/c I knew she needed the rest, so I tried holding her to fall asleep. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. After this tough transition, she started doing much better day and night - not acting cranky anymore. (I did encourage "quiet" times during the day: reading, coloring, etc.) Without a nap, she would sleep from 8pm to 8am. Now, a month before her 3rd b-day, she normally falls asleep by 9pm and wakes up at around 8am.

Anika - posted on 03/27/2012

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Why does she need one at 3? My son cut his out shortly after he turned 2. Yes I tried to keep him napping, but he didn't want to. He was going to bed at 10pm when he did nap, no nap = normal bedtime. Quiet time is a good idea but at 3 I really don't see the nap as being needed (not by the child anyway). If she's fighting it, she's not tired.

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Om - posted on 04/15/2014

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I agree with Marisa. I am currently having issues with my 4 year old who just dropped his nap. While I am fine with him dropping his nap, he absolutely refuses to stay in his room for a one hour quiet time(which I believe is a reasonable quiet time). He tells me he is sick, he screams, cries or constantly begs for attention. He cannot play independently and if I let him have quiet time with me, all he does is constantly interupt me. In fact just today he got himself so upset he threw up and he also woke up his 1 year old brother from his afternoon nap. I believe he does this on purpose so I do not make him stay in his room for quiet time and I give in to his demands?? I have a friend who has a 4 year and nearly 2 year old and neither one of them naps but she enforces a 6:30pm bedtime, which I think is very early, but I guess that's what she has to do to have any sanity in her life. I am at a loss what to do with my 4 year old as this has been going on for a week now with his refusal of quiet time. I'm a stay at home mom naptime/quiet time is my only respite from my children, I cannot afford help in terms of a nanny or a babysitter. Yes he is very whiny, cranky and disrespectful during dinner time. I have always been told as a parent you need to be consistent. So after my son woke up his brother from his nap, I told him he must stay in his room for a one hour quiet time until he learns rules. And as Marisa stated I also do not cope well with a preschooler who refuses to follow household rules! After fighting for more than an hour he is finally quiet!

Liberty - posted on 05/04/2012

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My 3 yr old has quiet time to give me that rest and time to pick my house up I tell him he has to stay in his room but he doesn't have to sleep. Usually for an hour at first he fought it but now he either plays quietly or sleeps cause he knows he doesn't have to sleep!

Anna - posted on 04/23/2012

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It sounds to me like your daughter doesn't actually need the naps as much as you might think/like her to. Definitely stay with the quiet time idea, I think that's really brilliant, but you'll probably just have to make some adjustments to your own schedule.

Sara - posted on 04/20/2012

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Let them go my 2 1/2 year old stoped taking naps from 15 months old she will have one if she is at daycare but only cause the other kids do it then when I have her she won't ... The doctor told me you can't forse them to do it and if she is tired she will sleep it just makes it a very long day if they are early risers but I found she will go to bed earlier most days... I try to turn everything off have lunch and lay on her bed with her and read for quiet time

Audra - posted on 04/13/2012

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I am in the same position, but I think I may be missing my toddler's cues on when he's tired. If they won't nap, I feel they still need to relax somehow...with 'quiet time,' etc. How can they NOT need the rest?? Their little bodies and minds just go and go, all day long. I had quite a bit of success with the hour-and-a-half 'rule.' Once they wake up, they cycle back to 'sleep' on hour-and-a-half increments. So if your 3-year-old wakes up at 7 am, try putting her down for a nap at 8:30 am, 10 am, or 11:30 am, etc. Time from when she wakes up. If she happens to finally take a nap and wakes up at 12:00 pm, try putting her to bed at 7:30 pm. Good luck!

Diana - posted on 04/12/2012

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We don't force him to nap and also use quite time. But during the days he skipped his nap, he ends up going to sleep right around dinner time, then wake up around 8pm and staying up way too late, passing midnight on some days. I guess this is just a phase until he is able to stay awake until his bed time, after dinner.

Gemma - posted on 03/31/2012

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if she wants a nap then she'll go to sleep if she wants to otherwise i wouldnt force it upon her if you force it upon her she'll associate going to sleep as a bad thing

[deleted account]

I totally get the 10pm thing to, but only if the nap is to late. We really just use quiet reading time. she has been reading since she was 10months old. Her reading time is my down time, yeah right like we actually get down time, but you know what I mean.

Ashley - posted on 03/26/2012

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I only wish my kids would take naps...my oldest stopped napping at about 20 months and my youngest stopped at 21 months. They are now 4 1/2 and 3. :)

CJ - posted on 03/26/2012

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Me and my fiance have gone back and forth with naps and no naps for our daughter for months. She turned 3 in February and we've been having "nap issues" for awhile now. a couple weeks ago, we found something that seems to work for us. We absolutely refuse to put down our daughter with a movie at bed time, I do not believe it is a good habit to start. However, we decided to try a "movie quiet time" in place of nap. We have a portable dvd player, so we set that up next to our daughter's bed (just put it on a pull-up box) and ket her pick out a movie. The rule is, she must stay laying down in her bed and watch the movie until mommy or daddy come get her (we leave her in her room for an hour). She get's one "warning" for getting out of bed or calling for us, then the movie gets taken away and she has to take a real nap. So far just the warning has been enough, and we haven't had to take away the movie. She usually makes it 40-50 minutes before she tries getting out of bed or calling for us to be let out (she has a door handle gaurd on her handle as we've had issues with her getting out of bed in the middle of the night without calling out and waking us over the monitor. as our room is downstairs I'd rather not risk her trying to get to our room on her own, our stairs are not carpeted) We also make sure she uses the potty before she's put in her room, so that no potty breaks are needed during her "quiet time". We've found this time to work quite well to keep her from getting cranky later in the day and to give mommy and daddy a much needed break. She missed a "quiet time" 2 days ago because her cousins were over, and she was so cranky she ended up being put down for bed early, so we will definantly be sticking with it. And she's much more willing to lay down and watch a movie for an hour than a nap (plus she hasn't actually slept during nap time for awhile now, it just became a frustrating battle between parents and child). And, though it hasn't happened yet, if she happens to actually fall asleep during quiet time, we're all for letting her sleep until the hour's over.:)

Dezirae - posted on 03/25/2012

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My son is three and he does take naps however its not on a scheduled time. What i do especially now that it is nice out i take him to the park for an hour or two and left him run around and tire himself out then when we leave the park he falls asleep in the car and stays sleeping for an hour to two hrs i wouldnt force the issue but there is alot of ways to get her to want to take a nap on her own such as letting her play for a long time and she will hopefuly wear herself out.

Lynda - posted on 03/25/2012

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I would not fight it. Just put her in her room for an hour or so (whatever her normal nap might be) and let her look at books, play quietly. My son gave up naps at 3 like many here have said their kids did. On the rare occaision he did nap, it usually took him longer to go to sleep at night. Even though he was tired at bedtime and sometimes grumpy, he went right to sleep and still does ( I have been blessed with a good sleeper). I have found that just giving him a break from me and me from him helps us both. He's in a better mood after the quiet time than he is if I just let him go, go go in the afternoon. My son is 5 and still gets some quiet time once or twice a week when he is especially grumpy.

Janet - posted on 03/25/2012

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Why are you trying to fight a 3 yr old on naps?? Enforce quiet time if you like as others mentioned. Both mine stopped napping at 2. Both went to bed earlier and easier. Pretty normal development at 3 for some kids to stop taking naps. A preschool child who needs to be forced to nap doesn't need one!

Sandra - posted on 03/23/2012

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Make sure the child has enough play time to wear them out before nap time. It helps. Mine quit taking naps by 3, but we had quiet time, or where they could lay and read a book, sometimes they fell asleep reading. If mine napped then they wanted to be up all night.

Orange - posted on 03/21/2012

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Our three year old dropped his nap and BOY did he still need it. So I introduced the "nap fairy" after he had just seen something about the tooth fairy on TV. The "nap fairy" brought a special "nap outfit" (something from his closet he hardly wore) and promised to leave a nap treat if he took a nap. It worked like a charm. The nap fairy left a few crackers, sometimes crayons, or stickers silly things. Yes, lasted about 2 months and somedays he didn't nap but rested but it worked long enough to bridge the gap until he was ready to no longer need one. good luck!!! Also, for my older son, we just kept pushing nap back 15 minutes until there was no struggle.

Rosa - posted on 03/21/2012

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My 3 year old never ever takes a nap. n m not realy bothered.

7:30 everynite she is off 2bed. I cant remember de last time she

took a nap during de day. She must have been months old. After

1 year she never took a nap. Unless if i fall asleep she will fall asleep

later as a result of boredom. but luckily she goes 2 pre - school n they

make them sleep. other than dat.. weekends she is up for +12 hours..

Leanna - posted on 03/20/2012

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Children think quiet time is boring but it's necessary for their development. It sometimes leads to children falling asleep because of boredom since they are not being stimulated and they seek stimulation.

Jennifer - posted on 03/20/2012

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My daughter is 3 years old and she takes a nap every day at daycare with no problems. We have a little bit more of an issue with it on the weekends but I never force it. What I usually do with her is make her sit down and have some quiet time and she usually will fall asleep in that time frame. Good luck!

Rebekah - posted on 03/19/2012

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I enforce "quiet time", it is on my son's bed with books and blankie and I turn on soft music. I set a timer and tell him it's "quiet time", he can't get off the bed unless it's to go potty and then he has to come right back until the timer goes off. Most of the time he falls asleep, but sometimes he doesn't - just means earlier bed time.

Anna - posted on 03/19/2012

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My almost 2 yr old, who hasn't had issues with naps for at least a yr, all of a sudden, has been refusing to nap for the past two days. However, I've been able to get him down to bed 2 hrs earlier so he ended up getting 12 hrs of sleep at night. Not sure what'll happen today but I'm not sure you can force a child to nap, just encourage it. I specifically remember myself being in daycare and being forced to close my eyes during nap time. I never napped and I hated it.

Raylene - posted on 03/18/2012

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Don't fight her, but do try and keep up with the quiet time for at least an hour. She will have those days when she is really tired and will want to take a nap and those days when she's not that tired but might be quite happy for just a bit of quiet time. On the days that she doesn't nap its always a lovely early night to bed!!

Sarah - posted on 03/17/2012

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At 3, most kids give up naps. My daughter stopped napping around 2. She will nap occasionally if she gets up too early or if she falls asleep herself. I stopped forcing her. If she is in a good mood until bedtime, I'd let the nap go. Quiet time is always good for moms =] Encourage her that she needs to have "quiet time" in her room & that she needs to stay in her room. You never know - she may just fall asleep while having quiet time.

Laureen - posted on 03/17/2012

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I don't think you should force a nap on them at that age! If they fall asleep them let them sleep but I wouldn't force my son to go for a nap!! My son hasn't napped since he was like 2

Erica - posted on 03/16/2012

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my son is 3.5, he has not taken naps in almost a year. every once in a while he will nap. that is only if he is so tired that he cant keep his eyes open. i just let him do whatever cause i dont fight it.

September - posted on 03/16/2012

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Our 3 year old rarely takes naps anymore, we never force it. If he's had a busy day he'll gladly nap without a fight otherwise it's just early to bed. If I were you I'd give up on making her nap and just set an earlier bed time and or some quite time.

Deanna - posted on 03/16/2012

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She might be done with naps now. My daughter was 2 when she stopped having her daily nap (and boy do I miss those days, lol). Quiet time is a great idea!!!

Jenni - posted on 03/16/2012

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Stop giving her naps. My son stopped taking naps recently (he's also 3). They adjust. So even though at first she may seem like she still needs them, her body will eventually get use to not having one. It also makes bedtime a breeze. ;)



My son still gets a little grumpy shortly after his old nap time for about an hour but then gets a second wind.

Vicki - posted on 03/16/2012

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I wouldn't force it, what's the point? My boy has dropped his nap a few months ago, he's 2.5. Generally once a day we'll lie down together on the bed for a little while (he's still breastfeeding, so he'll have a feed and rest). This is enough to recharge and he's up and running again! Since he dropped his nap he's been going to sleep at night much earlier and faster. It's a big improvement for me as I have my evenings back again.

Nicky - posted on 03/15/2012

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My son is 3 and also refuses to nap, I dont make him nap but he does have quiet time. When we do quiet time i let him pick a movie of his choice and he either lays in his bed and watches it (sometimes falling asleep) or he will just sit in his room and play quietly as he watches his movie. I believe by the age of 3 most kids grow out of naps, but there is nothing wrong with quiet time (which sometimes leads to a nap) :)

Katherine - posted on 03/15/2012

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My daughter quit napping at 2, unfortunately it sounds like your daughter is giving up naps. I agree with Janice. She can have some quite time, but as far as naps, she's done, sorry :/

Janice - posted on 03/15/2012

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I would keep enforcing some quiet time but at 3 many children stop napping. When I worked in daycare 25-50% of the 3 year olds did not nap on a daily basis. We did enforce quiet time so others who wanted/ needed to sleep could. My daughter is a really great napper right now (28 mo.) and I am dreading when she doesnt nap anymore and I dont get my bit of down time :)

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