How often should a 3-year-old child sleep a day?

Caroline - posted on 04/14/2013 ( 9 moms have responded )

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I think my daughter might have a sleeping problem. She hates going to sleep, and even if I can get her into bed. she only sleeps for five hours max. I have taken her to our doctor many times, but he's not being very helpful. What should I do?

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Jodi - posted on 04/14/2013

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It depends on the child. My son was still sleeping for about 3-4 hours for his daytime nap, and then about 9-10 hours at night at that age. My daughter gave up her daytime sleeps before she was 2, so she was just sleeping 11 hours at night.

Your child should be sleeping around 10-12 hours a day at minimum. If she is napping for 5 hours during the day, then of course she isn't going to sleep well at night, that is way too much. She should really only be having a maximum of one nap during the day, and you need to try to limit that to MUCH less than 5 hours if you want her sleeping better at night.

Rebecca - posted on 04/16/2013

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Jenny, eating raises the metabolic rate and enerigizes some children. If you research children's sleep, you will find the avoidance of food near bedtime is usually mentioned, with some doctors recommended three or more hours before. As a nutritionist and a mom, I don't reccomend that long since most young children eat more frequently than that. I also deferentiate between bedtime and when you want your child to be asleep. Some children need a little "downtime" before they go to sleep.

Michelle - posted on 04/15/2013

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My 3yo doesn't have a nap anymore (gave that up around 2) and sleeps around 11 hours each night.

You haven't said if she has a daytime nap or not. If she is and then not sleeping at night then she doesn't need the daytime nap.

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Lee Etta - posted on 04/18/2013

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Both of my children had and/or have sleep issues. My pediatrician was not much help either so I had to do my own detective work. My children both snored and I found out that is a sign of sleep apnea. Then I stayed the night in the hotel and my son sounded so awful it woke me up and I insisted the doctor do something. After x-rays and blood tests he sent us to an Ear, Nose, Throat surgeon. He recommended his tonsils and adenoids be removed. It was a godsend. No more waking up being just as grumpy as when he went to bed. He was a much more pleasant child all around. My daughter had even more problems with her sleep apnea and she had surgery the very same week the surgeon saw her. Neither had a sleep study and my daughter had no tests, her tonsils were visibly huge and the surgeon actually believed me when I said she was gagging/choking even when crying hard. I had even recorded my daughter sleeping and my pediatrican told me I was imagining things. He said she was sucking her fingers only! So, see if your child is snoring and if she is insist on a consultation with an ENT. My son was 3 at the time of his surgery and my daughter was 2.

Wendy - posted on 04/17/2013

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Seems like some kiddos wake when their sleep cycles change from deep to lighter sleep, and they wake, often wanting to get up. They may need quick reassurance, then it's right back to bed. She may not be able to self-soothe back to sleep once waking, and that is teachable. I would insist if it's dark and sleep time, they must be in bed and sleep. You can also buy the clocks for kiddos that change color when it's time to stay in bed, or an ok time to get up. Took lots of practice for me to let them self-soothe and teach them to stay in bed. Hang in there. Also some good toddler books on developing good sleep habbits. They Baby Whisperer and The Best Baby on the Block were favorites.

Jenny - posted on 04/16/2013

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Not sure what time you're putting her to bed at. Maybe that's where you might be able to squeeze some more hours of sleep in for her by giving her an earlier bed time. Its perfectly fine at her age for her to go to sleep at 7.30pm.

Look at her sleeping situation. Maybe something needs to change. If she's not sleeping enough maybe she needs to sleep on a mattress in your room to help her, or if she's currently co-sleeping, maybe getting her into her own bed would help.

I'm not sure about the advice to not eat 2 hours before bedtime. Might be good advice for adults, but not sure if this is right for kids. She might not be getting enough sleep because she's not eating enough.

She should be able to sleep 8hrs easily, although closer to 12 is recommended.

Rebecca - posted on 04/16/2013

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Caroline, your child should be sleeping twice as long as she is. Unfortunately, kids don't come with off buttons. There are some healthy sleeping habits that might help. If you are already practicing these, it might be time for a sleep study. Make sure you have her running around being active each day. Set up a bedtime routine (i.e. put on jammies, brush teeth, read a book, lights out). Turn off tvs, computers and handheld games 3 hours before you want her to sleep. Don't let your daughter eat within 2 hours of when you want her to sleep. Place a radio, cd player or white noise machine in your child's room. Only allow one or two toys in your child's room at night. If you have questions about these or would like more information or just to talk, pm me!

Jodi - posted on 04/15/2013

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So how long IS she sleeping during the day? Maybe she is ready to give up her daytime naps altogether? My signal for when my kids were ready to give up daytime naps was when they weren't sleeping as well at night, or when they would fight their bedtimes.

Caroline - posted on 04/15/2013

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No she never naps for that long i mean her sleeping at night time, thank you for your help, i am so glad i joined this web site.

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