Joshua at 3 years old

Joshua, 3 years old
Joshua has had a similar sleeping routine for some time now. Once again, these times are approximates. He is not a
machine ;)

Here he is at 3 years, 2 months of age.
7:30 Wake
12:30-3 Nap (I wake him most days)
7:30 Bed for the night

Just before he turned 3 he was like this:
7:30/8:00 Wake
12:30-3:30 Nap
8:00 Bed for the night

Several months before this (No, I do not have a super memory--in fact, I'd have to say it is pretty pitiful--I just looked this up on my son's blog which I wrote about here):
8:00 Wake
12:00-3:00 Nap
7:30 Bed for the night

I want to point out that my son Joshua, who looks nothing like me (seriously, nothing. like. me.), does happen to sleep a lot like me! He would like to sleep all day if I let him, and go to sleep at...well I don't know how late but I'm sure VERY late. He also likes to wake up on the wrong side of the bed which is something my husband doesn't appreciate about the both of us!

Here are the main changes that happened with his routine while on one nap a day:

He used to sleep for 3-4 hours for his afternoon nap if I didn't wake him up. This started to make bedtime later. So why not just make bedtime later? Well, first off, night sleep is much better for you than day sleep and his super long nap was robbing him of night sleep. Second, pushing his bedtime a bit later didn't work like you'd think it would work. I know, I tried. I was trying to hold onto that long nap for a bit longer since I was very sick and a long nap would give me more of a break during the day. So then I tried to move it a bit later and it still didn't work. Even though he had an appropriate waketime before bedtime, it didn't work because his body was getting past his ideal sleep time. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child talks about this if you are interested in learning more. After all of this I ended up shortening his afternoon nap and putting him to bed earlier. Although his waketime after the nap stayed the same he went to sleep at night perfectly.

Joshua's afternoon nap also became a bit later in the morning when he started to have difficulty falling asleep for it.

To make it simple, pretty much what has happened so far is his nap has been moved later as he has had a hard time falling asleep for it, bedtime has been moved later as his nap has been made later or he has had a hard time falling asleep, and his nap has been shortened as bedtime has gotten too late or he has had a hard time falling asleep at bedtime. A pattern like this happens with many of the nap transitions. We are once again probably going to cut back on his afternoon nap by 15-30 minutes since he is starting to have a hard time falling asleep at night sometimes. It is possible the increased outside time that accompanies summer will help with this though. We will see.

I want to point out that Joshua has what most experts consider a late wake time in the morning. Most babies (like 90-95%) don't sleep in late (much past 7 am) unless they are overtired. This percentage goes down as they get a bit older. My son woke around 7 the first several months of his life. Then he started to want to move his entire routine a bit later. He wasn't at all overtired so I went along with this. In fact, it was my dream come true. I am NOT a morning person.


  1. My 26 mth old has a very hard time falling asleep at night since January. This is her schedule:

    wake 6:30-7:00
    nap 12:00-2:30(sometimes 3:00, I won't let her sleep past 3)
    bedtime 7:30 (falls asleep about 9:00)

    I thought it was just a 'faze', but it never used to take her 1.5 hours to fall asleep. This began after she was sleeping in our room in the pnp at Christmas because we had house guests.

  2. Angel,
    For some kids it can be a phase. I often hear about this around age 2.

    Be sure she is getting plenty of physical exercise. Sometimes kids start to not sleep as well in the winter when they are not outside running around as much.

    You might need to either cut back on the nap or move bedtime to a later hour. See what works best. I probably wouldn't move bedtime much later than that. When kids are out of bed moving around they get more tired than when they sit in bed. So a child that needs a 7 pm bedtime but goes to bed at 6:30 might sit in bed until 8 before falling asleep. If they are put in bed at 7 they might go to sleep at 7:15. I hope that made sense!

  3. Yes, that does make sense. I get the outside exercise thing too. Sometimes we do get out and it still happens. She does stay in bed, just talking to herself till 9. I have also tried putting her to bed at 8, thinking she would be asleep by 8:15-30, but no go.
    I've learned to just 'live with it', but wonder if she needs that extra 1.5 hrs sleep??
    Maybe it is just an outside fresh air thing, because it's really hit and miss in the afternoon (it gets really rainy here, esp. in the winter) but I guess that's what rain gear is for!

  4. Angel,
    It isn't too uncommon for a 2 year old to only need 1.5-2 hours worth of nap time. That might fix your problem. But make sure to wean slowly, if that is what you do, so you can find that sweet spot :)

  5. Question as my DD is 4 yrs 2 months. Her routine is:
    6:45ish wake usually
    7 AM up
    12:30-2:15 nap (I had started shortening it around when she turned 4. Usually about 1.5 hr sleep or close as about 15 min to fall asleep)
    Bed at 6:30 PM (this is because no matter what, since she was 2/2.5ish she has taken about 1 hr to fall asleep at night)

    Before this, it was more like:
    12:30-2:25ish nap (so about 1.75 hr sleep)
    Bed at 6:40/6:45 PM

    My question is, she's having trouble settling at night. I often have to wake her from naps. She has only skipped 2 naps in her life, amazing just that! She usually falls asleep in about 15 min, say 12:45. But the issue is the nights. Like I said, no matter what I tried to "fix" it, she has always taken longer to fall asleep at night. I tried later bedtimes and it would still take her the SAME amount of time to settle. I tried more exercise and sometimes I think it was too much as it would take even longer and she'd be overtired. Even on her 2 no-nap days I thought she'd pass out quickly but she didn't (I did move up bedtime an hour earlier to compensate)

    I tried recently to shorten nap 12:30-2 PM (so about 1.25 hr nap). Then moved up bed to 6:15 PM as I never had that last Atime exceed 4.25 hrs (because taking into account settling)....she seems sensitive and 15 min too late can take longer to settle.

    So my question is, do you think this is normal? I can't read her and figure if she is overtired or undertired. With the shorter nap (1.25ish hr sleep) she wasn't making her nights longer so it was less sleep overall.
    In general we were doing pretty good until the time change and that's when it started to take longer to settle at night. But that's been 5 weeks now.
    Do you have any thoughts? I totally agree about having an "ideal" time to be asleep by. She had sometimes fallen asleep quicker (say by 7:15 PM) and then she'll sleep 11.5 hr nights. So the earlier she is asleep, the longer it seems but she is taking longer than 1 hr now to fall asleep. So I can't figure it out and if I should shorten nap or maybe rearrange it so it ends later?
    Anyways thanks for any ideas.

  6. Michael and Yvonne,
    Make sure a good night time routine is in place.

    Try some independent play before bed. Playtime by herself with no tv or electrical stuff. And no mom and dad present. Music is nice. It can really help some kids calm down before sleep times.

    Try relaxing music before bed and reading familiar books.

    Try talking about things she is concerned about. This might help, or it might make her worry about stuff more.

    I think wake time might be the issue. I would be really surprised if she couldn't do 2pm-7pm, or at least 6:30 at her age. If she acts overtired, I think you might even want to just push her slowly to stay awake longer. I don't often suggest this, but sometimes it needs to be done to help kids get in a better rhythm.

    I am always hesistnat to put kids to sleep earlier because it takes X amoutn of time to fall asleep. It is almost like you are teaching them to take a long time to fall asleep because they aren't even able to fall asleep quickly because they aren't tired enough yet. Plus, you are breaking into their wake time and placing resting time in it's place. So if they are truely ready for sleep at 7pm and you put them to bed at 6pm, then they are going to actually fall asleep later than 7pm since their active time has been replaced by resting time and they aren't as tired as they would be if it was the other way around.

    Hope that helped

  7. Thank you Rachel. We had a good bedtime routine with books,etc but I will work on it.
    I agree as I've been thinking and experimenting and I will try a later bedtime, at least 6:30 PM and see what happens and see if I need to move more. Before, every time I shortened nap I moved up bedtime 10-15 min to avoid OT BUT she is older now too and maybe this isn't needed....she was just always sensitive and 10-15 min could make a difference somehow, I'm not sure how. Before 6:30/6:40 was ideal bedtime (of course that was good nap days and not short naps, so that confused me....before, even just this winter, if she'd shortnap on her own I moved up bedtime and she'd fall asleep early and like 2ish months ago so since this worked I just basically decided to do the routine like fact she would have longer "rest time" as I wouldn't get her up early from nap whereas now she has more up time)
    I understand your hestitation about earlier due to X time to sleep and I really don't know why she's done this....I had experimented with later, earlier, more exercise, less exercise, more mental stimulation,etc....but it seems like whenever I put her down (no matter the time) it was 1 hr regardless....when sick maybe quick like 30 min, if I was lucky some nights 45 min but that was erratic. Anyways I think to myself that I don't fall asleep quickly and I"m not sure why...I guess I just take longer to unwind. DH is out in like 2 minutes and snoring away-drives me bonkers! So I guess that could be it. Like I said, even on no-nap days the quickest she did was 30 minutes! So that was really surprising. Sometimes she acts really tired at books so it's odd. Sometimes I will go in after a while (especially if she was acting real tired) and tell her it's time to go to sleep and she does. But I think she is somehow out of her rhythm just a bit and hopefully a small tweak will adjust it:)
    Anyways thanks for your help.

  8. One thing I tried at 3 was let her read in her rooms books with light on a it was a later bedtime but again what happened was that she took 1 hr to settle from when the lights turned out, so instead of settling quicker it was later. And somoetimes what would happen was it would be too late and she'd early wake. That's what I mean when we've tried later (even past 7 PM), it would take 1 hr from that point on, whatever that point was.
    But maybe I'll try the books on a timer again.

  9. Michael and Yvonne,
    Just keep in mind that the nap will continually change as she gets older and needs less sleep. And the same thing probably goes for bedtime with a short nap. It doesn't need to be as early as they get older. BUT, if it isn't early enough that can cause bedtime problems too. There's always something :)
    I get that it takes some people a long time to wind down before bed. I am one of those people. This happens with kids too. My 3 year old has this issue if he isn't put to bed at the right time (too early or too late) or if he has had an exciting day or has something exciting on his mind. There was a fly that my husband swatted before he went to bed the other night and he stayed up at least an hour talking to himself about it in bed before falling asleep! I just think 1 hour is a bit excessive to happen more than rarely so I would try to tweak things like you are doing to make sure it isn't caused by something. I have heard of some kids that always take a long time to settle though although I can't be sure the problem solving has been sufficient with them. But either way, you are not alone :)

  10. Thanks Rachel. Like you say there is always something to look at. She skipped nap this week once on preschool day (I think she gets overstimulated) and still took a really long time to settle. I think she is just sensitive plus it's partly her personality. I will just have to keep experimenting and seeing as she changes and gets older. BTW, I really chuckled over the story of the fly! I could see mine doing that, lol.