3 Year Old Sleep Regressions


Our question is, Joe, who will be three shortly? Sometimes he is over tired during the day. Should we reintroduce his daytime nap, which we haven’t had since the beginning of the year or do we bring his bedtime forward? Because it’s very hard to keep him up past seven o’clock.

So yeah, age three can be really tricky because some are ready to stop napping, whereas others still need some sleep in the daytime until they’re closer to four, even four and a half. So if this little one hasn’t been napping for a long time in the day, there probably is some built up over tiredness. But we are now approaching three and there’s a good chance that that nap would be on the way out anyway. So reintroducing it at this stage is probably not the best move. By all means allow catch up sleeps. If he nods off in the day, let him sleep. I wouldn’t disturb him. If you are out and about, he nods off on the go, he needs it. So I would let him have that sleep, but I wouldn’t enforce a nap now if he’s not used to doing one. I absolutely would say, yes, go ahead with the early to bed.

Early nights are going to be key right now because the length of the day is probably a bit too much for him. So if we are not going to get sleep in the middle of the day, then we need to chip a bit off the end of the day and make bedtime earlier. A lot of parents would be fearful of doing an early bedtime because they’re going to worry that going to bed earlier is going to mean waking up earlier the next morning, but it doesn’t work that way. In fact, actually if this little one’s continuing to go to bed too late and is overtired, the night sleep will be worse. So getting to bed earlier is good. Definitely, asleep by 7:00 PM, latest, and if he’s ready to go to sleep even earlier, that will be fine too.

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