Sleep Problems with a 3.5 year old - HELP — The Bump
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Sleep Problems with a 3.5 year old - HELP

I have a 3.5 year old boy who is really challenging me daily as a parent.  He's my first born so maybe I just haven't figured this age out yet.   I am having so many problems trying to get him to go to sleep both at nap time and bedtime.    I have read where they should get 12 hours of sleep.   He's only sleeping 8 at night and then a 1-2 hour nap so he's not getting near the 12 hours he needs.   The problem is he fights it so much that I don't know what else to do.   For example, last night he was so tired by 7:30 (rubbing his eyes, yawning, etc) but he didn't actually fall asleep until 10:15.   I've tried cutting out his nap, shortening his nap, and letting him sleep as long as he wants but nothing seems to help our bedtime routine.  At both naptime and bedtime, I have to lock him in his room and he then just plays and jumps on his bed.   It is STRESSING me to the max!   Today it took 45 minutes to get him to go down for his nap.   I know he needs more sleep but as a parent, I don't know what else to do!   Please tell me I'm not the only one with this problem!! 

Re: Sleep Problems with a 3.5 year old - HELP

  • Every kid is different. Both of mine gave up naps by age 2.  One of mine needs way less sleep than the average bear.  I agree w/pp who says that you can't force him to sleep, but you can set up the scene, so to speak. It certainly sounds like he is probably not needing a nap anymore.  Pick a  time in the evenings to start winding down, settle in w/some books & low music & I think w/dropping the nap during the day you're probably going to get some more hours in at night. 
  • We had to drop nap by 2 1/2.  I stuck with quiet time pretty hard core but then it got to where if she slept then bed time was a HUGE battle.  I actively discourage naps now.  I get her down for bed far faster than DH does so it may be that your DS knows how to play you some. 

    When DD is playing too much and not getting with it all I am very specific.  If I get to a count of 3 she goes directly downstairs to the booster seat buckled in alone in the kitchen for 10 min. (longer if needed).  She doesn't have to get to that point very often with me at all.  My 3 1/2 year old and 17m old go to bed at the same time in the same room.  I read 2 stories with her on my lap then 1 story with DS on my lap and DD in her bed then lights out, sound machine and music on and every one in bed and crib.  I sit for about 5-10 min.  DONE

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  • Glad you posted this, I'm going through the same thing. I'm thinking we need to drop the nap too but he is such a beast without it. 
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  • it's really hard!  we had to do sleep bootcamp back in the early spring, and it made a HUGE difference.  we employed the use of a sticker/reward chart, as well as taking away privileges when he didn't follow the expectations.  we thought through every step of the battle (because the WHOLE night was a battle!) and we set up safeguards in the form of rules, physical barriers or even just robot-like scripting to minimize any potential for struggle or argument.

    he got one chance to pee/poop (this formerly was a MAJOR point of manipulation on his part), then we did the night routine, and the door stayed cracked open.  if he came out, he got one warning and was sent straight back to bed with a kiss (barring any major issues, of course).  if he came out a second time, the door was closed completely and he wasn't able to earn his sticker for the night.  no arguing, just the same robotic pattern night after night.  OH!  and NO sleeping in mom & dad's bed, at all.  he could snuggle in the morning when we were all awake, but that was it.

    3 stickers on the chart meant he could have a fun family activity (usually it was going out for a shared ice cream treat after dinner) to celebrate his good behavior.

    that's the system that worked with us.  i won't pretend to assume it's a magic bullet for all toddlers or preschoolers, but it's the little slice of heaven that eventually finally did the trick for us (and for that we are ETERNALLY grateful!!)

    hang in there...  sleep woes with older kiddos are the royal pits!
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