Sleep. It’s the problem that plagues all parents. We’re not getting enough of it because our children aren’t getting enough of it. Help is on its way! Israeli sleep coach Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our 2-year-old seems to be in the phase where she is having difficulties falling asleep at night when she naps during the day. We tried taking away her naps completely, but after four days- she was exhausted and had caught a cold. The only benefit was she went to bed at 7 and slept until the next morning. Now, she naps, goes to bed most nights at 9:30 p.m. and still wakes up at 6:30 a.m. It just doesn’t seem like enough sleep for a little one. Or for our little one. We would appreciate an earlier bed time so that she is better rested, but she just won’t fall asleep. I’m starting to believe 2-year-olds don’t sleep. Any thoughts?
Each child is different in her own individual way, and especially in her sleep needs. There are children who stop taking naps as early as 2 years of age and some who still need one at 4 years old. Statistically, however, most children stop napping in the afternoon at around 2½-3 years old. A telltale sign that a child is ready to give up naps is when she starts sleeping less at night—which is precisely what is happening with her. Instead of eliminating her nap cold turkey, however, I would recommend readjusting her sleep cycle by simply decreasing the amount of sleep she gets during the day. If, for example, her nap is normally 2 hours, try shortening it to 1 hour or 1.5 hours. By doing this, the lost sleep from the day will transfer to the night, and she will begin fighting bedtime less and sleeping longer.
Additionally, early rising with toddlers is most commonly caused by over-tiredness, so you should definitely aim for an earlier bedtime. Generally, most children her age need approximately 4-5 hours between waking from the nap and bedtime itself so ensure you space it out correctly.
Stick with these two ideas for at least week and then readjust accordingly – but don’t rush her and ensure that you follow her cues…you can most definitely get her back on track!