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How much sleep do 3 year olds need?

My soon to be 3 ye old has started sleeping significantly less recently and I am curious if this is normal. The biggest issue is his mood when he wakes up super early. He is whiney and cries easily. I try to get him to go back to bed but it doesn't work at all. He is also resisting naps, which makes him cranky later in the day. Help!

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Asked by bugfin at 2:28 PM on Sep. 8, 2011 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 15 (1,935 Credits)
Answers (10)
  • That's typical. I would just try to keep him on a schedule. If he's getting up earlier you could try putting him down a little earlier. Try hanging curtains in his window to keep his room darker for longer. Even if he doesn't nap you should still give him quiet time at the same time as he'd usually nap. If he's tired he'll go to sleep but at least he'll have the time to wind down and chill out, which would probably help with the whining. Good luck!

    Answer by ajbrownies at 2:30 PM on Sep. 8, 2011

  • 12 hours total
    10 hrs at night,2 1 hour naps

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 2:31 PM on Sep. 8, 2011

  • He hasn't taken 2 naps since he was 15 months. He has alwasy taken one 1.5-2 hour one. Any advice on how to keep him quiet on laying down? He tends to get up every 10-20 minutes as a rule.

    Comment by bugfin (original poster) at 2:34 PM on Sep. 8, 2011

  • My daugter never napped! She sleeps 7 to 7. Except for holidays.

    Answer by MLM0503 at 2:38 PM on Sep. 8, 2011

  • My 3 yr old started resisting nap time, so this is what I did.

    I put him in bed and leave the door open (used to be closed). He knows it is time to be quiet, he can have a book with him or a toy if he is quiet. I sit nearby and get him back to bed if he gets up. He usually falls asleep within 30 minutes. An hour if he is really stubborn that day.

    Of course this all rests on my 1yr old being quiet or taking a nap at the same time. We also got a clock that lights up at a certain time every morning and tell him he can't get out of bed until that light comes on. We started it about 10 minutes later than he usually woke and then moved it as he started sleeping later. It doesn't always work, but at least he has something to look at to know if he should try to get out of bed.

    Answer by AngZacc at 2:46 PM on Sep. 8, 2011

  • sleep requirements vary widely for children, just as they do for adults. If he falls asleep easily in the car, on a very short trip, then he isn't getting enough sleep. I would simply make bedtime a bit earlier until I found the right amount for him.

    Answer by Mom2Just1Kiddo at 7:03 PM on Sep. 8, 2011

  • It reminds me of my son who would sleep short periods of time and then fight sleep for fear of missing something or what's going on. I like the lighted clock idea listed above. If not that then some other visual or audible clue that lets him know he can now get up. Also, start off wth a few minutes and extend the time from there. I always kept picture books near his bed to give his hungry little mind something to feed on.


    Answer by Kelli23221 at 7:38 PM on Sep. 8, 2011

  • One step ahead has the great clock. It is a bit pricey, $30 , if I remember correctly but does it ever work. I have 3 yo twins and they started to wake at 5:45. we got the clock and now the y stay in bed until " the bunny on the clock wakes up" now, that being said, since potty training this summer, we are up when their bladders are ready to unload. This is ok for my son, if it is really early he will go right back to bed tll 7. My daughter on the other hand when she is up she is up. Does make for a long day sometimes. But, this morning they didn't get up till 7:15. I was awake before them, which was kind of nice. Hope this helps ;)

    Answer by AandOmommy at 3:43 AM on Sep. 13, 2011

  • Most say 12 hours so 7-7 if they don't nap. now i got a 3 year old who refused to go to sleep until about midnight, doesn't matter if lights are off, no noise, nothing on, he will sit in the dark on his bed playing or talking to himself. He is up by 720 every morning and at school by no later then 745, he is in school till 230 come home has a snack, dinner around 6, bath by 8. If he does fall asleep early like at 7pm he gets up at 230am and will be up til 630 and fall asleep then is cranky when i get him up for school.

    Answer by vgiron at 3:53 AM on Sep. 13, 2011

  • I'm just going out on a limb here but I'm thinking how every many hours you need of sleep- minus 2 and thats how much your 3 yr old needs. If thats the case than we can get our 3 yr olds together and get our last 2 hours of sleep each! lol

    But really, I find myself making sure she goes potty in the am, get her some juice or milk and a lite breakfast than back to bed with some puzzles so I can finish my nights sleep. The only difference is my LO doesn't really nap but we do have silent time most days, other wise she just goes to bed a bit sooner.

    Good luck!

    Answer by DonnaPinitonya at 3:55 AM on Sep. 13, 2011

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