I have a 3.5 year old who recently started resisting his afternoon nap. He always went to sleep nursing, and after weaning (1 year ago) I bought my first stroller and we started taking walks to help him go to sleep. I've never forced it and he's always been willing. Recently, he's started resisting the stroller walk, but he really needs his nap still and will melt down around dinner time for hours, sometimes fall asleep in his soup, etc. Then he's up till midnight or later, which gets really rough for me.
I don't force things that are not safety issues, and I'd love for him to opt for the stroller walk himself, but at 3.5, I don't know that he can make the connection between how he is feeling and how much sleep he's had. It took me into my late 20s to make that connection, and by then I was a mama so there was no way I was going to get enough sleep ;o)
So what do you do when your young ones need to sleep and don't want to?
We go to the bedroom and lie down and if she keeps getting up I gently remind her that it is time for sleep and we will play later - repeat as many times as necessary.
Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012
Nursing is how my three year old naps. I cannot imagine how he would otherwise!
My son is like your child though, he would be asleep at the dinner table if he didn't nap , and then wake 3 hours later to be up until midnight.
Many, if not most, 3.5 have dropped or are in the process of dropping a nap. Maybe it is time to accept the change and focus on the rest of the schedule.
3 is a very normal age for a child to drop their nap naturally, although some will argue that. Some people firmly believe every child at age three needs a nap no matter what. But from what I observe many kids just drop it, and do fine. However....many drop it and seem to still need it, which is very tough.
My son isn't quite 3 yet (will be in a few months), and already some months ago he seemed to drop his nap. He started at a preschool where they have a nap and he usually naps there, although every couple weeks it'll happen that he can't sleep there either. I think the environment there and that every other kid is sleeping help him relax into sleep.
On the weekends the only thing that works for us is a drive in the car. He used to sleep in the stroller too but it seems he doesn't want to go in the stroller much anymore ~we rarely use it anyway but he resists if around midday I suggest a walk. So, we often plan weekend activities that we do something relatively active in the morning and plan to drive home around 1:00 and he'll usually fall asleep in the car....but not always! Other than that I do try to have a midday break and we go to bed and read. He doesn't fall asleep but it is a quiet rest which is better than nothing. Many parents implement a rest period with low lights and various rest "activities" (stories on CD, read books, listen to calming music) and find that even if their kids don't sleep they still benefit from the time out.
I know I could get more strict and do what Katelove does....but I know our "repeat as many times as necessary" would be for hours and likely still not result in sleep and even if....I do not want to spend hours of my afternoon trying to enforce a nap, I would end up frustrated. But I know that is the best option for some because their kids just totally melt down in the evening otherwise. My boy does get kinda grumpy from about 5-7....but nothing overly dramatic and for me I don;t mind dealing with that as much as I would trying to "make" him sleep.
Mama since 2010
Multicultural living in Europe
When my milk dried up (DS was 2.5), I was panicked and felt like I had NO way of helping him rest, short of the car seat, and I didn't want to take him for a drive after lunch every day. The stroller has been amazing and he transitioned so well, that is, until he stopped wanting to ride in it! Last few days (after I relaxed a bit and realized I really do not want to force it), he's gone in with no complaint, but it's dicey some days for sure!
I've tried to believe that he is dropping the nap and that he may not need it anymore, and some days it seems that's true, and we might have an earlier bedtime, but he does just fine. Other days he is dramatic from one meltdown to another, screams that he can't walk, lies down on the floor, and is completely nonfunctional. I can be a calm presence and be there for him and help him through it all, but after a few hours it sure is exhausting!!
When our DD dropped her nap she was a lot like your son sounds.
Some days she would be fineish, and others the evenings were hell with meltdowns etc.
She needed to drop the nap, but still needed to have a nap.
It worked itself out after a few weeks. We moved dinner and bedtime up a bit earlier at first. And then gradually moved it back again.
She now sleeps 8pm to 7-7:30am
But when she was dropping the nap, we put her to bed at 6-6:30pm. If she got too over tired it was hell and she would be up too late.
Maybe try having rest period. She would say she wasn;t tired. We would tell her that she didn't have to sleep but just rest. Some days she would fall asleep.
The only down fall to her dropping naps is that now if she happens to have a nap, even for 20 minutes, it pushes her bedtime later by hours. But she wakes at the same time. So she becomes sleep diprived. So now we can not let her nap even for a few minutes.
Me 40 . Partner to mamacolleen 33 . DD born July 2009 . Twin boys born Nov 2012.
We are a family that loves
My daughter is almost three (in June) and sometimes isn't crazy about taking a nap, but I have a one year old boy too, and I would die if it weren't for their joint nap at 1ish every day! Anyway, what I tell her is that it's quiet time, and she needs to get some rest so she will be happy later. I let her have a couple toys and books in bed, and tell her she can play or read quietly if she wants, but she's not allowed to get off of the bed. I can tell if she does because her room is upstairs, and if she is stomping around I go back up and make her get back in bed. I don't even have to do that anymore now, because after a few minutes of reading or playing, she falls asleep anyway.
So my advice would be to maybe change the name, I call it resting, or quiet time. And just put him in his bed and let him know he can play quietly. Leaving my daughter alone is what really seals the deal. If I were in there, she would just want to play. But I hear boys can be rowdier than girls, so this may not work for you! But you could try!
Napping is also largely cultural:
All infants 12 months and under took naps. By age 3, about 50% of kids took naps. Thirty-five percent of 4-year olds took naps (Iglowstein et al 2003).
The Swiss data are probably consistent with practices in other Northern European and Anglo cultures—-cultures where daytime sleep is discouraged for older children and adults (e.g., Iceland: Thorleifsdottir et al 2002).
But the truth is that human beings are very flexible about when and how they meet their sleep requirements.
In many parts of the world, napping is a normal part of life for children and adults (Worthman and Melby 2002). In fact, the historical and anthropological evidence suggests that humans were designed to get their sleep in at least two separate shifts (Worthman and Melby 2003; Ekirch 2005).
So the Swiss study is not representative of kids living in “pro-napping” or “siesta” cultures around the Mediterranean and in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
For instance, in Saudi Arabia, napping is common among older kids. According to a study of school-age children in Riyadh, 45% of 13-year olds take regular naps (BaHamman et al 2006).
And even in countries where napping is discouraged by the mainstream, specific ethnic groups may encourage napping. In the Southern United States, African-American kids are much more likely to nap—and to nap more frequently—than are European American kids (Crosby et al 2005). In one study, 40% of African-Americans were still taking naps at 8 years of age (Crosby et al 2005).
we nap! and love it
my DD had to stop at 6 but didn't want to and my now 5 year old still takes a daily along with me or DH- now way at 3 would either do without- at 3 they both were still taking 2 naps a day
I find it extremely beneficial to them and still go to bed at 8PM to 7:30AM- we don't have meltdowns and cranky dinners either- never did.
there was a recent thread in childhood about napping - http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1369728/naps-vs-social-times-for-a-4-year-old
ETA- a friend of mine, her granddaughter is in a public all day K and they have to take a nap each afternoon at school
My DS (3) is also in the process of dropping his afternoon nap too...unfortunately mama is in the third trimester and desperately needs some downtime in the afternoon, so he has to spend an hour alone in his room, so I can lay down for awhile and recover enough to face the evening.
Some days he seems to do fine without one, and others are pretty trying (endless whining all evening, icky behavior, clearly tired, etc), but on the plus side, I was able to move his bedtime forward a bit so I have a bit more time to myself in the evening.
Don't know what I'm going to do with this poor kid when the baby comes...
Thanks to everyone for the wonderful advice. If DS doesn't fall asleep during stroller walk, I tell him I need a 20 minute nap and I set the timer, and ask him to make it possible for me to rest. He doesn't need to be in bed because I make it about me. And truthfully, on those days, it really is about me. I nap with DS every day (that he naps anyway) and when I don't get MY nap, I have a hard time around bedtime--so I'm holding onto it as much for me as for him. Last night we were up a lot (he is covered in chigger bites, ugh), and today we both slept for hours--I have no clue when we'll go to sleep tonight but hopefully the big rest will give us energy to deal with it...
I know some people can leave their kids alone and do the stay in bed thing, but DS from birth has been so attached to me he literally screams if I leave the room of our own house without him. I love calling it resting time though and having some quiet time, and that really does seem to help, at least to keep energy low.
I am going to check out those links--I love learning about what people in other cultures do--I read an article on bedtimes a long time ago and was thrilled to hear that in some countries, kids just stay up with adults and fall asleep whenever they're tired (which is what we did until DS really starting wanting to be on a schedule--not my style, but that's okay)
No clue what I would do if I had another child, either, and I'd like to at some point...double stroller maybe? ;o)
My 15mo DD is going through a shift in nap times (she's starting to skip a nap and goes betweeen 1-2x a day) and in the process doesn't just go to sleep like she used to - she will ask to nurse while rubbing her eyes, but as soon as she's done she's up and on the run. So what I've done is offer it up as quiet time. She goes in her room into her crib and I give her different books or a few quiet toys and she will usually play for 20mins or so before she puts herself to sleep. I know she's far too young to not nap, and on the days she only naps once in the afternoon, it's an earlier bedtime. So a 2 nap day is 8pm bed, where a 1 nap day might be 6 or 7pm, depending how well she holds herself together. I also find I have to put her in her room when she's not "tired" bc she's more accepting of being left to play and sleep vs being tired and cranky and refusing to go down no matter how many times or how I nurse her.