toddler sleep schedule--any ideas?

works-for-me-wednesday is a backwards edition this week, meaning that i pose a question, and hopefully you can help me out!

my sixteen-month-old daughter has never been a great sleeper, but finally, in the past few months, she's been waking less at night--sometimes just once.

until now.

this week she's regressed to waking up tearful again three-four times a night, and i know it's because she's exhausted. it's that awful catch 22--the more tired she is, the worse she sleeps. dylan still seems to function best on two naps, but she's beginning to resist that second nap. i'll nurse her, put her in bed, and she might just play there for an hour.

the problem is, she seems to still NEED it. (she's not even 1 1/2.) daylight savings has pushed her bedtime a little later, and she likes to take a morning nap within 2-3 hours of waking up, which makes for a L-O-N-G napless afternoon.

when she's overtired, not only does she/(we!) sleep poorly at night, exacerbating the problem, she also is more prone to falling down and hurting herself. dylan is usually a pretty careful, body conscious kid, but she's gotten more bumps and taken more falls this week than her whole life previously!

some days, we're out and she can only take one nap. on days when we're home, should i still try to get her to take two, or just attempt to delay that morning nap until after lunch?


Megret said...

It may be that she needs to switch to just one nap, as you said. The trick is putting her to bed when she's tired but NOT overtired; that backfires, as you know!

We go through spurts with our 2-1/2 year old like this and have for a year. We've learned that it may be really bad for a week, but then things just naturally fall back into line on their own. Just try to maintain consistency and it will hopefully work itself out. :)

Hope this helps.

Lisa@BlessedwithGrace said...

Sounds familiar. My daughter has been trying to drop one of her nap times for a while. I write this as she is in her crib, playing right now - instead of sleeping. She is 22 months. This started several months ago.
We are reversed though. I put her down for the morning nap. She usually plays and talks, but does not sleep. I let her stay in there, sometimes up to 1 1/2 hours. She is not unhappy and seems to be enjoying herself. It is good quiet time for her. AND, I get my shower,etc.

However, there are days when she DOES take the morning nap...then the afternoon nap does not happen. She usually goes to bed a little earlier on those nights.

She usually takes an afternoon nap, about 2 or 3pm and sleeps for 2 hours.

I am thinking, if I were you, try not putting her down, in the morning, so that she will take the afternoon nap. Maybe run the errands in the morning, so she has to stay awake.

I am in this with you. I know it is hard. Hang in there.

Charlotte said...

Thanks for encouraging me w/ the nursing and food allergy post.

We just went through this phase with our middle child. It's rough.

I agree maybe try pushing back the morning nap. Or maybe waking her after an hour.

Also, consider this: This is the age when children start dreaming. It's possible that she is having nightmares and waking up teary. Sometimes, I find my little guy crying while sleeping. I just lay queitly next to him(we pulled him out of the crib too soon so baby brother could have it) and sing softly or cuddle him. He usually doesn't wake up and calms down.

Hope that helps.

Superchikk said...

I feel your pain! My son is 19 months old and we just made the switch to 1 nap. I know others who made the switch around 12 months!

That being said, we went through a rough 2-3 month patch where he still needed 2 naps but would only take 1 (the morning nap, around 10).

We tried everything - pushing the morning nap back, making it earlier, only letting him sleep for an hour...nothing worked. He still refused to take his second nap, though he needed it desperately. And he'd be too tired at night to sleep well, thus waking several times a night. Are our kids related, you think?

Here's what I finally did. I started moving his morning nap later by 15-30 minutes at a time, and now he goes down around 12:30. In the meantime, I still put him in his bed in the afternoons for a while. Sometimes he'd fall asleep, sometimes he wouldn't. But he got time to rest and it helped him recharge and not be so cranky. It helped me not be so cranky too. We also moved his bedtime back by about 30 minutes, sometimes 45 minutes, depending on how tired he was.

I make him stay in his bed 2 1/2 hours, no matter if he sleeps that long or not. Sometimes he sleeps and hour and a half, sometimes he sleeps the whole time. But the extra rest time helps him. Sometimes if he has a short nap, he still needs some extra rest time in the late afternoon, so I'll put him in his crib with his paci, lovey, and maybe a book. He'll usually rest for 30-45 minutes and be good to go when Daddy gets home.

Good luck!

Christian Frugal Mama said...

My daughter is 19 months and gave up her second nap at around a year. I feel your pain. :) I would recommend switching to just one nap (afternoon one) and it may take a while to push it back. I read something about making the morning nap later and later in the day. I also learned recently that sometimes I just need to spend some time in her darken room with her, with my hand on her back to keep her quiet and still until she drifts off. She's fighting her only nap now too. It can be frustrating, but hang in there. It'll work out!

Becky said...

Sorry, this has to be short...

I would try the following:

arrange to be in the car or stroller around the current time of morning nap- try to let her get in a 30-45 minute catnap

faithfully put her down for an afternoon nap around 1 (for some reason this just seems to be the universal nap time) and try to ride out the storm in whatever manner you see fit- cosleeping, nursing, rocking, crying, whatever

get rigid about bedtime and waketime and bump bedtime back by about 1 hour- sometimes it's best to just take the daylight savings time bull by the horns and just go full monty with "new time"

wake her in the morning roughly 12 hours after she was theoretically supposed to be down by

I hope this helps! It's been our strategy with Charlie and it worked better than anything else although it still was far from pleasant...

Kelly said...

I'll add my 2 cents, but know I'm no pro :) My kids went to 1 nap about this age as well. Its hard for kid and momma alike. But, I think if you try to be consistent with your schedule as much as you can for a few days, it can help. Usually we'd bump lunch up to 11 sometimes if it were a rough morning, then I'd lay them down. I usually put a few books in there (I know some people are opposed to this) and if they aren't tired, I let them look at books until they fall asleep. Then I generally stay out--even if they fuss and cry a bit. In about 10 min I check on them, rub the belly, etc., if they are worked up, but usually, they are asleep by then. Even if they aren't, as someone else commented, I think its important for baby and mommy to have some alone time. I usually clean or relax during that time. I love your heart to want to grow as a mommy and help your little girl :) Hope you're able to figure something out! xoxo

Penny said...

Yep the transition from 2-1 naps isn't easy.

I agree with the previous poster about having an earlier lunch and going down for a nap afterwards. That worked quite well for us. Also, doing something reasonably active/stimulating in the morning while she adjusts to one nap can help.

Misty said...

i sort of skimmed the comments, but i really like waht becky had to say! connor is 15 months old and he sort of dropped to 1 nap on his own at a year (but this is also when we weaned due to me being pg). we also encouraged this shift to 1 nap, but like the previous commenter said, there was a window of time where it WAS a struggle, b/cs some days he'd NEED that am nap but then not take the pm nap, and that was rough. of course, i have an older child that helped me want to get them both on the same schedule!!
i might suggest, too, getting out in the am some mornings (doesn't have to be everyday) just to encourage her to be awake and if she falls asleep it's ok, but she'll wake up again when you get home... this was the easiest way for me to start pushing the nap back bit by bit. and since #1 went to bed around 1, we eventually got connor on that routine as well. however, i'll also say there are days connor just can't make it, and sure, we put him down at 1130 or whatever works.
i hate that cycle of the worse she sleeps in teh day, the worse it is at night.. but she WILL get it!!
(and i'm not sure if you're opposed to cry-it-out, but there may be some wiggle room to let her cry for a little if she fights you on going down for her nap, if for no other reason than to just get her body to get really tired)

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

Oh, we have this issue, too. My daughter wants to take just one nap and in the morning - so by the time I pick her up at the babysitter, she's one cranky girl. And it seems like she's a worse sleeper NOW than she was 9 months ago!

I'm told that having the same routine every night helps...but I have to admit I have yet to institute that!

Jenney said...

No firstborn has always been a great sleeper, and my second born is an OK one. If I hear something somewhere I will let you know!

Kelly said...

I just went through this with my 19 1/2 month old son. (he's never been a good sleeper either, didn't sleep through the night until 14 months) He would need that morning nap around 9ish and then some days wouldn't nap at all in the afternoon. Being pregnant, that is when I needed a nap! It was driving me crazy and we bounced back and forth between 1 and 2 naps depending on the day for about 3 weeks, but it drove me crazy not knowing what our schedule (roughly) would be like on any given day, so I decided to make the transition to one nap- the afternoon one. One thing I did is get outside in the morning. When I would notice him starting to look sleepy, we would either run errands or go somewhere else to play. Leaving the house made it much easier to keep him awake. I also moved his lunchtime up. We eat lunch at 11 am. I then put him down between 12 and 12:30 and he'll sleep for about an hour and a half on a good day. There are kids out there that take monster 3-hour naps every afternoon, but so far my kid isn't one of them! (maybe someday!) He has a pretty strict bedtime of 7 pm. It is still light out at 7, but we put up a roller shade and blinds in his room and we might add some curtains as well and that really helps.
Good luck, I know it can be a tricky transition and it's craziness when your little one isn't getting enough sleep!

Larissa Smith said...

Ok, I have two thoughts. First, my daughter (now almost 2 1/2) had trouble switching from one nap to two. She yo-yo'd for weeks, taking only one for a few days, then needing two for a few days. It was her body's way of adjusting. So bear with it; she may switch to just one nap soon and then you can gradually adjust the time that it happens.

Second, you might try putting her down way early at night once it's dark. If daylight savings time has messed with her waking up - then going to bed earlier might help her get back to being rested, and then you can see where it leaves you in regard to naps. Plus, if she's better rested in the morning, she might last longer in the day and be able to take one good nap.

Hang in there. Toddlers hit a stretch of transition and lose consistency for a while. It will come again. You can help by making each day fairly similar. Maybe having a snack about the time she starts acting sleep to give her an energy boost? Or outdoor play to hold her off, then a half hour of reading/singing to really settle down before it's time to sleep?

Kirstin said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by and for your detergent tips. We'll see what I come up with (C:

My girls are no longer toddlers and when they were, they took two naps for quite awhile...I'm not sure when we went to one. I think the other gals had great tips.

debojo said...

Ha! Not that you need anymore advice :) BUT - I switched the little man to one nap around 18 months for a couple of reasons. One, he was starting to wake up in the middle of the night and never had before. Two, he would do the same thing for the second nap (fight it). SO - over a course of a few weeks/month or so (maybe longer?) I would basically try to do three or so days in a row with just an afternoon nap - forcing him to skip the morning nap, which would make him definitely tired enough for a long afternoon nap. At first, I kept the afternoon nap pretty early...sometimes as early as 11:30 am (just feeding him an early lunch beforehand) - and gradually moved it later and later. Usually on the third or fourth day I'd have him take two naps again, since he wasn't quite used to it. Anyways, I would say he has transitioned really well, and is taking a 1.5-2.5 hour nap every afternoon now! Hope that helps? said...

in my experience, the less regimented you are, the better ;-)

Melissa D at said...

One thing is for sure -- every child has his or her own clock and personality! I have a 3 yr old who slept like a charm and was very regulated. My 14mo old is... not like that at all, and never took a morning nap from the day we brought her home from the hospital. It was hell for a while. In your case, I think I'd ditch the morning nap or only let it be for half an hour -- enough for some downtime but not to interfere with real rest later. Then try eating an early lunch at 11 or so, and putting him down around 1 for another hour or 2.... Our bedtime is around 8 and we need at least a good 5 hours between that afternoon nap and bedtime. I had to let #2 cry it out a little since it seemed like she really needed to let that energy out somehow before she could sink into good sleep. She still wakes or half-wakes at night but nothing like she used to, and many nights sleeps right on through.

Good luck!

suzannah | the smitten word said...

thanks to everyone for great tips and encouragement.

it may have taken 1 1/2 years, but at 20 months, dylan is finally a good sleeper! we weaned her off that morning nap, she takes one good afternoon nap, and we get her in bed around 8. it was rocky there for a month or so, but she found her routine, and FINALLY sleeps through the night.

although in a little under four months, baby #2 will be making his debut...i guess you gotta take the sleep where you can get it and be thankful for what you've got:)

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