A series of guides, sleep schedules, and average sleep needs that outline realistic sleep expectations for each age.
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Realistic Sleep Expectations
Somewhere between the age of 3 and 4 years old, your child will likely begin their final nap transition. A 3 year old who is napping once a day will need about 1.5 hours of daytime sleep and about 10.5 hours overnight. Once they drop their nap, they will need some quiet time in the early afternoon followed by an earlier bedtime and much more overnight sleep (closer to 11.5 hours!). Check out the example schedules below for a 3 year old who is napping, and one who is not.
Like any other transition, your child will fluctuate between days when they need a nap and days they don’t. You’ll likely see a lot of late afternoon car naps on no-nap days. Totally normal. Heck, most adults still need a nap just after lunch!Reach out to a coach
Example sleep schedules for a 3-4 year old
Here are example schedules for you to take a look at. Take a minute to notice the timing of bedtime, and how it shifts earlier again when your child drops their nap. Don’t forget, you can realistically expect to have both napping days and no-nap days sprinkled throughout this period as your child begins the transition.
What can you expect from a 3 year old who isn’t ready for sleep? (for example when bedtime is too early) You guessed it: in and out of bed, multiple trips to the washroom, more water, requests for mommy to come back and sing more, toddler bed gymnastics, etc. Sometimes, even becoming upset and fighting bedtime. If there is insufficient sleep drive built up throughout the day, these behaviours are both common and totally normal. This is one of the biggest indications that your little one is ready to drop their nap.
By 3 years of age, your child will be able to understand the request “stay in your bed all night”. This means that, if you haven’t already, it is a great time to transition your toddler from a crib to a toddler bed. It is also a great time to introduce a Gro Clock or similar product to help your child improve their independence in knowing whether or not it is time to get up for the day when they wake in the morning. Check out our Must-Haves page to see the products we love and recommend!
Bedtime Anxieties & Fears
Around the age of 3 or so, children can start feeling scared of the dark, become afraid of monsters, start having nightmares and start alluding to anxieties in their day to day life. Sometimes, simple reassurance is all they need. Opening the door a crack, adding a night light and reading bedtime books that address these anxieties are often extremely helpful as well.
Support options for parents of 3-4 year olds
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The Sleep Parenting program is amazing in that it offers unparalleled support through teething, sickness, developmental leaps, travel, daylight savings, etc. The time allotted takes into account that your baby is going to change and what you're really developing are the skills to be able to respond and support your child through those challenges which lead to longer naps, better overnights and thankfully a rested and happy mama. I am so thankful.