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2.5-yr-old refusing to go to bed

Over the past week my 2.5 year old is now refusing to go and stay in bed, completely wide awake until 9pm (usual bedtime is 7.30 with his brother). He still has a nap at daycare (from 1.5 to 2.5 hours). I’m wondering if there’s some kind of developmental leap or something around this age as he genuinely is wide awake and no matter what we do he’s just not tired? We follow the same routine dinner, bath, quiet time, book and bed but it’s gone pear shaped!

What you are experiencing is not an uncommon occurence for parents.  As children mature their sleep patterns change somewhat and I suspect what you may need to do is shorten the daycare nap or eliminate it all together.  There will be a bit of an adjustment and your child may find it difficult at first and you might find their behaviour a bit irritable but your child will get used to the change and as such should fall back into an earlier bed time at night.  Quite simply, your child is getting too much sleep during the day and now needs to transition out of this in order to sleep well at night.

Dr Michael Nagel

Dr Michael Nagel

Associate Professor, School of Education, University of the Sunshine Coast

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It sounds like you are on the right track with following the same routine every night.

A set time to go to bed every night may help your toddler to expect sleep. If toddlers get over-tired, they may have a harder time falling asleep, wake up more during the night, and even wake up earlier in the morning. Find out what time your toddler naps at day care as toddlers who nap later may need a later bedtime. The key is to watch for those yawns that signal he's getting sleepy. If he kicks into "overdrive" mode, his body will be pumping out adrenaline, and getting him into bed will be much harder.

Starting the wind-down process early in the evening may help your toddler to unwind while providing a sense of security. Try diming the lights an hour before bedtime as part of your routine.

Check the amount of sugar content of food your toddler eats in the evening, and make sure he gets enough fresh air, sunshine and exercise during the day.

All in all, it is quite normal for your toddler’s sleep routine to regress at times.

Sharon McKinlay

Sharon McKinlay

Early Learning Consultant, Goodstart Early Learning

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