SHE FIXED HER 3-YEAR-OLD’S BEDTIME BATTLES BY NIXING NAPS
Tonya Simpson, attorney in a DA’s office; mom of a 15-, an 11- and a 3-year-old; Babylon, NY
The problem: Because he couldn’t stay up as late as his older siblings, nothing could entice Tonya’s youngest, Xavier, to go to bed and stay there. His mom tried new sheets (not even the Minions worked), rewards ( like special breakfasts), sound machines and getting into bed with him for “a little while.” “I even went as far as getting a fancy night light. That was an epic fail because my son kept bringing it out to us!” admits Tonya.
The solution: A couple of times, Xavier skipped his nap—and slept all night without waking. Although Tonya didn’t purposefully allow it, she knew a good thing when she saw it; now if he doesn’t nod off by 2 p.m., she keeps him up.
The result: He gets sleepier earlier and goes to bed more willingly—at least 99 percent of the time. Xavier gets a little cranky in the p.m., but as long as they keep him moving in the backyard or playground, he is OK.
Her advice: “Skipping a nap is worth it. You get an earlier bedtime, which has been beneficial,” she says, adding that her husband, who works shifts, isn’t around to help most nights.
The expert’s take: A Johns Hopkins University study suggested that when kids are ready to give up their nap (usually around age
3 or 4), it can lead to longer nighttime z’s—and longer attention spans too. Just be warned:
“If you take away a 3-year-old’s nap, you must commit to an earlier bedtime,” says Dr. Roban. Kids this age still need 11 to 12 hours of sleep, so you must make up the extra time at night, as Tonya did. Otherwise, the sleep deprivation can lead to night waking, early rising and more, says Dr. Roban. Just don’t ditch naps for kids younger than 3; babies and toddlers still need ’em.