Wakes up 7am.
Naps like a brick 1-3pm.
Asleep 8:30pm.


Wakes up 7am.
Doesn't nap at pre-k.
Dozes off in chair at dinner.
Sleep 8:30pm.

For the last three years, my son has been taking solid 90 to 120 minute naps every day. Since September pre-k, he doesn't nap at all and is completely miserable and cranky all evening.

How do we get him to nap again at pre-k? (He's always napped well all previous years in daycare.)

3 Answers 3


Personally I don't think you should go back to napping if it's not really what he does. Weekday routines may not be conducive to naps and naturally he may be tired and cranky in the evenings. But depending on interaction and choice of activities this may work to your advantage.

My kids would fall asleep in cars at very inconvenient times if I didn't engage them in a way that keeps them from caving in on the fatigue behavior. So I'd play games, save certain things they like doing for evenings, etc, so they are distracted enough so that when bedtime comes around 8PM they just fall right asleep. That was a tricky ecosystem to build because their inconvenient car naps and such would mean 8PM bedtime would require a parent to lay there for hours fighting the crazy - effectively making bed time somewhere closer to 10PM - and the horror of life is fully realized.

So we'd ask them to point out things as we drive, play board games and bath time, which they love, or play something like super mario brothers and this would keep them occupied enough to kind of gloss over how tired they were. Our youngest just turned 4 and she still caves in a little. Especially at dinner time, which tends to be around 6:30 or 7. That's the biggest time threat, which means playing word games with her or telling goofy stories at the table to keep her focused on anything besides being tired.

We were right there with you, and dinner is still challenging cause she will eat absolutely nothing if she's tired and that means she will stroll in around midnight claiming to be hungry... which basically spells doom for the rest of the night and tomorrow. So we know what you're feeling but I think phasing the naps out on weekdays was better for us and could work for you depending on what your evenings are like. Sometimes we have to work on things in the evenings so I get it if total engagement isn't an option, or is generally unrealistic.

Things our kids (4 and 5) like to do with us -

  • board games like operation, matching games anything related to legos
  • dollhouse stories, which means playing dolls however you feel fit
  • baths
  • bike riding outside
  • jogging around the neighborhood
  • playing video games, though the 4 year old doesn't quite get it yet
  • pulling them around on a blanket
  • couch forts
  • dinner time stories (like the broccoli people adventures or something equally insane)

They grow fast so it's probably just a phase that will be gone before you know it, but good luck. I know how hard everything is when you're exhausted from something simple like your kid sleeping off schedule.

  • This is a good answer, but I'd like to point out that napping in the car at nap time is how we transitioned our 4 year old from hour long afternoon naps to none at all in a matter of a week. My nanny could get my son to nap at home right up until I went on maternity leave and he started started pre k (same week). He was miserable at first and then we started taking the long way home (35 min instead of 20) and letting him sleep in the car for a few minutes. By the next week he was fine. We pushed bedtime back from 8 to 7:30 too.
    – Jax
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 22:16
  • @Jax True, but that depends on when you're in a car and when nap time makes sense. In our case the drive home is like 5:30, which would make for a terrible nap time. Even 20 minutes would mean they were up till midnight being insane. Varies from kid to kid of course. Ours never napped after preschool because they got out at noon. Then they would come with us to work or some place "fun" or fun enough to keep them occupied and their next chance to just sit and relax was a longish ride home. That was our case so occupying them in the car became necessary.
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 22:28
  • At 4yrs you really should be following your sons natural needs regarding sleep rather than forcing him into a routine for no reason. My advice would be to skip the naps and work on getting him to bed earlier in the evenings. Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 22:39

Our son was doing the exact same thing. We asked his pediatrician and she said that's fine for someone his age. Just make sure they get the recommended total amount of sleep, which is 10-13 hours (depending on the child.) We started putting him to bed earlier at night (730pm) and he's been doing better. (We were putting him to bed at 9 with a 75 minute nap.) If he's really tired, then off to be at 630 or 700.

Just recently he stopped sleeping at school, although he comes home tired from all the activity.


Talk to the pre-K about it. Sometimes if they're aware of the issues they can change things on their end, like turning down the lights during nap time.

However, there's a good chance they won't change, in which case you either have to move to a different pre-K or adjust your schedule, such as by giving him an earlier dinner and bedtime or getting him up later.

At 4, your kid probably won't be napping that much longer anyway.


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