My 2½ year old daughter does not want to sleep, regardless how tired she is. she will do anything and everything she can think of, just to avoid falling asleep. It usually takes 1-1½ hours (sometimes even longer) before she gives in to sheer exhaustion.

This has been going on for her whole existence and we had it sorted but now she has regressed and is cranky and screaming and crying all the time and wakes up screaming of a night time and in the morning. It is not nightmares its pure cranky, frustrated toddler.

It does not matter at all how well we exhaust her during the day. Currently she is in day care and sleeps no problems there for her midday nap without anyone staying with her or anything.

She fights to go to sleep and wakes frequently. We have a new baby who is now 9 weeks old and she adores him and I know this is probably making things worse but she was doing this before he was born also

I often joke that she's got a hyperactivity disorder, but Its not actually the case

How can I find out why my daughter does not want to sleep, and how can I help her and the rest of the family to get her sleeping peacefully and waking up a happy girl?

She is in bed between 7.30-8 and has anywhere from 1.5 - 2 hrs at lunch time.

  • 2
    Not falling asleep centers the attention on her. At daycare, where this would not end up in a lot of extra attention, she sleeps. I know it does sound very hard, but maybe giving her less attention and just let her struggle until she sleeps might help. Craving attention does not have to start with the birth of a sibling, it can easily start earlier when the baby in the belly already changes things at home.
    – skymningen
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 8:45

3 Answers 3


If your child's room is safe and you know she is healthy and unharmed, how about trying letting her stay up? She only must stay in her room. No music or TV, but her toys are fine. The lights stay on IF she stays in her room. Perhaps use a camera nanny to check that she remains physically okay.

This takes the pressure off and no one has to be mad. Later, you simply turn off the lights, or not as you like. It will do her no harm to sleep on the floor and I would imagine that she'll decide bed is more comfortable sooner than later.

Regular loving bedtime routines remain in place. Just take the pressure off and see if it helps. Good luck!


I have been that mother whose kid could not sleep, so I truly sympathise. 2.5 is really young. Usually if they are really tired, they will sleep for a decent stretch before waking up again (even if it did take them an hour to fall asleep).

I will just throw out a remote possibility for you to consider - does she have sensitive skin? Does she scratch or rub herself in a very irritated manner after waking? If so, try hotwashing the beddings and towels once a week and changing your laundry detergent to that for sensitive skin. With a new baby changing beddings may have taken a backseat. It may be that at the child care centre, they wash the beddings more regularly or the nap is so short the problems do not really show up. Or it could be the sleeping temperature and humidity etc. You can also keep track of her dinners, esp nights when she seem to sleep better, to see if there is a pattern.

As for not wanting to sleep in the first place, I agree with Willow Rex that quiet time is a good alternative. An audiobook may be a good way to occupy her quietly and provide her with some comfort while giving you a much needed break. Remember to pick a gentle story if you don't want her to stay up too late! :)

  • your sensitive skin point is most excellent and humidity can make a huge difference. In our old apartment we had radiators and we'd wake with blocked noses and sore throats. Our 'cure' was a pot of water on the rad.
    – WRX
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 14:56
  • @willowrex, guess who had an itchy scratchy non sleeping baby? :p
    – Stone
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 1:34
  • too bad! I hope you sleep tonight. Poor babe...
    – WRX
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 1:55

Perhaps she misses you during the day and wants to spend as much time with you as possible.

Children also desire repeatable, consistent experiences.

So, you may want to try spend time with her in the evening right before bed - make it part of her nighttime routine - read her a story (or whatever) with you close to her. Once she starts to get groggy, rub her back or her head and she should go to sleep rather quickly.

Two things are important - (1) she is not permitted to get out of bed during this time (2) the routine is at the same time every day.

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