My almost 3-year-old still naps once a day for about 1-2 hours. Lately, over the past week or so, she's been waking up crying and super needy. Nothing has really changed within her nap routine, she lays down on her own and wakes up on her own as per usual but I don't understand why she's waking up crying. At first, I thought it was a nightmare, but it's been persistently happening every day now for the past week (with the exception of car rides). I miss the days when she would wake up super happy with her bedhead hair and hugs.

I found a very similar question here, but that one seems to be more about a toddler who frequently wakes up cranky, rather than a recent phase as I am suggesting. Mods, feel free to close if these are too similar!

Question: Have any of you all been through this? Do you have any tips on how to help her wake up in better moods?

2 Answers 2


Poor quality sleep could be the immediate cause of this behavior. Has anything changed recently that may have affected sleep? Any recent changes in room temperature, noise, light? Any changes in the diet, such as lunch? Any changes in clothing (too itchy) or laundry detergent or fabric softener? Any new scary books or TV programs? Any recent other changes to the routine, such as nighttime sleep/wake times?

  • The only change I can think of is potty training in the last weeks. She’s picked up on it super well, however at night she has been going to the rest room a lot more in the beginning hours of her bedtime even if we don’t give her fluids 2 hours before bed. This is causing her to fall asleep later than usual. She’s also waking up about an hour earlier to use the potty and sometimes falls back to sleep but often not
    – Stephanie
    Jun 24, 2020 at 23:09
  • Maybe she is cranky because she is not getting enough sleep in total: nighttime plus daytime. Jun 24, 2020 at 23:20

Honestly, this sort of thing just happens with toddlers. They experience changes all the time where they go from acting in a certain way to suddenly acting differently. Sometimes you can point to a reason, and fix it, but sometimes it's just not explainable - something just changed in their biology that makes them act in a different way. All you can do is eliminate the obvious reasons for the behavioral change, and if it's a major issue talk to your pediatrician immediately about it (if it's not, then talk to them at the normal appointment time).

I will say that at about 3, many kids stop napping, and it's possible she's ready for this - the additional sleep in the afternoon may not be as helpful for her anymore. But this really depends on the child, and I wouldn't stop napping just because she was getting cranky during them unless I saw other signs she was ready to nap (harder to get her to nap, later bedtimes, etc.)

(It doesn't stop with toddlers, of course, but it does slow down some as they get older.)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .