Our toddler (27 months) has been having trouble sleeping lately. He will fall asleep at 9 or 10PM, wakes up at ~6AM, and he takes a ~2 hours nap during the day).

While you would think he would be tired during the day, he's super active - literally running around in circles, constantly shouting, and generally being rowdy. His high level of energy has made parenting difficult. It's really hard to keep up with him. Unfortunately we both work - I work full time, and my SO works part time. Due to COVID, we haven't felt safe about putting him in a preschool / day care, and we don't have any other help.

Maybe this is totally normal and we just need to get through this period, but honestly, we're struggling with this. It seems like we can't live our lives, get stuff done around the house, and run errands. He frequently cries when both of us are not present, which makes this more difficult.

I'm wondering if anyone has any tips or suggestions? Or maybe some activities/games/toys he can play by himself, or that require less involvement from the parents? We have had some success with Lego Duplos, and occasionally he will watch tv, or color, but it feels like he needs 1 to 2 parents to play with him the vast majority of the time.

Regarding bedtime, we have a routine (bath, story, song), and it ends with one of us rocking him to sleep - often times this takes an hour or more. It seems like he might be scared to go into his crib, and we think this might be contributing to his reluctance to go to sleep. Open to thought and suggestions on this as well.

  • 1
    We have quite a few questions on this so please browse around the sleep and toddler tags. The good thing is: this is perfectly normal, and it will pass
    – Rory Alsop
    Oct 31, 2020 at 17:27

1 Answer 1


10-11 hours of sleep is on the light end for a 2-ish year old, but it's not that extreme; the National Sleep Foundation recommends 11-14 hours at 2 and 10-13 hours at 3, which is echoed by the American Academy of Pediatricians as well. So you're either just below or at the minimum, not far outside of the range by any means. If the child is waking up on their own, and not appearing drowsy during the day (it sounds like that's a definite no!), you're probably doing okay on actual sleep.

Do check in with your pediatrician about sleep every visit, though; we're also a family of shorter sleepers, and I probably could've written this exact question (minus COVID!) when my children were around that age. My 7 and 9 year old children get about 8 hours of sleep now, maybe 9 on the outside, and that seems to be okay for them - but we always talk about it at our pediatrician visits. They can give you tips for recognizing when your child isn't sleeping enough, as well as tips for helping you get more sleep.

Getting to sleep should, by 27 months, be something they can do by themselves, for most children. There are a few things you can do to help this along. One is, unfortunately, cutting out the nap - many children by this age don't need naps anymore, and naps can make night-time sleep harder to begin (as they're just not tired). Changing from 9pm-6am and 1pm-3pm sleep, to 7pm-6am sleep, is appropriate for some children; it was for mine, neither was napping by 2.5 years old. That doesn't necessarily help you in the long run, as you need that nap time to work I'm guessing! But keep it in mind.

As far as during the day: unfortunately, at 2, most children do need a lot of parental involvement. Unless you hand him a screen, which is definitely not an ideal solution, he's going to want to talk to you and play with you. Many of the parents I know who have children in this age range simply split their worktime right now; one parent works 9am-11am, 1pm-3pm, while one works 11am-1pm and 3pm-5pm, something like that (and longer hours if needed - maybe 7am-9am and 5pm-7pm shifts added, for example, to bring you to full time). It's hard to get both of you to 8 hours that way, but it's just how it is for a lot of people right now.

If you have a grandparent or other person who's not working and is available, you could consider having an hour or so of "zoom play", where he interacts with that person over a screen (Zoom, Facetime, Skype, whatever). Some kids can do that for extended periods; I'm not sure how feasible it is at 2, but it might be worth a try at least - every kid is different after all. If it gets you an hour here or there where both of you can work, so much the better.

Make sure you're getting outside with him as often as possible - obviously in a socially distanced, and legal, way - and getting a ton of exercise. It's not only important for his development, but it will help with sleep. When my children are indoors all day, nighttime is harder; when they're running about, it's easier. One thing I have done that worked really well was to go out front, and simply run up and down the block on the sidewalk, shortly before bedtime (say, if bedtime is 9, then at 7). Play races, chasing imaginary friends or animals, that sort of thing, can really help.

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