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Our 2 year old (2 years 3 months) has always had a habit of getting a huge burst of energy late at night. Usually when we take him up to his room, he'll run that energy out in just a few minutes and be ready to sleep aftewards.

Lately though, he's been going hard and bolting back and forth at such speed that he's actually hurt himself running into the walls three times in the past month.

We've adjusted our schedule and sleep plan now - one of us stays in the room with him and keeps him in the bed when it's time for him to sleep - and he's back down to being asleep by 10 PM at least.

But, I've found that even when he's just in his bed, he will still stand up and start running back and forth in the small space he has to run, which can result in him falling out of the bed if I'm not attentive enough to catch him.

We've been stuck in the house for some time due to bad weather and bad health - without going into too much detail, my wife and I do not have the capability to keep up with him outside for long if at all - but we try our best to get him to spend energy indoors when we can.

Is this burst of energy late at night normal for a 2 year old? If not, is there anything we can do to reduce his night-time running habits? If it is normal, what can we do to make sure he's safe in his room at night?

Edit: I should also clarify that the modified sleep schedule, which includes us staying in the room to keep him from bolting around and reducing his nap and pushing his waking hour to an earlier time, was recommended to us by an early childhood special education teacher we regularly see with our 2-year old.

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    This sounds awfully reminiscent of my experience with my child. Things kept escalating to the point I had to stay in his room for hours until he fell asleep. Yes, small children can get energized before bed, but don't let anyone tell you that it's normal to stand guard in your child's bedroom for hours. Is he hitting all his developmental benchmarks? This might be a sign of something bigger. Dec 21, 2023 at 0:47

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Is this burst of energy late at night normal for a 2 year old?

I'm not a doctor, but since you wrote that you can't take your son outside much during the day, it sounds normal for him to have more energy at night. Children love to run around. If he gets up at night to find and use an outlet for his pent up energy, that strikes me as healthy, yes. I'd even say it's an important part of his physical development.

Doing the opposite – physically restraining him in some way ("keep[ing] him in the bed") so that he has to endure his pent up energy – sounds unhealthy, potentially to the point of driving him crazy. I would also expect his sleep quality to suffer eventually. Something's gotta give. Not only is that not in his interest, but it isn't in yours either, since he'd just be more tired and cranky during the day.

[W]hat can we do to make sure he's safe in his room at night?

You could add padding to the walls or simply lean a bunch of pillows against them. That could be extra fun if he recognizes he can jump into the pillows. Maybe a trampoline would fit in his room (they sell really small ones). Jumping is fun and requires energy. If his room is small, he could run in the hallway instead. All of this with your supervision, of course. You could softly play-wrestle with him. And so on.

You could also see if you have family members or friends who'd be willing to take him outside during the day for physical activities that he enjoys.

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  • I'd appreciate some sources cited for these opinions - not that I don't appreciate the feedback but I was hoping for something a little more certain. And I'm not sure at all about the safety of putting a trampoline in a young 2-year old's room.
    – Zibbobz
    Dec 18, 2023 at 14:36

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