My son will be 2 in a few weeks. For about 90% of what goes on in his life, he's had a really good schedule that Mama has laid down and enforced quite well.

His normal bedtime has always started at 7:30pm, to which we would clean him, lay him down, read a book, tuck him in, leave the room and lights out, and then he'd be asleep in around 10-15 minutes. Sometimes he'd cry a little bit, and be up until 8ish, but still asleep within an hour of bedtime.

For the last week or so, he has not fallen asleep until 10pm. We can see physical exhaustion on him, but he will just not give in to sleep. Nothing has changed in his schedule that my wife can tell me, so it is not as if he is not taking his nap, or not getting play time to wear him out.

Any ideas on what may be happening?

  • It would be helpful if you post your nap routine, if he has a nap. It may be that you need to move the start of the nap or start limiting the length of the nap. As far as I understand, as kids approach nap transitions (and going from 1 nap to no naps is still a nap transition), naps and bedtime may need to shift.
    – justkt
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


Welcome to the site JHStarner! Let me start with a reassurance that it is pretty normal for kids to have huge changes to their sleep from time to time. My daughter just went through one herself.

Turning Two is a Big Deal developmentally and changes in growth (even the kind you can't see) can disrupt a lot of things. I'm guessing this change for your son has to do with a developmental leap he is making.

If I am right, he is realizing he has some power to make decisions and change his circumstances a little and he is testing those abilities - not necessarily in defiance of you, just - in defiance of sleep in general. He is also probably in the process of discovering that the world doesn't just stop moving forward because he fell asleep. This realization leaves a lot of kids feeling "left out." Because they think they are missing out on something super cool while they sleep.

Of course, it is also possible he is getting aches from a growth spurt about to happen, or just having trouble falling asleep. You probably have a good sense of this based on your own observations, but, even though he is two and is probably not highly communicative yet, you could actually ask him. You might try something like, "(insert name here), I'm really worried you aren't getting enough sleep. Do you know why you aren't falling asleep at night?"

In any case, I suggest doing your best to maintain your usual routine with him (I assume you have a calming routine you use, if not, start one tonight. This question's answers will have some ideas for you), but also to talk to him about sleep. Take advantage of the next time he is upset about something to say, "hmm. do you think getting more sleep might help you feel better right now?" He won't likely answer you with anything other than an emphatic "no" but you are planting a seed of thought, not disciplining. Express your concern for him over his not sleeping. Continue to reinforce "lights out" and bedtime without a lot of fuss or emotion.

It also may help to do your best to make sure he isn't missing out on anything cool. Give him some time to fall asleep before you start the "adult movie" hold off on evening guests for awhile while you get through this transition and be as silent as possible during his "fall asleep time." Older siblings (if he has them) can use this time for reading or study.

Good Luck!

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