Help! My Toddler Stays Up Way Too Late

toddler stays up lateMy friends make fun of me because I go to bed around 9 p.m. every night. Well, sort of. I may doze off, but my 3-year-old is still awake and startles me by his singing, jumping, and playing. The entire house could be asleep, including my 10-year-old, and my toddler stays up late — he’s the last one to shut down.

How can he not be tired? I literally ask my husband this most nights when the clock is approaching 10 p.m., and he’s still wide awake. I don’t know what sleep experts say, but I don’t think this is normal sleep behavior for a child in preschool all day long. He does take a nap, I think, most days. That lasts until about 2:30 in the afternoon — so maybe 60-90 minutes tops on a good day. In total, he’s probably getting 9–11 hours of sleep total. That may be enough for him — he doesn’t really have tantrums or seem tired during the day.

I think pretty soon the school will eliminate the nap — he’s almost four. Will that be the difference in him going to bed at a more reasonable hour? Will that give me an hour to myself at night again? I guess we’ll see.

Here’s what we have tried:

  • Lights out as early as 8:00 p.m.
  • A bath before bed
  • Reading before bed
  • Limiting screentime before bed
  • Skipping naps on the weekend (though sometimes selfishly I want to nap)
  • Co-sleeping
  • Not co-sleeping
  • Playing a game to see who can fall asleep first — he never wins!
  • Playing white noise

The good news is that once he’s asleep, he stays asleep, and he wakes up pretty easily between 7–7:30 the next morning.

I know this too shall pass. For now, I’ll continue to lay down with my son in the hopes he’ll fall asleep first for a change.

In the meantime, how do I get him to bed sooner? What are your tried-and-true tricks?

Kerry Schicker
Boy mom. Household CEO. Corporate leader. Outdoor lover. Social seeker. Sun worshipper. Curious traveler. Champagne enthusiast. These words describe me, Kerry Schicker, and contributor for Jacksonville Mom. I first approached founders Vicky and Megan after a heartbreaking miscarriage a few years ago. I had a very unpleasant experience with my OB at the time and I needed to get it off my chest so I wrote an anonymous blog that resonated with some of our readers. I have since written dozens of blogs mostly about motherhood. I have a passion for writing. My 20-year career has grown through some form of writing including TV news reporting and producing, magazine publishing, public relations, advertising, marketing, blogging and my current day job doing HR and employee communications for a Fortune 300 FinTech company. I am thankful that Jacksonville has such a supportive community for moms like me, and I can't imagine raising my two boys anywhere else.


  1. Hate to say it but it’s the nap….he’s giving you your cue that it’s time to drop it.

    As a SAH mom I cherished nap time, but I needed the hours post-kid bedtime even more. Both my kids were done napping b/n 2.5-early 3, other than an occasional snooze in the car, and bedtimes became easier immediately. Even now at 5 and 8 they are both in bed by 8, and typically asleep shortly thereafter (they wake bn 7-7:30 am).


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