A mom writes in asking for advice: She has a “wild” and “misbehaved” 3-year-old who won’t go down to sleep before 3 a.m. most nights. She has tried everything with little success. Certain friends and family members have suggested she have him screened for ADHD and potentially put on medication. What should she do?
Over on the Mamas Uncut Facebook page, our robust community of moms is always having a conversation about topics that matter. We like to highlight those conversations from time to time. Important mom questions. Thoughtful mom answers. Let’s hear from the community!
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A member of the community asks:
What time should a 3-year-old go to bed every night?
Mine has days he will not go to sleep until 3 a.m. I take his toys and TV, and leave only his night light. I lay with him then try to lay him down. He fights it so bad. I really don’t want to give my kid meds this young, but I’m at a loss.
He’s so energetic and misbehaved. I try to get eye-level, I’ve tried time out, and as a last resort, spanking. I know toddlers are wild, but he’s so bad people are saying things like “Maybe he needs to be seen for ADHD like you have.”
He’s so young. Help???– Mamas Uncut Community Member
Let’s see what the community had to say.
On When 3-Year-Olds Typically Go to Bed
“My 3-year-old stopped taking naps and goes to bed anywhere between 8:30 and 9:30. Sleeps until 8 – 9:30 a.m.”
“My 3-year-old goes to bed between 8 and 9 p.m.”
“Up until he is in a set routine, he will not sleep by bedtime. Suitable bedtime would be between 7 and 9 p.m. Best of luck.”
Sleep Solutions to Consider for a 3-Year-Old
“Use melatonin. It’s a lifesaver!!!”
“Start the bedtime routine at about 6 p.m. Warm bath, lavender lotion, warm milk, and a bedtime story. Melatonin is a great idea also.”
“Before meds, try a lavender oil diffuser. A drop of lavender oil in bath water or bath lotion. Or lavender oil on pajamas, pillows cases, and sheets. I drop about 6 drops on a dry wool ball and toss sheets/teddy in the dryer for a few minutes. It’s a stress reliever and a peaceful, calm essential oil. Stick to a nighttime routine.”
“What time does he wake up in the morning? It could be he’s sleeping in too late. Have you tried maybe taking him to the park for a few hours and a bath in the evenings?”
“You need to wear him out during the day. Then set up an age-appropriate and fun obstacle course after dinner to wear him out even more. A weighted blanket can be beneficial too, Google them. Pay attention to his diet. He could need to stay away from sugar and high fructose corn syrup. My mother said when I was little if I had strawberries or strawberry jelly I was insanely active and would not sleep. Keep a food diary, make a doctor appointment, and go over the food diary with his pediatrician. Have a blood test done and see if he is deficient in anything. No juice, just water, etc. Explore all options. Melatonin is okay at three as well. Good luck.”
Try Adjusting Your 3-Year-Old’s Sleep and Nap Schedules
“I would wake him up earlier and let him nap, but not any time after 3 p.m. Wear him out and he should fall asleep by 9. Do that every day or as much as you can until he gets used to the new routine.”
On a Possible ADHD Diagnosis in a Toddler
“They wouldn’t even diagnose my oldest son with ADHD until he was school-age. He had the worst time falling asleep at night and had horrible night terrors if he fell asleep too hard or fast. My advice is to put him on a strict schedule and routine and try to stick to it as much as possible. Wake up time, breakfast, play, etc., all the way to bath and bedtime. Keep them at the same time. I know it can be hard, but it worked for ours. We actually cut naps out at 3 years old to help him be more ready for bedtime at bedtime.”
“If you have ADHD, it can be genetic, I believe. It’s worth going to the doctor if you’re struggling this bad. Also, spanking your child who’s acting this way because his brain may be wired differently and he can’t control it, makes no logical sense whatsoever. Please go to your doctor and don’t rely on a FB mama’s group for something like this.”
A lot of good advice to consider from the community. We think all of it is worth a try, but we’d recommend consulting a doctor before doing anything other than adjusting routine and trying to run his energy down throughout the day with activities. A doctor will be be able to give you more information about the best course of action, whether it’s melatonin, diet changes, or potentially something like ADHD.
We wish you the best of luck, mama!
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