toddler starting to wake up cranky

Parenting Asked on January 4, 2022

My almost 3-year-old still naps once a day for about 1-2 hours. Lately, over the past week or so, she’s been waking up crying and super needy. Nothing has really changed within her nap routine, she lays down on her own and wakes up on her own as per usual but I don’t understand why she’s waking up crying. At first, I thought it was a nightmare, but it’s been persistently happening every day now for the past week (with the exception of car rides). I miss the days when she would wake up super happy with her bedhead hair and hugs.

I found a very similar question here, but that one seems to be more about a toddler who frequently wakes up cranky, rather than a recent phase as I am suggesting. Mods, feel free to close if these are too similar!

Have any of you all been through this? Do you have any tips on how to help her wake up in better moods?

2 Answers

Honestly, this sort of thing just happens with toddlers. They experience changes all the time where they go from acting in a certain way to suddenly acting differently. Sometimes you can point to a reason, and fix it, but sometimes it's just not explainable - something just changed in their biology that makes them act in a different way. All you can do is eliminate the obvious reasons for the behavioral change, and if it's a major issue talk to your pediatrician immediately about it (if it's not, then talk to them at the normal appointment time).

I will say that at about 3, many kids stop napping, and it's possible she's ready for this - the additional sleep in the afternoon may not be as helpful for her anymore. But this really depends on the child, and I wouldn't stop napping just because she was getting cranky during them unless I saw other signs she was ready to nap (harder to get her to nap, later bedtimes, etc.)

(It doesn't stop with toddlers, of course, but it does slow down some as they get older.)

Answered by Joe on January 4, 2022

Poor quality sleep could be the immediate cause of this behavior. Has anything changed recently that may have affected sleep? Any recent changes in room temperature, noise, light? Any changes in the diet, such as lunch? Any changes in clothing (too itchy) or laundry detergent or fabric softener? Any new scary books or TV programs? Any recent other changes to the routine, such as nighttime sleep/wake times?

Answered by Timur Shtatland on January 4, 2022

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