Help A Reader Out: Toddler Crying Before Naps

Hello readers! Please share any experience/insight you have with this situation:

Sum said…

Hi Val – I scanned all of these questions/comments and even the link to Reader Nap Questions, but they all seem to be for babies much younger than mine, so I have to ask my question (sorry in advance for the length) – desperately hoping you can help!

My almost-17mo old (take note–child is now almost 18 months old) son has generally been a great night sleeper. He still cries for 2-5 min when I put him down at night but he does not cry at all when my husband puts him down (though we use the same routine) so we chalk it up to him just liking me better 🙂 and having a harder time separating. Either way, he falls asleep on his own and sleeps all night.

Naptime has never been so easy. He has always been a champion fighter in this case. (Currently at one nap per day – dropped morning nap a few months back, so it’s not a dropping issue). Sometimes he has stretches or days where he’ll go down without a fight, but it is regular for him to have days where he will cry for awhile before falling asleep. Until 2-3 weeks ago, he would eventually fall asleep, though sometimes after 30+min of crying. Now he has been crying for an entire hour with very little breaks. I am almost 100% sure it is not teething/sickness or anything else – he is totally normal at all other times of the day and at night. So I just let him cry for that hour because I want to keep the principle of naptime and parent-direction sacred. I have to let you know that I work and so our nanny puts him down 4 days a week – but I have told her the rules and she says she abides by them (although the angst of working outside the home is that you never really know if that’s what’s going on – I really hope that lack of consistency is not what’s causing this!).

Anyway, I guess my main questions are – why do I still have a crier?! Is there any chance that he just doesn’t need a nap anymore? Am i being too hard on him to let him cry that hour and then just give up on the nap? Today we tried putting books in his crib so he’d have something to do besides cry, and he’s still in there screaming… any ideas? THANK YOU for taking the time to answer – I LOVE your blog and appreciate all the time you put into it to help us moms out here!!

Plowmanators said…


Yes, he still needs a nap FOR SURE, so that isn’t it.

You know, there are so many angles here I am thinking this might be a good “help a reader out question.” I don’t have experience with this age group crying before naps, and experience counts for a lot. Would you be okay with me posting this as a question to see if a reader has ideas for you?

Sum said…

Hey Val – Sorry I just saw your response! I had been checking back regularly but skipped a couple weeks with the Thanksgiving craziness. Yes, I would love for you to share my question with your audience – feel free to paraphrase my ramblings as needed :). A month after my original comment we’re still dealing with lots of crying at naptime (but perfection at night, which I am thankful for). Also – fyi, I had a talk with our nanny and she really seems to be consistent in letting him CIO for the nap (plus my husband has been home a lot lately and can vouch for it). Thanks!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it 1-5!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

8 thoughts on “Help A Reader Out: Toddler Crying Before Naps”

  1. Hi there,There's a good link on the Chronicles group about sleep problems at around 18 months. It seems that it's a very common time for sleep disruptions. The article describes it as the "mother of all developmental transitions. Also, I don't know if you follow "The Wonder Weeks", but they suggest there is a final developmental leap at that stage, which impacts sleep, mood, etc. because the baby's learning so much about their environment. Here's the link: Hope this helps, and hang in there!

  2. In additiona to what pp said, I know some people whose kids have cried before naps up until 2 or even 3 years. It is no fun, but don't feel like you are alone with this. It probably has a lot to do with stuff you can't change.

  3. even though your child dropped the morning nap, is it possible the afternoon nap needs to be moved up a bit? Perhaps he is overtired? This is what we needed to do with my 2 year old and ever since we did, she has stopped crying when I put her down. good luck!

  4. Mine also started crying for naps at this age…i don't know if he was scared or just fighting it. I agree with moving nap up to 30 minutes or so to avoid being overtired. just keep up the consistency of the routine and your child will learn to love naps again. Mine is now 2.5 and napping even longer… 3 hours sometimes.

  5. My 19 month old has been doing the same thing the past month…only she only cries for 5-10 minutes. I personally think it's that she just enjoys being up and playing so much that she's afraid she'll miss something. Her understanding has developed so much and I can tell she is getting clever and learning how to assert herself. I'm just sticking to my routine and I'm hoping she'll stop with the protests eventually.

  6. thanks for the comments so far (would love more too!) – i tend to agree that it's more of the 'fear of missing out' than anything else, but i will keep an eye on not letting him get over-tired as well.

  7. My 21 month old has started this recently. I took to comforting him and connecting. I try to give voice to his emotion. I say "you're sad because you can't play with mommy and daddy anymore" and he says "yes" and I tell him that it's ok to be sad and to be disappointed and I apologize that he's feeling sad and disappointed. I give him lots of hugs and kisses and tell him he needs to rest in order to play later. I end it all again with "it's ok to cry if you're sad" … prior to doing this, he cried much longer, now he only cries for a very short time.When I hit the nail on the head – for example my hubby was out of town for 8 days and it dawned on me that maybe he misses his dad. I talked to him about those emotions and validated them … he stopped crying entirely at that point. Then he reintroduced the crying again later.Prior to this he wasn't crying at all before sleeping.


Leave a Comment