3 year old sleep schedule: bedtime and nap schedule

Updated Nov 29, 2022
3 year old sleep schedule

As your toddler becomes a preschooler, you’ll likely face some big sleep transitions. This is the age when many children give up their last nap, transition out of the crib, and say goodbye to their beloved pacifier — if they haven’t already. Those can be big adjustments for young kids (and their parents)! Fortunately, following an age-appropriate sleep schedule can help ensure these changes go as smoothly as possible.

Editor’s note

The recommendations listed below represent the average amount of sleep typically needed at this age. However, please note there is a range of normal as some children have lower or higher sleep needs. Your child’s schedule may vary, and that is normal.


IN THIS ARTICLE

How much should a 3 year old sleep?

Sample 3 year old sleep schedule

3 year old nap schedule

Bedtime for a 3 year old

Can you sleep train a 3 year old?

3 year old FAQ


The ideal amount of sleep for children at various ages is a widely debated topic. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 10 - 13 hours of sleep in a 24-hr period for 3 - 5 year olds. At Huckleberry, we typically recommend aiming for at least 11.5 hours of total sleep for your 3 year old, but encourage parents to also focus on other indicators (such as your child’s mood and whether they appear well rested) to determine if your child is getting enough sleep.

A graphic table that lists a sample 3 year old sleep schedule.

Note: Sleep needs vary by child and this chart should be viewed as an example.

Naps can vary quite a bit at this age. We see some children continuing to nap regularly, some who are in the midst of transitioning away from the nap, and others who’ve dropped it entirely.  

For kids that are still napping, it’s common to see 1 - 1.5 hours of sleep at naptime. Naps that are longer than 90 minutes can often result in night sleep that’s too short. If your child is sleeping less than 10 hours at night consider shortening, or transitioning away from, the nap. You may wonder what age should kids stop napping, there’s no hard and fast rule, and some children require a short nap for a little longer, occasionally until the age of 5. Others will be ready to drop their last nap here.

Morning rise6:30 AM
Nap 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM (1.5 hour nap); 6 hours of being awake before nap
Get ready for bed7:45 PM
Asleep8:30 PM; 6.5 hours of being awake before bedtime

Note: Sleep needs vary by child and this chart should be viewed as an example.

Morning rise6:30 AM
Rest time12:30 PM - 1:30 PM; 1 hour of quiet time
Get ready for bed6:15 PM
Asleep7:00 PM

Note: Sleep needs vary by child and this chart should be viewed as an example.

For children who no longer nap in the middle of the day, we highly recommend scheduling an official “rest time” after lunch. Establishing the designated quiet time in their bedroom (or former napping area) can give your little one a chance to decompress even if they’re not tired enough to actually sleep. Every once in a while they might surprise you by actually taking a nap. Either way, it can be a sanity saver for you too. It will also help if you ever choose to put your toddler in daycare. The schedule will help your little one with what to expect!

If your kiddo is resistant to staying in their room alone, you’re not alone. Try spending 10 minutes of 1-on-1 time together in the room, just as you used to do during their naptime routine. Then offer some special calm activities (such as books, puzzles, or toys) that are reserved only for rest time. This can help make it more enticing to rest and recharge.

You can read more about dropping the last nap here

Children who still nap at 36 months and older will typically have a later bedtime: often between 8:00 - 9:00 PM. Preschoolers need more awake time before their nap and bedtime (usually 6 - 6.5 hours), which can push bedtime uncomfortably late for many families. 

Once your child’s bedtime starts creeping later than 9:00 PM, consider shortening or dropping the nap. Unless your child also wakes later in the morning (i.e., after 7:00 AM), a bedtime after 9:00 PM typically doesn’t allow for enough night's sleep. This can lead to insufficient sleep for your kid and inadequate downtime for you.  

Once your preschool-aged child drops the nap, expect bedtime to shift earlier. You’ll want to give your child the opportunity to sleep for at least 11.5 hours at night, which means that bedtime often falls between 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM. 

Sure! If your preschooler has a sleep-onset association at bedtime (i.e., needs your help and/or presence to fall asleep), you can help them learn to fall asleep without you in the room. Sleep training an older child may look a bit different than sleep training a baby, but the goal is the same: to improve sleep by changing bedtime habits.

There’s one caveat when it comes to sleep training at this age. While it’s never too late to establish healthy sleep routines at bedtime, naptime is a bit different. Preschoolers will often drop their nap prematurely during sleep training rather than adapt to a new way of falling asleep during the day. That’s why we often recommend only sleep training at night at this age.

3 year old FAQ

Q: Is there a 3 year old sleep regression?

A:

While sleep can regress at any point due to a variety of factors, we don’t typically see a developmental regression at this age. However, it is common to drop a nap and/or transition to a big kid bed around 36 months of age. These changes can lead to new sleep challenges.

Q: What time should a 3 year old go to bed?

A:

Preschool-aged children who still nap should target a bedtime that’s 6 - 6.5 hours after their nap, which often means bedtime is between 8:00 - 9:00 PM. Kids who have stopped napping will need an earlier bedtime that allows for at least 11.5 hours of sleep. For example, if your child wakes at 6:00 AM, you’ll likely want to aim for a 6:30 PM bedtime.

Q: How much sleep does a 3 year old need?

A:

We recommend aiming for at least 11.5 hours of total sleep in a 24-hr period. However, individual sleep needs do vary. Be guided by your child’s mood and energy levels when determining whether your preschool-aged child is sleeping enough.

Q: When does a 3 year old stop napping?

A:

Some children stop napping before 36 months old, however, most children aren’t ready to comfortably transition to a no nap schedule until 3 - 5 years of age. You can read more about the right age to stop napping here.

Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.