Toddlers Want To Sleep

This week I saw a little two-year-old ask her mom if she could “go nap”. She went happily to her bed, snuggled up with her blanket and favorite stuffed animal. She slept for 2 hours and woke up happy and smiling!

Our toddlers want to sleep. It feels amazing to be well-rested. 

Our children love to wake up full of energy and happy. Having enough sleep is an amazing feeling and well-rested children learn to love it.

Yes, it is possible to have a child ask for sleep. It shows the child has begun to recognize the feeling of being tired and that the solution is sleep. What a joy to have a two-year-old that asks for a nap instead of a two-year-old that screams and fights a nap or bedtime.

Dealing with life is difficult while feeling tired.

Children (and adults) become grumpy when they are tired. Toddler emotions are big and challenging for every toddler to manage. If you are the parent of a two-year-old you have seen your child throw a temper tantrum or have a “meltdown”. Those big toddler emotions are much more difficult for a tired child to control. A tired toddler is miserable and makes sure everyone knows it. Toddlers want to sleep to make them feel happy.

How do you get a well-rested child who willingly goes to bed?


The timing of sleep is very important. We all have a body clock which is set by the sun. There are times the body prepares for sleep and times the body prepares for awake time. The body prepares through chemical and temperature changes. Sleep is much easier when it is connected with the body preparation. Sleep connected with the body clock does a better job of restoring the body and brain. This sleep is more refreshing and restorative.

When sleep follows a similar schedule each day, the body begins to anticipate sleep. If you have a regular bedtime for your toddler of 7 PM; their body will begin to anticipate sleep at 7 PM. This helps the toddler be ready for sleep instead of fighting bedtime.

   2. Place

Motion sleep in the car or stroller keeps the child in light sleep. It prevents the deep, restorative sleep. Sleep is more restorative when the child is sleeping in their bed. They have the freedom to position and move their body to find what is comfortable when in their bed.

The sleep environment should contribute to sleep. I recommend a dark place for sleep because it contributes to the release of the “go to sleep” hormones. It is helpful to have white noise. The familiar sound becomes associated in their brain with sleep. Plus the white noise helps to block out other sounds which might wake your child.

  3. Process

We are all creatures of habit. We need a familiar process to prepare for sleep. It sends a message to our bodies that it is time to sleep. I encourage a specific routine before bedtime and a shorter routine prior to naps.

It is good to have a calming time prior to sleep. Don’t expect your child to go from running and jumping straight to sleeping.

Turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before sleep. The blue lights from screens wake up the brain.  The body and brain need some preparation for sleep.

4. Teach

Sleep is a skill for children to learn. Each child needs to learn to go from the awake state to the sleep state without assistance. Learning to manage their own sleep is a necessary skill for life. Your assistance to put your child to sleep is not sustainable.

Rock a child to sleep and they will sleep for an hour but teach a child to sleep and they will sleep all night.

Toddlers want to sleep. It helps them feel independent when they can go to sleep without assistance and continue their sleep through the night.

Helping Babies Sleep

Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

Infant Tummy Massage to Relieve Gas

To see the complete massage instructional video:


Alix Kron
Alix Kron
4 months ago
We cannot say enough positive things about our experience working with Arlene!! We were desperate for sleep, going almost 5.5 months with frequent wake ups, nursing back to sleep, nonstop crying during the day, screaming in the car and becoming more and more hopeless as time went on without having success … Arlene changed all of that within no time. She listened to exactly what was going on for us, developed a sleep plan specific to our daughter’s needs/our goals and was so supportive and answered all of our questions along the way. It was very easy to follow the plan that she developed and it included naps and weaning off of night feedings. We saw a difference in our daughter almost immediately! Arlene has absolutely transformed our lives and given us the ability to enjoy each other and feel so much better getting the sleep we all want and NEED! Our daughter is now sleeping 11-12 hours per night, eating only once overnight as opposed to every 1-2 hours, is on a great nap schedule and is so much happier!!! It’s the best money we’ve spent.
Adrienne G.
Adrienne G.
2 years ago
We worked with Arlene to sleep train our 22 month old son who had been bed sharing and nursing to sleep. She helped us develop a sleep plan that was specific to our son's needs. It addressed both his nighttime sleep and his naps. It really took the guess work out of the endeavor, because as a parent, even if you read all the sleep books, there are many different opinions and it is hard to know what is right. Arlene was attentive, flexible and available to answer all of our questions and concerns. I would highly recommend working with her! Our son now sleeps 11-12 hours a night and put himself to sleep on his own. Sleep training him has been a game changer for me (I sleep now too!) and for him. He seems well rested and his development seems to be progressing faster now too. His language skills are flourishing since he is getting better rest.
Amanda C
Amanda C
4 years ago
We just wrapped up our second time working with Arlene, and had another great experience! Arlene helped us sleep train our first baby a few years ago when she was 4 months old at the time. She was a terrible sleeper, waking up once every hour and needing to be rocked to sleep for what felt like hours and hours each day. I was a stressed, exhausted, and worried first time mom, and I was drawn to Arlene’s calm and experienced approach. She gave us an option for a gentler strategy that worked for us at the time, and was detailed and responsive in her sleep plan and attentiveness. Our daughter just turned 2.5 years old and is still a great sleeper. So once our second baby turned 4 months recently, we did not hesitate to work with Arlene again. We now have two rockstar sleepers in our household, thanks to Arlene! It means the world to us that she was there to help guide us, instill confidence, and most importantly, help teach our children such a valuable skill they will undoubtedly benefit from for the rest of their lives.
Begoña Cirera
Begoña Cirera
2 years ago
Arlene helped me first with my first son who was 2.5 year old when I hired her. He slept with me during breastfeeding. He never wanted to sleep in his crib. I was due with my second, and I needed better rest, and had no clue how to get him to sleep away from my bed. I even had to sleep w him during naps, or he wouldn’t sleep. I had to walk him for hours to fall asleep every night. It was awful. Two weeks after Arlene helped us create a program for him, he was done!!! He was sleeping in his own room, all night (12+ hours) and he was SO HAPPY during the day. We learned so much, and all made so much sense. After trying methods and books, nothing worked. My son is almost 6, and he falls asleep at 7:30pm every evening, until 7:00am. As a parent, you know how precious those hours are. With my second one, I didn’t make the mistake of waiting until he was two to train him to sleep. By 3 months, we slowly started, with Arlene’s help. I never had to walk him or be there for him to fall asleep. He’s now 3, and he is a great sleeper, much better than his big brother ever was, still takes 90-min naps, and sleeps 11 hours a night. Every penny I spent to hire Arlene’s expertise is worth it. My only regret was not to look for her sooner. Lifesaver, 100%.
Abbey Stidam
Abbey Stidam
6 years ago
Arlene Fryling at Gentle Touch Sleep Time helped our son sleep, which helped us sleep! We were having trouble transitioning our son (4 months at the time) from his rock-n-play to the crib and our amazing sleeper since birth was all of a sudden not sleeping very much. Arlene talked with us about what was going on with his sleep and why the change in his sleep pattern. She answered all our questions and calmed our worries and frustrations. She came up with a sleep plan that worked for our family. She guided us every step of the way. He is now an amazing sleeper again! He is 18 months old and sleeps 12 hours at night and takes a 1 1/2 - 2 hour nap. He loves to sleep and never fights sleeping. I am so thankful we had Arlene Fryling help us and we were able to teach our son to sleep.