Grumpy After A Nap

Many little ones will be grumpy after a nap if they have not gotten enough sleep. If your child is often waking at the dreaded 45-minute mark and doing so quite unhappily, check out Good Night Sleep Site‘s strategies for how to lengthen naps. But what about babies and toddlers who are getting plenty of sleep and waking up grumpy after a nap anyway?

Tips To Help Babies & Toddlers Who Wake Up Grumpy After A Nap

These suggestions can make that transition from sleeping to wake just a little more bearable—for everyone.

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Have a snack at the ready.

While I don’t generally encourage offering food right upon waking for older babies, I tend to make an exception at nap time. For some children, having a snack upon waking curbs some of that crankiness that could be coming out of hunger after a long slumber. For others, it simply provides a welcome distraction from said crankiness. In either case, most people—little ones included—will happily accept an already-prepared nosh upon waking. Have it ready before you even get your child out of the crib so that they aren’t subjected to the additional horror of having to wait for a snack.


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Go about it gently.

For sensitive sleepers, coming out of the cocoon of their cool, dark room can be the ultimate assault to the senses. If your child wakes on her own, go into her room quietly after leaving her for a few minutes to get her bearings. Even if she is crying, sometimes just giving those few extra minutes before descending upon her can be key to easing that transition. Once you are in there, think about reading a post-nap story before bringing her out of the room. It’s another way to welcome her back to the awake world around her.

Plan around the grumpiness.

As hard as it is sometimes, I always try not to plan anything for directly after naptime. I find that the added pressure of having to get out of the house by a certain time just adds to the stressful feeling a sensitive little one feels when you enter his room, and it doesn’t make you feel too great either. So give yourself a buffer when making late afternoon plans and with it, gain some added peace of mind.

Sometimes it’s actually okay to wake.

For many children, especially ones who are good nappers, having a nap that’s just a touch too long can mean the difference between waking easily and waking like a wildebeest. Every child is different and you know yours best, but for toddlers, I find that any nap longer than 2.5 hours can send them into a very deep day sleep—and one that is all that much harder to rouse from. So consider capping your child’s nap if you see that he or she consistently struggles to wake up after a long stretch and/or that nap begins to disturb his or her ability to go down at an age-appropriate time for bed at night.

Use a lovey.

For children over the age of one, a lovey or other transitional object is not only a great tool to help them fall asleep, it also can be quite handy when they wake up. My son will often grab around for his lovey upon waking and sometimes even chooses to play around with it a bit instead of immediately crying. It’s an added source of comfort during what is sometimes an unsettling time.

All of these little things can greatly help with the nap-to-wake transition. But as always, just remember that some days will be worse than others, despite your best efforts. And take heart. It could be worse, it could be time to drop naps altogether!


Written by Good Night Sleep Site Consultant.

Good Night Sleep Site provides free child and family sleep support through FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. We invite you to join our sleep community as we work towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips, subscribe to our newsletter and visit Good Night Sleep Site

Alanna McGinn
Alanna McGinn
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Expert of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is host of the ‘This Girl Loves Sleep’ Podcast and author of ‘This Baby Loves Sleep’. Alanna has established the world-wide brand of Good Night Sleep Site as being a #1 sleep resource for families and her and her team of sleep consultants strive in helping families (baby to adults) and corporations overcome their sleep challenges and have well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and how to work with a Good Night Sleep Consultant at www.goodnightsleepsite.com and follow Alanna and all her sleep tips on Instagram - @GNSleepSite.

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Nap and Bedtime Schedules for Baby’s First Year

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