Here’s a sample 3 year old schedule for your child. Whether they nap or not, we have sample schedules for your growing toddler.

Mom and three year old during scheduled play

If you’re wondering how to create the optimal three-year-old schedule and ensure that your child is still getting the rest they need, I’m here to help.

Your three year old may be protesting nap, starting preschool, or even be in a big kid bed.

All these changes can lead to sleep disruptions.

Let’s talk about how to keep your 3 year old’s schedule on track.

Want a way to incentivize your toddler or preschooler to stay in their bed all night long? Download my free reward chart to help your toddler stay motivated. Get the free chart here
Three year old brushing teeth during morning routine

How Many Naps Should a 3-Year-Old Take?

Many 3-year-olds can still benefit from one daily nap for a midday recharge or reset.

Three-year-olds are capable of staying awake for 6 or more hours at a time. Some can even make it a full 12 hours between when they wake up in the morning and when they go to bed at night.

However, if you notice that your toddler is consistently melting down in the evening hours before bedtime, that’s your sign that they’re not ready to forego a nap altogether just yet.

Pay close attention to how your toddler is acting before bedtime.

Are they fussy, loopy, or having trouble controlling their bodies and emotions? If so, they’re probably overtired from a day that feels too long for them.

An overtired toddler is a struggle to get down for bed! Taming your toddler’s bedtime tantrums is tricky, but it can be done.

If your three-year-old is fighting the only nap in their schedule, make sure you’re not trying to put them down for their nap too early.

Try not to start nap time until it’s been at least six hours since your toddler woke up for the day.

Wondering when kids stop napping altogether? I try to encourage parents to hang onto it until closer to the 4 year old schedule.

When Should a 3-Year-Old Go to Bed?

I recommend that you put your toddler down to sleep about 11 to 12 hours after they’ve woken up for the day.

If your 3-year-old’s schedule still involves a midday nap, they will be ready for bed about 5-6 hours after they’ve woken up from their nap.

Keep in mind that your 3-year-old should be getting between 10-12 hours of sleep at night, depending on how much day sleep they still get.

3 year old sleep schedule

What is a Good Routine for a 3-Year-Old?

Here’s an example of a 3-year-old schedule with an afternoon nap included:

7:00 am — Wake Up

7:15 am — Breakfast

9:30 am — Snack

12:30 pm — Lunch

1:00-2:00/2:30 pm — Nap

2:30/3:00 pm — Snack

5:30 pm — Dinner

7:30/8:00 pm — Bedtime

What to Do When your 3 Year Old Won’t Nap

There are bound to be days when your 3-year-old simply refuses to fall asleep during nap time. Or maybe you have to skip nap time due to an important appointment.

Don’t fret!

On the off days when your three-year-old’s schedule doesn’t include a nap, you can move their bed time up 30-60 minutes.

That way, you can ensure that they are still getting all the hours of sleep they need for the day to wake up well-rested and ready to go again in the morning!

When is It Time to Drop the Nap?

It’s probably time to drop or condense the nap if you’re seeing these signs:

  • Your child’s nap keeps getting later and starts to interfere with bedtime
  • Your 3 year old starts fighting bedtime and taking too long to fall asleep at night
  • Your child starts having split nights and middle of the night wake ups
  • Your toddler starts waking up too early in the morning

Watch for a consistent pattern or struggle over the course of several days before you make a big change.

3 Year Old Schedule with No Nap

If your 3-year-old has kicked naps to the curb for good, it may be time to consider introducing quiet time.

While it’s never too late to introduce quiet time, it’s better if you can introduce it right as your little one is dropping their nap. That way, space is still held in the day for a midday reset, whether it’s a nap or quiet time.

If your toddler drops their nap and that time gets filled by an activity (like dance class or playdates), it might be harder to introduce a quiet time routine.

But don’t worry, it’s still possible (especially with our favorite quiet time toys!)

Example 3-year-old schedule with quiet time instead of nap:

7:00 am — Wake Up

7:15 am — Breakfast

9:30 am — Snack

12:30 pm — Lunch

1:00-2:00 pm — Quiet Time

2:30/3:00 pm — Snack

5:30 pm — Dinner

7:00 pm — Bedtime

two toddler girls playing together

Tips for Keeping a Consistent 3-Year-Old Routine

It’s a toddler’s job to push boundaries, so your 3 year old is probably really good at stalling bedtime, waking up early, and delaying nap time.

Here are some tips to keep your 3-year-old’s schedule consistent:

Make a Visual Schedule

Uncertainty is hard for toddlers, especially when they feel they have so little control over their day.

Posting a visual schedule with pictures somewhere in the house will help them know what to expect next, and makes transitions easier.

You can get different visual schedules online. This one is editable and so cute!

Your child can also help make and color the visual schedule!

Give your 3-Year-Old Some Control

It’s not uncommon to experience a sleep regression at 3 years old. This is usually more about behavior and boundaries then it is about sleep.

Giving your toddler some control may help.

While nap time and bedtime may not be up for discussion, you could let your toddler decide things like whether they want to use the potty or brush their teeth first. Or let them choose if they’ll wear the red or blue pajamas.

Keep the Bed Time, Nap Time, and Morning Routines Consistent

Toddlers rely so much on familiar cues to help them transition between activities and to sleep, so keep your routines consistent.

Many parents focus a lot on bedtime routine, but morning routines for your 3-year-old also play an extra important role in setting the tone for the day.

Use an Okay to Wake Clock

Three year old’s have very little concept of time.

If they wake up in the middle of nap time or the night, they have no idea that it’s way too early to be awake.

Use an okay to wake clock such as The Hatch Rest, Rest Plus, or Little Hippo Mella to give your child a visual of when it’s time to stay in bed and when it’s time to wake up.

See the differences between the Hatch Rest vs Rest Plus here.

Three year old napping during their daily schedule

How to Handle Your 3-Year-Old’s Preschool Daily Schedule

Many three-year-old’s schedules include preschool or childcare of some kind. If your little one is enrolled in a program, you’re probably wondering how to handle their routine based on whether it’s a school day or not.

I recommend you do your best to mirror a similar schedule at home as they have at school.

If you know that your three-year-old’s schedule at preschool includes nap time, try to stick with that same nap time at home. It will be easier to keep a routine on non-school days if nap time is still around the same time each day.

Toddlers thrive on consistency, and their bodies naturally adapt to the daily rhythm if it’s consistent across most days.

Some preschools require lengthy naps, which can be challenging if your child starts to get too much sleep.

If that’s the case, you may have to push bedtime later. There’s only so many hours a 3-year old can sleep in a 24-hour period.

Three years old can be a challenging phase (Hello threenager!), but optimizing your little one’s sleep and daily schedule can really help you create structured routines that allow your three year old to thrive!

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If you have any questions about your 3 year old’s schedule, leave them in the comments below.

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