Sleep patterns: What’s typical for a toddler?

What to Know

  • A typical healthy sleep schedule for a toddler
  • When and how to transition your toddler from 2 to 1 daytime naps

A healthy sleep pattern is essential for optimal growth and development in toddler-hood (ages 1-3) because this unique stage marks the notable time between infancy and preschool age children. Your toddler’s sleep needs may vary from 11-14 hours in a 24 hour period. When broken down to nighttime sleep and daytime sleep, the majority of toddlers need 10 ½-12 hours of sleep a night plus 90-120 minutes of daytime sleep or napping.

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Sleeping toddler

Here is an example of a typical 18-month-old toddler sleep schedule:

7:00 am Wake

12:30-2:30 pm Daytime nap

8:00 pm Fall asleep

Total sleep in 24 hours = 13

Your toddler should fall asleep quickly, sleep well at night, and nap appropriately for his age. If he does all of these things and functions well during the daytime, then he is probably getting enough sleep.

What to Do

Keep a sleep log for your toddler

If you are not sure whether your toddler is getting the right amount of sleep or following a typical pattern for a child his age, keep a log of his sleep. Things to note in the log include: the time your child actually falls asleep, the time your child wakes up in the morning, and the number and length of each daytime nap.

Watch for signs that your toddler might be ready to shift from 2 naps per day, to just 1 midday nap

Signs that your child is ready to transition from 2 naps to 1 may include:

  • Your baby goes down willingly for his first nap of the day, but this nap begins to lengthen beyond what it was previously. Then, he does not fall asleep easily (or at all) for his second daytime nap.
  • Your baby no longer falls asleep easily (or at all) for his first nap of the day. Instead, he begins to need one nap at about the midday mark that is as long or longer than his previous normal nap length.
  • Your baby’s nap schedule becomes irregular. He may need two regular naps for a few days, but then doesn’t fall asleep easily for one or the other naps on a different day.

It can take several days to even weeks before your toddler’s body adjusts to the new 1 midday nap schedule. He shouldn’t lose a large amount of sleep in the overall schedule, but his daytime sleep will shift to one consolidated longer stretch. Once transitioned, your child’s 1 nap should be at about the midpoint of his day with equal hours of wakefulness in the morning from the time he wakes and in the afternoon from the time he wakes from his nap to bedtime.

Sources

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