Sleep from one to two years old: what to expect
Sleep for one to two year-olds is normally made up of one or two naps during the day, and a 10-12 hour sleep at night. On average, toddlers this age sleep between 11 and 14 hours in 24 hours.
At this age, your child might be overtired if they miss out on their morning or afternoon sleep. An overtired child has trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, so you want to make sure you get them into bed before they reach this point. To do this, watch for signs of tiredness.
Every child is different, but their tired signs could include:
- crying or grizzling
- demands for attention
- fussiness with food
- boredom with toys.
Transitioning from two naps to one
Between 12 and 18 months, your toddler will likely be ready to transition from two naps to one nap each day.
Watch your toddler’s behaviour around nap-time. If they go down easily for one of their naps, but the second nap of the day is generally a struggle, this is a good indication they’re ready to move to one nap per day.
The ideal time for a daytime nap is around lunchtime – but if your toddler normally starts their first nap at 10.30am, this will be hard for them. You’ll need to change your routine gradually, maybe by moving their nap time by 30 minutes every few days.
During this transition time, the one nap they have may be shorter than usual – ideally it’ll last a couple of hours, but it may initially be shorter. Give them time to adjust to their new routine. It may take a few weeks before they really settle into it.
If you’re worried your toddler’s single daytime nap isn’t long enough, or if they’re napping earlier in the day than you want them to, make sure you give them a rest or a catnap during the day. This should help get them through to bedtime without getting overtired.
A rest could involve some quiet time with books, toys, a story or music tape to keep them calm and happy.
Toddler sleep schedule and routine
Having a sleep schedule and routine will help toddlers know what to expect when it comes to nap- and bedtime, and will help them prepare for sleep.
A schedule could look like:
- 7am: wake up
- 1pm: nap 90 mins-2 hours
- 3pm: wake up
- 7pm: bedtime.
If your toddler’s nap is too late in the day, or they sleep too long, they might not be ready for bed until late at night.
If your baby wakes earlier than this, there’s not much you can do. Making their bedtime later doesn’t usually make them wake up later. They may wake up just as early, and be grumpy from not having had enough sleep.
Winding down before bed
Try these tips to make sure your baby or toddler is relaxed and ready for bed:
- avoid loud, energetic play before bedtime. This can make it harder for your child to settle
- turn off computers, tablets, phones, and the TV at least an hour before bedtime, and make sure your child doesn't watch exciting or scary shows close to bedtime
- set up a consistent bedtime routine
- check your child has everything they need before you leave the room, and remind them to quietly stay in bed.
Bedtime routine for one to year olds
A consistent bedtime routine will help get your toddler ready for sleep.
Toddlers have their deepest sleep between 8pm and midnight, so it’s good to get them into bed between 6.30 and 7pm. Most are ready for sleep by then.
You could have a bedtime routine like:
- 6.15 warm bath and into PJs and clean nappy
- 6.30pm teeth brushed
- 6.45pm story or book
- 7pm kiss goodnight and sleep time.
Often toddlers become attached to something they take to bed like a teddy or a special blanket, and these help them to feel safe, calm and relaxed for sleep. Check their loved thing is safe – that it isn’t too small and doesn’t have pieces that could be pulled off and become choking hazards. It also shouldn’t be so big that it could smother or strangle them.
It’s also a good idea to check there are no hazards on, near, or around their bed, like hanging blind cords.
If your toddler shares a bedroom with a brother or sister, you might want to try getting your toddler settled and sleeping before your other child goes to bed.
It’s normal for babies and toddlers to become harder to settle as they start feeling separation anxiety at around 18 months. They may become more clingy, and more resistant to you leaving them at bedtime. Be calm and soothing with them. Try leaving a small nightlight (a dim lamp) on in their room, and quietly popping back in to their room after they’ve first gone to bed so they know you’re still there.