Characteristics of Toddler Sleep

Once your baby has passed his first birthday, you’ve entered the toddler range. If he isn’t already, he’ll soon start walking, talking, and experiencing the world in entirely new and different ways. His sleep patterns usually won’t change drastically. As he gets closer to two years in age, he may sleep about an hour less than he did as a baby, or he may sleep just as long. Either is perfectly normal, and nothing to concern yourself about. Typical toddlers in the 12 to 24 months age range sleep between 9 and 15 hours per night. It can vary greatly from one child to the next, and as long as they fall within this range, you have nothing to worry about. If your toddler typically sleeps less than 9 hours a day (including naps) or more than 15 hours per day, consult your pediatrician or family care doctor for advice.

Your toddler may continue to take two naps, or she may drop one of the naps and just take one longer one. Naps may vary from 20 minutes to 4 hours in duration. She typically will be able to sleep through the night, though it isn’t unusual for toddlers to wake once or twice per night and need some comforting to go back to sleep. It is best to leave her in her crib during these times, if you can, and simply rub her back, speak or sing soothingly to her, and help her relax.

Often if your baby’s crib has been in your room, this is a good time to give him his own room. Don’t be surprised, though, if you need to stay in the room with him until he falls asleep. This isn’t unusual, especially if the room is new to the toddler. By two years of age, your toddler should be sleeping in his own room (or a room shared by siblings) if at all possible.

At this stage in your child’s life, the more you can use routines at bedtime, the smoother bedtime is likely to be. Don’t be surprised if your toddler occasionally fights you on bedtime. That’s normal. Be gentle and firm, tending to his needs, but allowing him to soothe himself at times if he needs to. Expect your child to try to stretch his boundaries at this stage in his life, especially as he begins to learn more words and can express his wants more clearly. Expect him to ask for another story, another snack, and just about anything else to put bedtime off just a little bit more. Make up your mind ahead of time where the limits are and gently but firmly stick to them. Though your toddler may fight you or cry, you are starting to reinforce that there are limits, a concept that will be of great importance as your child grows older.