Sleep in Toddlers (1 - 3 years)
Sleep in Toddlers
(1 -3 years)
What can I expect from my toddler?
• On average, toddlers sleep between 11 and 13 hours out of the 24 hour day.
• By 18 months, most toddlers give up their morning nap and sleep for 1 ½ to 3 hours in the afternoon.
• Some toddlers take 2 shorter naps per day until they are about 21 months old.
• Most toddlers settle into a routine that is normal for them. Your child may sleep more or less each day than his friend of the same age.
What are some causes of sleep problems in toddlers?
• Sickness, changes in routines and household stress can disrupt a child’s sleep.
• Separation anxiety may cause trouble at bed time.
• Changing from a crib to a bed before your child is ready may also cause sleep trouble. It is usually best to wait until your child is close to 3 years old to switch to a bed.
• All children naturally wake during the night. A toddler who has not learned to fall asleep on his own will have trouble going back to sleep.
How can I help my toddler learn to sleep well?
• Set up a daily sleep plan: Include a set bedtime, wake time and naptime. It is usually best to set an early bedtime (before 9 p.m.) to help your child prepare for preschool and kindergarten.
• Avoid cutting back on naps: This rarely leads to longer night time sleep and may leave you with an overtired, fussy toddler.
• Help your toddler attach to a “security object”: A blanket or stuffed animal may help her relax at bedtime and during the night.
• Follow a bedtime routine: Include calm activities like a bath and bedtime story. Avoid TV and computers as watching video can make it harder to fall asleep. If the last activity like the bedtime story takes place where your child sleeps, “lights out” time will happen naturally.
• Plan your child’s bedroom surroundings: Keep the room lighting and temperature the same at bedtime as it will be during the night. Toddlers sleep best in a cool, quiet room. Some toddlers like to have a night-light. Leave electronics like TV and gaming systems out of your child’s bedroom.
• Put your toddler to bed sleepy, but awake: This helps him learn to fall back to sleep on his own when he wakes at night.
• Set limits: It is natural for toddlers to test and stall at bedtime. Be sure to set clear limits ahead of time. For example, decide on a routine number of books to read each night.
When should I call the doctor?
• Your child seems to have trouble breathing, is snoring or is a noisy breather.
• You are concerned about your child’s nighttime waking or nighttime fears.
• You are worried that your child’s sleep problems are affecting her behavior during the day.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 04/10/2012
Copyright © 04/10/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7344
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