Sleep from 19 to 24 months

You and Baby are wily veterans of the sleep game, with the two of you working on bedtime for going on two whole years now. By this point, you’ve probably started to get into a bit of a groove. But while the twos aren’t always terrible, they can bring changes, and sometimes these changes won’t wait until their second birthday to get started.

When and how will Baby sleep during this time?

Most toddlers this age need 11 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle. As many as 1 to 3 hours of this sleep may happen during the day, in one or two naps. It’s around this time that many toddlers transition from two naps down to one, but there are plenty of tots who do best holding on to both naps for a while longer. There are even one or two who are ready to stop napping completely, although not nearly as many as there are toddlers who think they’re ready.

Sleep complications around this age

Around this age, many toddlers show that they’re ready to cut down on their time spent napping by resisting going down to sleep when naptime comes around. This can be a normal part of dropping down from two naps a day to one, but it can also mean some resistance to bedtime in general. Sometimes, resistance to bedtime or naptime is a sign that they have grown out of the need for a daytime nap, but at other times, it can just mean that they don't want to go to sleep yet – whether they need to or not. Between their growing independence, their great big feelings, and their curiosity about the world, your tot may not be as happy to stop playing and exploring when it’s time for bed.

Resistance to sleep when it’s a protest against the unfairness of cutting playtime short is exactly when having a strong bedtime routine in place can help your family out. Playtime is great, but if your toddler has a favorite story they like to read at bedtime, or they have a lot of fun in the bath, it can be a little bit easier to transition towards bed. Having a bedtime routine that feels more like getting the chance to do something (like snuggling in bed and reading a story or singing a song), instead of having to stop doing something (like running around the house in their Halloween costume) is a sneaky way of funneling them towards lower-energy activities that can help them transition towards bedtime. If they are resisting sleep, though, there’s a good chance that they will need a little extra time to wind down, so starting the bedtime routine a little early can help to keep everything on-track.

If your family does end up dropping down to one nap during this time, pushing that one surviving nap as near to the middle of the day as you can may help to keep any sleep meltdowns from happening. This nap may also stretch out to a little longer than it was to make up for the lost sleep – naps ranging from 1 to 3 hours long aren’t uncommon. On the other hand, many toddlers still benefit from two naps a day, and while that can make scheduling your day a little more difficult, having a better-rested toddlers on your hands can definitely help balance out that difficulty.

  • Rupal Christine Gupta. “Naps.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, April 2016. Web.
  • National Sleep Foundation. “National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times.” Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation, February 2 2015. Web.
  • M. Weissbluth. “Naps in children: 6 months-7years.” Sleep. 18(2): 82-7. Web. February 1995.
  • “Infant Sleep.” Stanford Children’s Health. Stanford Children’s Health, 2017. Web.
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