Normal napping patterns in almost-two-year-olds

Maybe Sleeping Beauty has nothing on Baby, and once she’s asleep, there’s no waking her, kiss or no kiss. On the other hand, maybe she has a little bit more in common with the princess from The Princess and the Pea – a light sleeper who’s woken by the tiniest thing. Whether Baby is one type of sleep-royalty or the other or she is somewhere in-between, though, her sleep is one of the most important parts of her day. More than that, sleep is one of the things that can make the rest of her day either run smoothly or collapse at the slightest mishap.

By this age, Baby is probably down to only needing about 11 to 14 hours of sleep out of every 24, and her sleep needs will continue to drop over the next few months and years. By the time she is 3 years old, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that she get 10 to 13 hours of sleep out of every 24. So while sleep needs will decrease in the future, the number of hours of sleep she needs right now is probably pretty stable, even if she begins to have more of them happen at night, and less during nap time.

Napping at almost 2

By Baby’s age, most toddlers are down to one nap a day, probably in the afternoon. This nap often lasts as long as 2 or 3 hours. If she is still taking two naps a day, one in the morning, and another in the afternoon, she could be ready to drop down to a single nap sometime soon.

It can be hard to tell when Baby is ready to drop a nap, because this is also the age when she might start to resist naps, even if she needs them. Nap resistance can be part of a sign that it’s time for reduced napping, but restless sleep at night, and short naps once she does fall asleep can be a better way to tell.

When Baby does drop down to one nap, it’s usually the morning nap, and in response, the afternoon nap may shift a little earlier, or start to last a little longer. Even when it’s really time for a napping schedule to change as Baby grows, it can take a few days to get used to the new routine enough to see how it’s working.

The exceptions that prove the rule

As Baby grows, her sleeping habits are going to keep slowly evolving – but that doesn’t mean that every break in her routine is a sign of a permanent change. It’s easy to wonder if a few days of naptime resistance mean your toddler is ready to give up her mid-afternoon sleep in favor of getting all of her rest at night, like the big kids do. In reality, though, nap resistance often happens at this age as your toddler starts to get a more acute case of FOMO (fear of missing out) – not wanting to miss out on all the fun she could be having if she wasn’t sleeping – or some separation anxiety, if she doesn’t want even her own subconscious to come between her and you. In fact, most toddlers will do best taking a nap a day up until they’re between 3 and 5 years old.

On the other end of the spectrum, if your single-napper goes back to taking a catnap in the late morning for a day or two, that doesn’t necessarily mean that she is regressing, or that she went down to one nap too soon. Instead, it could mean that she is extra tired leading up to a growth spurt, or that she isn’t feeling well, or just that she has had interrupted sleep or hasn’t been sleeping well recently, and needs to catch up.

  • Rupal Christine Gupta. “Naps.” Kids Health. The Nemours Foundation, April 2016. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Baby naps: Daytime sleep tips.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, July 9 2015. Web.
  • “Changes in Sleep with Age.” Healthy Sleep. Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, December 17 2008. Web.
  • “Infant Sleep.” Stanford Children’s. Stanford Children’s Health. Web.
  • “National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times.” Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation, February 2 2015. Web.

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