Normal napping patterns in almost-two-year-olds

Maybe Sleeping Beauty has nothing on Baby, and once they're asleep, there’s no waking them, kiss or no kiss. On the other hand, maybe they have 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 they are somewhere in-between, though, their sleep is one of the most important parts of their day. More than that, sleep is one of the things that can make the rest of their 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 their sleep needs will continue to drop over the next few months and years. By the time they are 3 years old, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that they 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 they need right now is probably pretty stable, even if they begin 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 they are still taking two naps a day, one in the morning, and another in the afternoon, they 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 they might start to resist naps, even if they need 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 they do 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, their sleeping habits are going to keep slowly evolving – but that doesn’t mean that every break in their 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 their mid-afternoon sleep in favor of getting all of their 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 they could be having if they wasn’t sleeping – or some separation anxiety, if they doesn’t want even their own subconscious to come between them 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 they are regressing, or that they went down to one nap too soon. Instead, it could mean that they are extra tired leading up to a growth spurt, or that they isn’t feeling well, or just that they have 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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