Sleep overview: 12 to 18 months

As pretty as Baby’s sleeping face is, she’s probably still no Sleeping Beauty – she can probably wake up without a kiss, for example. She probably isn’t up for a nap that lasts for quite a hundred years, either, but she’s still probably getting better and better at sleeping for longer stretches of time. Just don’t let her get too close to any enchanted spinning wheels, and she’ll be fine.

Sleep at night

Most children around this age need around 11 to 14 hours of sleep out of every 24, and since naps around this time often end up being around 2 hours altogether, that might mean that nighttime sleep lasts anywhere from 9 to 12 hours, although toddlers who take shorter or fewer naps might make up for the time at night.

These 6 months generally see a toddler go through at least one growth spurt. Growth spurts can lead to toddlers sleeping more for a while, but can also cause sleep disruptions like waking up during the night, even in toddlers who generally sleep through the night pretty comfortably. Sleep changes that happen surrounding growth spurts aren’t anything to worry about, and aren’t a sign of a permanent change in sleep patterns. Sleep disruption that comes with other symptoms, like fever, probably aren’t related to growth spurts.

At this age, some children still wake in the night for a feeding, but the more teeth a toddler has, the more important it becomes that she not fall asleep with the sugars from milk or formula pooling around her teeth. It’s also the time when the pressure bottles and pacifiers put on the teeth can begin to cause problems, so it’s a good time to start slowly phasing out bottles, pacifiers, and feedings that aren’t followed by a quick tooth-brushing.

Napping

Toddlers around this age usually do best with two naps a day, although some still take three, and around the end of this 6-month stretch, many toddlers are ready to drop down to just one nap. The transition from two naps down to one often works best when you start by shifting your toddler’s first nap of the day a little later, and then a little later still, until it’s moved into the early afternoon, and the second nap of the day is phased out. On the other hand, some children drop a nap on their own.

The napping trajectory doesn’t always move in a straight line, though, and toddlers who have dropped a nap may still occasionally slip back into an old pattern on days when they’re sick, when they haven’t been sleeping well, or are going through a growth spurt or learning a big new skill.


Sources
  • National Sleep Foundation. “National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times.” Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation, February 2 2015. Web.
  • Robert Sears. “How Much Sleep Should My 13-Month-Old Get?” Ask Dr. Sears. AskDrSears, 2016. Web.
  • M. Weissbluth. “Naps in children: 6 months-7 years.” Sleep. 18(2): 82-7. Web. February 1995.
  • “Infant Sleep.” Stanford Children’s. Stanford Children’s Health, 2016. Web.

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