Sleep overview: 18 to 24 months

Whether you’re measuring in the hours they sleep during the night or their shoe size, which is probably quickly outpacing their age, the signs that Baby is growing up are everywhere. During these months, they may shift towards getting a bit more of their sleep during the night, like the big kids do, and a little less of it during naptime, though naps will probably stay a part of their life for at least another year. This transition isn’t always seamless, but it’s an important step on the journey towards independent, night-long sleep that gives your little one all the rest that they need to make it through the day.

Sleep at night

In the second half of the second year, toddlers still generally need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep out of every 24 hours, but there’s a good chance that more and more of this sleep is happening at night, and less of it is in the form of daytime naps. Naps might cover 1 to 3 hours of sleep, and most toddlers sleep at least 10 hours a night. In most children, sleep patterns adjust, but general trends about their individual sleep are fairly stable – if your tot has always slept like a brick, for example, their sleep patterns will probably still err on the longer side of normal, while toddlers who have always been light sleepers, and needed less sleep, even from infancy, probably will keep on sleeping lightly and less often than their longer-sleeping peers.


Suspense, adventure, bloodcurdling shrieks – during the second half of the second year, naptime can have all of the excitement of seeing a thriller on the big screen, and a whole lot less of the quiet comfort of naptime images like counting sheep or visions of sugarplums.

Toddlers in the age range still may be getting as much as 1 to 3 hours of sleep from naps, but it’s often during this time that they start to resist lying down to get some rest, whether that’s at naptime or when it’s time to get ready for bed at the end of the day. Most toddlers are so active and full of energy that it can be tempting to think that they resist naps because they don’t need them anymore, but in many cases, toddlers will resist naptime whether they need it or not, leaving it up to their parents to look for clues about whether they’re ready to graduate to a schedule with one fewer nap in it.

Signs that a toddler might be ready to drop a nap include:

  • They doesn’t just resist taking a nap, but actually has trouble falling asleep at naptime
  • They seem happy and normal for the rest of the day if they miss a nap (if they isn’t ready to drop a nap, they may seem moody, easily frustrated, or just plain tired after missing one)
  • If they start to have trouble falling asleep at their usual bedtime after they have had a nap

One way many parents find the balance after dropping a nap is by shifting bedtime a few hours earlier to make up the difference.

  • National Sleep Foundation. “National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times.” Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation, February 2 2015. Web.
  • Karen Thorpe, et al. “Napping, development, and health from 0 to 5 years: A systematic review.” Archives of Disease in Childhood. 100(7). July 2015. Retrieved on May 22 2017.
  • 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.
  • “Naps.” Kids Health. Nemours Foundation, April 2016. Web.
  • “Toddlers and Napping: How Much is Normal?” Sleep. National Sleep Foundation. Web

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