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Toddler Sleep Schedules – What to Expect

Toddler sleep schedules start to adjust starting around 15 months, which is the average age when children begin to transition from 2 to 1 naps. During this time, toddlers are also going through significant developmental changes cognitively, physically and emotionally. I’m here to share with you my top tips to ensure you are addressing your toddler’s needs when it comes to sleep. 


Sleep Needs & Schedule 
Children 1-2 years             11-14 hours in a 24-hour period
Children 3-5 years             10-13 hours in a 24-hour period

Sleep Schedule with No Nap
Wakeup – no sooner than 6 a.m. and no later than 7a.m.
Midday quiet time between 12 and 1 p.m.
Bedtime - Asleep by 7:00pm

Sleep Schedule with 1 Nap
Wakeup – no sooner than 6 a.m. and no later than 7a.m.
Nap - Aim to be asleep for nap by between 12:30 - 1:00pm 
*In order to ensure your child is tired enough for bedtime, avoid naps going past 3/3:30pm at the latest!
Bedtime - ASLEEP 4-5 hours after waking from their nap


2. Bedtime Routine
Does your child have a set bedtime routine? Bedtime routines are key in signaling your child’s brain and body that it’s time for bed. If you don’t have one established already, now is the perfect time to set up a basic, simple bedtime routine to help your child get back to a good schedule. 


3. No Screens Before Bed
Screen time before bed and too much screen time, in general, can cause a lack of sleep and many other sleep issues. The Mayo Clinic states “The more time spent watching on a screen, the more likely children are to have trouble falling asleep or have an irregular sleep schedule.” Limiting screen time in the last hour before bedtime can have major positive effects on how easily your child falls asleep and their overall amount of sleep.


4. Relaxing / Quiet Time Before Bed
Finding a relaxing and quiet activity to do before bed is a great way to calm your child’s mind and body down. Start your quiet activity 30 or so minutes before bedtime. You can do something like reading a book together, crafting, painting, anything that doesn’t involve a screen and is calming. A great activity for school-aged children is to do a puzzle together as a family. It is a great way to have some fun family time in a relaxing environment.  A few other suggestions are: 


Bedtime Yoga is wonderful for children who need to calm their bodies a bit before bedtime. Some children find this to be overly stimulating, while others enjoy this physical activity prior to making their way to the bedroom. Good Night Yoga: A Pose by Pose Story is one of my favorite books to help calm the body and the mind through yoga.


Bedtime Meditation - For children having a hard time settling their mind and thoughts, you can put on a guided meditation. This would occur the last 10-15 minutes of his routine should take place with him lying in his bed listening to a guided meditation for children. “Billy and Zac the Cat” bedtime meditations can be found for free on YouTube.


They are very relaxing for the brain, which is good for a child that may be feeling a bit of anxiety at bedtime. Remember, however, that if you choose to listen to these meditations that you’ll want the screen to be dark to avoid any exposure to technology.

5. Establishing Sleep Rules 
Starting at around 18 months, toddlers can start to push boundaries, especially when it comes to sleep. If this starts to happen, I recommend reestablishing the sleep rules and routine with your child. Here are a few ways to do this:

Ok to Wake Clock
The “ok to wake” light/clock comes into play with the sleep chart. Your child will get a signal from his light/clock that it’s ok for them to wake up or come out of their bed/room when the clock turns yellow (or blue or whatever color is his favorite).

Explain this to them in simple terms. The repetition of this explanation will help them to begin to understand how it works. Even if we can get them to stay in their room quietly until the clock/light goes off, this will be a success (and they should get a sticker).

In the beginning, I would recommend setting the ok to wake light to go off a bit on the early side. That way, we can PRAISE them and show them that they CAN do this! Then, we will slowly push this timing forward.

Bedtime Routine & Rewards Chart
Implementing a bedtime routine and rewards chart can help set the sleep routine and rules with your child. The key to this is consistency, implementing the rewards for positive behavior and instituting a consequence/something to take away when they do not follow the new sleep rules. This is HARD! It's hard to take something away that your child enjoys but toddlers truly learn and understand behaviors when we reset their boundaries for them.
The routine/rewards chart will help with keeping bedtime on track and giving your child a visual tool to follow to help move through the routine.

PRO TIP: Use a timer for each step of the routine if your child is trying to delay bedtime!

If you need help with assessing your baby's sleep space or have any sleep questions, please reach out to me, molly@sleepshore.com.  

Baby Brezza is proud to partner with sleep coach Molly Leighton. She can help you get your your baby on a solid schedule and achieve your goals. Contact Molly at molly@sleepshore.com, visit her website at www.sleepshore.com or follow her on Instagram (@sleep.shore) or Facebook (@sleepshore)
Sleep & Soothing

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