Here’s How To Get the Right Sleep Schedule for Your 2-Year-Old
As your little one moves into the full-blown toddler stage, everything changes - including their sleep schedules. But, that’s nothing new at this point.
Though they may be fighting nap time more and more now that they're experiencing more autonomy as a toddler, sleep is still just as important as it was in infant stages. As their bodies continue to grow and their minds continue to develop, they’ll need sufficient rest. This can be difficult, however, thanks to sleep regressions that are common in the second year. Keep reading to learn more about these disruptions in your two-year-old’s sleep patterns and how to get through them well-rested.
What should a 2-year-old schedule look like?
The beauty of humans is that we are all different. 2-Year-olds may have different sleeping preferences and or schedules, but remember that autonomy we mentioned earlier? What may work for one toddler may not work well for another. Ideally, though, regardless of what their day looks like, 2-year-olds should get between 12-13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period in order to prevent “sleep debt.” Sleep debt is an accumulative lack of sleep that could be detrimental to a child’s growth, development, and health.
A typical sleep schedule for a two-year-old that gets just enough sleep may look like this:
What time should a 2-year-old go to bed?
Since how much sleep your two-year-old gets is more important than when they go to bed, set a bedtime that is realistic for your family. If you don’t get home from work and daycare pick up until 7 PM, a 7:30 bedtime probably won’t be achievable most days.
Once you have found a bedtime that works for you and your toddler, keep it consistent. Having a consistent bedtime routine can reduce the likelihood of a fit before bed, as they learn what to expect and that it will be okay. Just as adults have their own “body clocks,” so do toddlers. Maintaining consistency surrounding bedtime can provide your two-year-old with sleep cues that help signal that it is time to go to sleep. No surprises. One of those sleep cues can be our Dream Weighted Sleep Sack. Zip it up and watch as it naturally reduces stress for your baby and provides them with a sense of security. It mimics the feeling of a hug, without the human touch.
How do I fix my 2-year-old sleep schedule?
Fixing a 2-year-old’s sleep schedule can be done with a technique called bedtime fading. This involves pushing the time that you put your toddler in bed back by 15 minutes every few days. By pushing their bedtime back, the idea is that they are spending less awake time in their bed - ultimately, putting your two-year-old to sleep when they are more naturally tired.
Doing so can help achieve longer daytime naps and quality of sleep throughout the night. On the other hand, if your toddler is going to bed too late, you can still use the same bedtime fading technique, only moving their bedtime up earlier by 15 minutes every few days instead. This provides a gentle transition to an earlier bedtime instead of setting yourself up for failure by placing a wide-awake two-year-old in bed and expecting them to sleep. During bedtime fading, keep your before-bed routine the same.
How long is a nap for a 2-year-old?
Daytime naps for a two-year-old may vary based on how long they slept the night before, as well as their activity levels. Ideally, a good daytime nap for a two-year-old is somewhere around two hours. That is if your two-year-old has dropped down to one nap per day. It is not uncommon for some two-year-olds to take two naps per day. Typically, this would be a shorter nap in the late morning followed by another short nap in the afternoon. Again, whatever works for your two-year-old is fine as long as they are making those zzzz deposits in their sleep bank.
At what age do toddlers stop napping?
Some parents of two-year-olds may be wondering if their toddler even needs a nap during the day anymore. While toddlers typically stop taking naps altogether between ages 3-4, a small percentage of two year olds may get enough nighttime sleep to safely and comfortably skip naps altogether. Here are 3 signs that your toddler may be ready to leave nap time behind:
- Your toddler has a hard time falling asleep after laying down for a nap.
- Refusing to sleep when their normal bedtime rolls around.
- They let you know that they don’t want to take a nap - either through words or actions.
While most two-year-olds still biologically need their naps, these are a few signs to keep in mind for the future. When you begin to recognize these signs on a consistent basis, it may be time to drop their nap.
How many times should a 2-year-old wake up at night?
In perfect conditions, many 2-year-olds sleep through the night without waking. If your toddler wakes more than once or twice, it may be due to an external factor.
- Hunger: Ensuring that a filling and nutritious dinner is eaten at a reasonable time before bed, and maybe even an additional bedtime snack, can help cure hunger wakes.
- Discomfort: This could be due to a full diaper, a cold draft, teething, or even illness.
- Nightmares: Yes, two-year-olds have dreams. Good ones, and unfortunately, bad ones. If your toddler wakes up seemingly scared or upset, comforting them is the best way to help soothe them back to sleep.
- Biologically normal: Growth spurts, sleep regressions, developmental changes, and other biologically significant changes can affect your two-year-old’s sleep patterns.
Why does my toddler fight bedtime?
One reason is simply because they can. That autonomy we keep talking about, yeah, two-year-olds love to use it. Past that, you may want to assess if your child’s sleep goals are being met, and maybe their bedtime can be pushed back to align with their body’s natural “tired” signals.
Is it OK to let a toddler cry to sleep?
Some parents agree with crying it out methods, while others opt for a gentler approach. Consider your toddler's individual temperament, emotional needs, as well as your own comfort levels when deciding if “cry-it-out” is right for your family.
At Dreamland Baby, we know how important sleep is. We also know how hard it can be, as parents, to help your child meet those sleep goals (without too much of a fight). That’s why we have developed sleep solutions for newborn stages all the way through toddlerhood - and beyond. Shop our collection of weighted and non-weighted sleep solutions that are designed with safety at the forefront.