Establishing a Toddler Sleep Schedule

toddler sleep schedule

Adequate sleep is crucial for the healthy development of growing kids, and toddlers typically require around 12 to 14 hours of sleep each day, including nighttime sleep and daytime naps. Needing a solid sleep schedule doesn’t go away when you child turns 12 months old. They likely need it now more than ever! To ensure that your child gets enough sleep, it’s important to establish a consistent toddler sleep schedule. By following a regular schedule, your toddler will know what to expect and be more inclined to sleep well.

Creating a Predictable Routine for Naps and Bedtime

Whether you’re establishing a routine for napping or nighttime sleep, it’s essential to maintain consistency by doing the same activities at the same times every day.

Choosing a Fixed Bedtime and Wake-up Time for Toddlers

Select a specific bedtime and wake-up time for your toddler, even on weekends. Similarly, determine the timing for their nap(s) and strive to be as consistent as possible.

Remember, it’s only recommended to drop to one nap at 18 months at the earliest. It’s common for babies to fight their second nap at around 12 months old. Book a free call with me if you want some help tweaking your schedule!

Engaging Bedtime Activities for Toddlers

As bedtime approaches, help your toddler prepare for sleep by following a consistent sequence of activities. This can include taking a bath, brushing teeth, and putting on pajamas. To involve your child and make them feel like an active participant in the bedtime routine, you can allow them to choose a special activity, snack, or drink as part of the process. However, it’s important to set limits and ensure that the chosen options are appropriate for bedtime. While indulging in ice cream in bed might be tempting, it’s not the best idea for a healthy sleep routine.

Winding Down Before Bed

Begin your bedtime routine by dimming the lights and turning off screens about 2 hours before bed. Engage in relaxing activities with your toddler, such as reading a story or singing a lullaby, to help both of you unwind. Consistently winding down at the same time every day signals to your child’s brain that it’s time to relax and prepare for sleep. Remember to keep these activities calming and avoid using the bed as a play area, associating it solely with sleep.

Designing a Safe and Comfortable Sleep Space for Toddlers

While your toddler may prefer to sleep in your bed, it’s important for them to have their own designated sleeping space as part of their routine. When establishing a toddler sleep schedule, whether for naps or nighttime sleep, place your child in a location that they consistently associate with sleep, such as their own bed. Ensure the sleeping area is safe by removing any potential hazards like oversized toys, cords, or wall hangings.

The sleep environment significantly impacts the quality of your child’s sleep. As bedtime approaches, make sure your toddler’s bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool, as these conditions facilitate better sleep. Consider using a soft nightlight or a sound machine, but ensure they are not overly bright or loud. It’s crucial to avoid screens during this time, as they can reduce melatonin levels, which signal sleep, by up to 22%.

If your toddler has started climbing out of their crib, I recommend lowering the mattress to the floor inside the crib. They are not developmentally ready to transition to a toddler bed until age 3.

Factors Affecting Toddler’s Sleep

In addition to establishing a bedtime routine, other factors during the day can affect your toddler’s sleep.

Balancing Playtime and Rest for Restful Sleep

Ensure your child receives enough playtime and exercise throughout the day. However, excessive activity close to bedtime can lead to overtiredness and make it difficult for them to fall asleep. It’s recommended to conclude exercise and activity at least two hours before bedtime to allow your child to relax.

Establishing Consistent Meal Schedules for Better Sleep Schedule

Consistency in mealtimes, similar to bedtimes and wake-up times, is beneficial. Try to have dinner end about 1.5-2 hours before bedtime. While a light snack is acceptable if they’re hungry, consuming too much food can disrupt sleep. It’s also advisable to limit their intake of caffeinated drinks and liquids at least 6 hours before bed time.

By following these guidelines and involving your child in the process, you can establish a consistent sleep schedule that promotes healthy sleep habits for your toddler.

Sleep Topics, Toddler Sleep Tips




Establishing a Toddler Sleep Schedule

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