How Much Sleep Does Your Toddler Need?
It is imperative that toddlers get enough sleep because sleep directly impacts their mental and physical development. While we sleep, the blood supply to the muscles is increased, tissue growth and repair occur, hormones for growth and development are released, and energy is restored.
Many toddlers only get about 10 hours of sleep a day, which falls short of the 12-14 hours they require.
Toddlers between 1 and 3 years old generally require 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour day, including nighttime sleep and naps. The average toddler sleeps between 9 and 12 hours at night, and makes up the remaining hours with naps. Most babies settle into a sleep routine that includes a morning and an afternoon nap. When a toddler is 16 to 18 months old, he will gradually drop his morning nap. During this transition, he may nap one morning but not the next, or fall asleep between his usual morning and afternoon nap times.
Many toddlers get tired and cranky before their regular afternoon nap time as they begin to drop their morning nap. If your toddler is tired, shift her afternoon nap to an earlier time. Expect her afternoon nap to be longer – up to two hours or more. You may have to shift her bedtime to accommodate her new nap schedule.
While we sleep, the blood supply to the muscles is increased, tissue growth and repair occur, hormones for growth and development are released, and energy is restored.
If she finishes her nap later than usual, she won't be ready for bed at the regular time. Try to be flexible. Pushing back her bedtime instead of trying to force her to sleep when she's not tired will prevent power struggles and tantrums. If your toddler ends her afternoon nap earlier than usual, anticipate having to put her to bed earlier.
Don't wait until she shows obvious signs of sleepiness – it's easier to get her to sleep before she becomes overtired. Be prepared to also shift your toddler's meal schedule.