Creating a structured schedule and a calming environment for your toddler might only be half the battle won. Your toddler is beginning to understand that they are their own person, and might start to assert their independence, no matter how tired they are, by refusing to sleep.
How many hours should a toddler sleep?
Your toddler needs around 14 hours of sleep a day, 11 of those hours at night. The rest will come in nap form. They will still need two naps at 12 months, but by the time they’re 18 months old, they may be ready for a single 90-minute to three-hour nap in the afternoon – a pattern they will probably follow until they’re 4 or 5.
If and when they show bedtime resistance, continue practising the bedtime routine strategies [link to Baby Bedtime Routine] you’ve been working on since your child was a baby.
- Follow a nightly bedtime ritual. A simple but consistent routine of feeding, bath, reading, then bed helps them to know what to expect at night.
- Set a similar bedtime each night. Toddlers need a set time to go to bed every night as their body begins to expect sleep. Most toddlers do better with an early bedtime, between 6:30pm and 8pm.
- Offer them reasonable bedtime choices. To make your toddler feel empowered, let them make a choice, like what pyjamas they want to wear, or what book they want to read.
- Be calm but firm. Stand your ground, speak calmly and insist when it’s bedtime. If you give in to their request for “5 minutes more”, you’ll get it again and again.
- Ensure that they feel safe and secure. If necessary, give them a comfort toy, or leave on a night light.
- Move your toddler to a big-kid bed. By age 3, your child has probably outgrown their cot, and is ready to move out of it. Encourage them by telling them that part of getting older is learning how to go to sleep on their own when it's bedtime. When they use their new bed and stay put at bedtime and overnight, be sure to praise them.