As your child transitions from infant to toddler, there will be changes to their nap schedules. It is essential parents know what to expect.
When Nap Time Schedules Begin to Shift
The journey from newborn, to an infant, to toddler will see shifting sleep patterns, particularly when it comes to naps.1 From zero to three months, a child will likely require three to four naps per day; this number will drop between the ages of four to twelve months to two naps. By the time your child is a toddler, between one and three years old, they will only need between one and two naps daily. However, the number of naps depends on the child.
When a child reaches 12 months, they will typically only need one or two naps per day, but that is only an average. Some children might need two or three naps, depending on what they experienced during the day. Therefore, while there is no correct answer, most experts agree that a child between one and three only needs a maximum of two naps per day. However, you can change or alternate the sleep schedule depending on what happened on any given day or night; for example:
- If a child sleeps poorly one night, allow two naps the following day
- If a child sleeps well one night, allow one nap the next day
You might also have to be flexible with bedtime, meaning if a child had only one nap, it is possible they will become tired before bedtime. It is OK to put them to bed early.
As your child gets closer to three, they may no longer need a second nap. Feel free to begin phasing it out completely. Most children will no longer need naps between the ages of three and four.
Common Nap Time Duration & Time of Day
As an adult, you understand the concept of a power nap, lasting no more than 30 minutes but typically less. A toddler's nap time is not the same thing. A toddler needs between 11 and 14 hours of sleep per day, which breaks down to 10 to 12 hours per night with a one to two-hour nap during the day.2
Finding the ideal nap time is about finding a balance in your day. You do not want to put your little one down for a nap too late in the day because it can make bedtime that much more challenging, but putting them down too early might make it hard for them to fall asleep. A typical schedule might look something like this:
- 7 am; wake up
- 1 pm; nap
- 2 pm to 3 pm; wake up
- 7:30 pm; bedtime
While the times might vary, the main takeaway is the periods between sleep and waking. Between waking and the morning, you allow at least six hours, enabling plenty of time for breakfast, lunch, and play. You do not want to let your child sleep longer than two hours because that can inhibit bedtime routines.
Getting Your Toddler on a Schedule
Naptime schedules are similar to bedtime schedules except shorter. Repetition and consistency are the keys to developing new schedules. When establishing your new nap schedule, consider routines, like:
- Baby massage
- Rocking, swaying, or swinging
- Quiet play
Managing Inconvenient Nap Times
As toddlers grow, they might become reluctant to nap when you want them to, which can cause problems at bedtime. Sometimes, things are out of your control. Thankfully, there are several strategies for managing inconvenient naps and sticking to routines, including:
- Wearing your child out
- Maintaining consistent sleep schedules
- Keeping naps in the same location
- Tweak naps only when necessary
When push comes to shove, you might need a remedy to help promote safe sleep, like Wellements Organic Nighttime Gripe Water. While naptime and sleep schedules are challenging, you and your little one will find your stride with patience.