A lot of us (including me) think that by this age there is nothing to be done, that our kids now are so used to their sleep habits that it will be almost impossible to change. The good news is, it is not impossible, just more challenging. I started working on my daughter's sleep habits a few weeks after she turned two. It was indeed challenging and took time, but I'm glad I did it. Toddlers start defying our limits, they are especially good at it and we as parents are not good at it in the middle of the night.
As I mentioned before with the other sample schedules, sometimes just working on a schedule that works with their needs can have great benefits. Keep reading to find some tools to help you establish a better schedule; make sure to read the entire article and download your free printable.
Sleep needs change a lot during this age range, you need to be very aware of your little one's sleepy cues. This is where it gets tricky, since toddlers are very good at hiding these cues. Use this average as your starting point:
One year and a half: 11.15 hours nighttime sleep / 2.15 daytime sleep
2 years: 11 hours nighttime sleep / 2 hours daytime sleep
2 to 3 years: 10.5 hours nighttime sleep / 1.5 hours daytime sleep
An acceptable and normal wake-up time for your child should go from 6:00 am to 7:30 am. To help him distinguish between nighttime and daytime awakenings, be bold, enter the room, open la blinds, turn on the light and say "Good Morning".
It becomes very important at this age their wake-up time because generally, they start some kind of preschool, daycare, or morning activities. If your child wakes up after 7:30 and you want him to wake up early, you can start by waking up 30 mins earlier and move his bedtime; it might take some trial and error.
Your child might need a snack during the middle of the morning (around 10:00 am, depending on his breakfast). Lunch can be as early as 11:30 am, depending on the nap and wake-up time; just have in mind that at this age they get hungry earlier than us.
Nap duration varies a lot, you have to watch for sleepy cues. It is common that around age 2, your child refuses to nap, this is a false transition, and it is your job to keep offering it; just be constant.
IMPORTANT: Consider that at 18 months, awake time from the end of this nap to bedtime is about 4 hours; approaching 3 years this time changes to 5 hours. Keep this in mind, because keeping your child awake longer might cause over tiredness, middle of the night awakenings, early rising or struggling to fall asleep at bedtime.
If you already have a bedtime routine, just keep doing it and make the appropriate changes; toddlers might need more wind-down time, which means some relaxing games before bed and an extremely soothing bedtime routine (might take longer than usual). For me, the change came when I realize bath time was being too active and stimulant for my 2 year old daughter, she was definetly not calm; I had to switch first bath, them dinner.
The key is tht the routine is soothing, calm and consistent, here is an example:
Milk (if your little one still drinks milk at night, follow your pediatrician advice).
Get room ready (turn on a lamp, turn off the ligths, close curtains, etc...)
Cuddle while reading
Put him in crib
Say good night
Leave the room
An age-appropriate bedtime goes from 7:00 to 8:00 pm; this is when his body is ready to produce melatonin and go to bed. Depending on how long it takes for your child to go to bed, you have to make time for this; for some babies or children, it can take up to 20 mins.
If your little one still struggles to fall asleep on his own, we can work on a personalized sleep plan to create a functional schedule, identify sleep crutches to gradually eliminate. Click here to know more about how I can help.
Create your own schedule
You can download and print the page below and create your own schedule. Remember the starting point is the time your baby regularly wakes up. It might take some trial an error, but use the sleep averages mention above to start with.