18 Month Old Sleep Schedule Tips
By the time your child is 18 months-old, you may feel like you should have the 18 month old sleep schedule situation all figured out. However, toddlers love to throw in feelings of separation anxiety, bouts of sleep regression, and overall brain overload to life at this time. This makes sleep an interesting and dicey prospect.
An 18 month-old still needs anywhere between 10-14 hours of sleep a day, including naps and bedtime. The nap situation may be changing, and you could have a fight on your hands every time you try to put your toddler to bed. Luckily, there are ways to survive and tips that make getting a toddler to sleep much easier.
Every child is different, but this is a pretty good idea of what a sleep schedule for an 18 month-old will look like.
- 7 a.m. to around 12:30: awake
- 12:30 to around 3:30 or 4: nap
- 4:00 p.m. to around 7 p.m.: awake
- 7 p.m to 7 a.m.: bed time sleep
You may notice there is only one nap thrown into the 18 month old sleep schedule, and that is something it’s time to get used to. You may also find that your child is now waking up at night more often, and this can be hard to deal with after getting used to full nights of sleep.
Get Ready for the Nap Drop
If your child hasn’t already dropped one of her naps, she will around the 18 month- mark, and this will change her 18 month old sleep schedule. This can make sleep even more confusing for everyone involved. Though one of her naps was probably getting pretty short when she was napping twice a day, it’s still disorienting when only one nap is on the books.
The nap your 18 month-old takes should be longer since she is dropping one. Expect two to three hours for her to get the rest she needs to be energetic and happy when she wakes up.
A child who is still taking two naps at 18 months will probably start cycling that second nap out before the age of two. However, most do it earlier and it changes the 18 month old sleep schedule.
Prepare for Sleep Regression
You may have noticed that you have a toddler on your hands now, not an infant. An 18 month old sleep schedule is the same as a sleep schedule for a child who is technically one and a half. That’s a long way from the newborn and infant years.
Your child is starting to talk, has likely started walking, and is learning new skills every day. This is very exciting to watch, but it can also lead to disruptions in sleep that make naps and night sleep much harder.
Sleep regression occurs when a child who was sleeping just fine refuses to sleep or wakes up often. As a parent, you are going to find yourself confused and frustrated that your once sleeping child now seems to have forgotten this skill altogether. It’s important to understand the reasons behind this change. It makes creating an 18 month old sleep schedule easier.
The growth and brain development taking place at this time in your child’s life is major. It’s so intense that sleep hormones may actually be affected. This causes a child who needs to sleep to suddenly not be able to, and it drives parents crazy.
What to remember about sleep regression and your 18 month old’s sleep schedule:
- Sleep regression is temporary.
- Don’t make any other major changes during this time if it can be avoided.
- Ask for help if sleep regression means you aren’t getting enough rest.
Keep the Schedule
You may not see the point in trying to keep a normal 18 month old sleep schedule when your little one suddenly refuses sleep. However, you absolutely need to stick to schedules and routines at this time if possible.
Obviously, the 18 month old sleep schedule is going to adjust when your baby goes from two naps to one. Still, keep bedtime the same if possible, and keep routines surrounding bedtime and nap time the same.
If your child always sleeps in his crib at nap time, don’t abandon that practice. If bedtime routine includes a bath and a story, continue this pattern in the 18 month old sleep schedule.
Even if it doesn’t result in stellar sleep for your child, routine is important and can give your toddler something to grasp during a time when he feels out of control. Plus, it will make life easier when sleep regression passes if you never abandoned your routines.
Your toddler is now in a place where she wants to make her own choices. Though you can’t let her decide not to go to sleep until one a.m., you can give her choices around bedtime that will give her a sense of control.
Offer your child the choice between two sets of pajamas. Offer her the choice of what stuffed animal to take to bed. This will make it easier to put her to bed without as much of a fight. Remember to only offer options you are okay with so you can roll with whichever one she chooses.
Don’t Offer Sleep Props
If your child starts a bout of sleep regression around the 18-month mark, it can be tempting to offer sleep props so everyone in the house can get some rest. This is a mistake.
If you finally have your toddler sleeping without a pacifier or resting without needing to be rocked for an hour first, you don’t want to reintroduce these methods. They may work for a while, but they will throw off the normal bedtime routine and build dependence on the props. You will have to go through the process of removing the props all over again.
Stick to the bedtime routine without props, and your child will eventually catch on to the 18 month old sleep schedule.
Screen time is discouraged for young children, and if your child is watching a screen, it needs to be for a limited time and supervised. When your child arrives at the 18- month mark, you may want to make sure screen time is completely out of the equation since it can make getting to sleep even harder for toddlers.
Make sure your child is finished using a screen or watching television at least two hours before bed. Don’t allow a screen to be in the room with your child when he is supposed to be sleeping. Definitely don’t make screens a part of the nap or bedtime routine since they can do exactly the opposite of helping with sleep.
Feed Before Rest
You may notice that your toddler is enjoying and experimenting with different types of food. That’s good news, and the growth she is going through means she craves food often. Don’t make the mistake of trying to put your child down for rest before filling her belly.
Have a snack before nap time and dinner before bed time. You can allow half an hour for the food to digest before you try to get your little one to sleep, but don’t let so much time go by that she is hungry when you put her down. Waking up with a growling belly means it will be very hard for her to go back to sleep easily.
Toddlers are adventurous, fun, and going through changes at a very fast pace. Sleep is essential to support their growth in every way. Make sure they get the rest they need, and don’t panic if sleep regression strikes. Eventually, your 18 month-old will be resting well again, and sticking the course until then is key.