20 Month Old Baby Sleep Schedule Tips
For parents of young toddlers, sleep is often in short supply. Between fighting sleep, nightmares, and climbing in your bed in the middle of the night, you may be at your wit’s end trying to get your 20 month old on a sleep schedule that leaves both of you rested.
The good news is, this won’t last forever. As your little one grows, he or she will become more independent, and there will come a day that they’d sleep all the time if you’d let them. In the meantime, though, there are a few things you can do to form good sleeping habits and start to fix your 20 month old’s sleep schedule.
Schedule a naptime
By 20 months, most toddlers are down to just one nap per day. If your little one is sleeping more than 2 hours during the day, this could be contributing to his or her wakefulness during the nighttime hours. One thing you can try is to wake them up at the 2-hour mark to make sure they’re still tired at bedtime.
Another factor is the time of day your little one takes their nap. If he or she tends to fight naps and falls asleep later in the day as a result, they may not be tired enough at bedtime to fall asleep, or may drift off only to be wide awake just a couple hours later. To remedy this, try to start naptime earlier in the day, aiming for around 4-4.5 hours of awake time between nap and bed.
Start a bedtime routine
A simple bedtime routine can work wonders when it comes to your 20 month old’s sleep schedule. If you’re not already following one, you should think about a routine that will work for your family.
Choose relaxing activities, and try not to do anything to get your child wound up before bed. For example, if your little one enjoys baths, a soak in the tub could be a perfect way to get them to relax, but if they’re going through the dreaded afraid-of-water phase, it could be counterproductive.
Another good addition to the routine is a bedtime story. Make sure it’s short and simple enough to keep your child’s attention, with plenty of colorful pictures. At this age, it may be best to stick with one or two familiar stories rather than trying to read a new one each night, but this really depends on your child and what captures their interest. Whatever you choose to do, a routine is key when creating a sleep schedule for a 20 month old.
Make sure the room isn’t too quiet
You can’t expect a toddler to sleep through the night when every little noise is waking him or her up. Most adults can’t sleep without a fan or some other form of white noise, and small children are typically no different.
The womb was not a quiet atmosphere, and even though your little one has been in the outside world for nearly two years now, the soothing sounds of a fan or even a white noise machine may help normalize your 20 month old and improve his/her sleep schedule.
Some children prefer to fall asleep to music, whether it’s lullabies or just something gentle and familiar. You can experiment with whether it seems to work best if the music plays all night or just long enough for your little one to fall asleep, but you’ll want to make sure there is still background or white noise if the music does stop.
Write it down
If you want your 20 month old on a solid sleep schedule, you’ll have to be consistent. This means figuring out what you want to be included in the routine, and doing it at the same time every evening. It may help if you write it all down and hang it up somewhere you’ll see it, like the refrigerator. Try making a game of it so your little one will be more cooperative.
It may take awhile, but if you continue to be consistent, your little one will come to expect each step of the routine and even enjoy it. If something comes up to interrupt your 20 month old’s sleep schedule once it’s established, be prepared for a cranky toddler until everything is back on track.
Take it slow
Having a healthy sleep schedule is absolutely possible, but it probably won’t happen overnight. In order to make your 20 months old’s sleep schedule a positive experience, you may need to take it slow depending on how drastic the change is.
Also, be mindful of other changes that are going on in your toddler’s world. Things such as moving from a crib to a toddler bed, switching daycare providers, or mom going back to work full time can cause emotional upsets you might not be aware of. If there are multiple changes happening, try not to overwhelm your little one. Take it one change at a time, and don’t try to change too much at once.
Know how to handle sleep regression
Most toddlers go through sleep regression around 18 months of age, and then again around the 2 year mark. These regressions happen for various reasons:
- Curiosity- your little one doesn’t want to miss anything so they start fighting naps and bedtime
- schedule interruptions such as activities that cause them to skip naptime, causing them to become overly tired
- pushing boundaries-your little one is discovering their independence and wants to be in charge
Even if you have your 20-month-old’s sleep schedule figured out now, regression can still happen as they grow and change.
One of the most important things to battle sleep regression is making sure your little one is getting enough rest to begin with. If they take a shorter nap than usual or skip napping altogether, make sure you put them to bed early to make up for it. This will help prevent meltdowns due to being overly tired at bedtime.
If your little one is pushing boundaries trying to get his or her way when it comes to naps and bedtime, you may need to change your approach. You’ll never get your 20-month-old on a sleep schedule if you let them run the show.
When it comes to setting boundaries for a toddler, decide what’s important and choose your battles accordingly. If your little one is refusing to sleep at naptime, try enforcing quiet time or “ lights out” so staying up to play won’t seem so enticing. Stop letting them delay bedtime by bringing you book after book when you said you would only read one. If they tend to wake up in the night asking for a drink, try putting a sippy cup of water beside the bed so there’s no excuse to get up.
Toddlers are constantly growing and changing, and their sleep cycles are bound to change right along with them. There will always be ups and downs, but with a little preparation, you’ll come out on the other side with your sanity intact.
Creating a 20-month-old sleep schedule may seem like an impossible task, but with a little planning and a lot of consistency, you’ll both be sleeping better in no time.