21 Month Old Sleep Schedule: Tips & Common Questions

21 Month Old Sleep Schedule

Toddlers are often a handful at 21 months old. At this age, your toddler will have their own idea of what they should be doing when it comes to their sleep schedule. Hoping to assert their independence, your toddler may reject the sleep routine that they’ve been following up until this point.

At this age, toddlers still need to get their sleep and parents must focus on making sure nap-time and bedtime are a staple of their daily routine.

The following tips will help improve your child’s 21-month old sleep schedule:

1. Have Your Toddler Fall Asleep by Themselves

At 21 months, toddlers need to learn how to go to bed on their own. Parents shouldn’t need to nurse, rock, or lull their toddler to sleep at this point.

If your child begins to depend on these practices, they won’t be able to get back to sleep on their own should they wake up at night. Experts warn that babies often are disturbed if they wake up to different conditions than what they experienced when they fell asleep.

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For example, if your child learns to fall asleep with you cuddling them only to find that you’ve disappeared when they wake up, they will grow increasingly uncomfortable and won’t be able to go back to sleep until they’ve found you.

Parents can prevent this kind of trouble by letting their toddlers fall asleep on their own. This is an essential component of sleep training and will help your child learn to self-soothe.

2. Give Your Toddler Choices

Toddlers are growing in their independence and need their 21 month old sleep schedule to reflect that. As toddlers like to test their boundaries around this age, it’s helpful for parents to give them the opportunity to make their own choices around bedtime.

If your toddler is asserting their independence, try giving them the option to pick what type of bedtime story you read. Similarly, allow them to choose between their favorite comfort objects for the night and what pajamas they wear. While these are very minor decisions, to your growing toddler they help to satisfy their need to feel grown-up.

3. Alter the Mattress or Ditch the Crib

Another important aspect of the 21 month old sleep schedule to consider is that your toddler may not be safe in their crib. As toddlers often climb out of their cribs at this age, parents can try a few strategies before ditching the crib entirely.

Parents can first try to lower the crib’s mattress to help prevent their child from climbing out. This will likely work until the child is big enough to climb out anyway. Similarly, when your toddler does climb out of the crib, don’t reinforce this behavior. Simply tell them not to climb out and put them back in.

Ultimately, if your toddler keeps climbing out of their crib, it’s time to make the transition to a big kid bed.

What to Expect with 21 Month Old Sleep Schedule

At this point, your toddler has a few needs that differ from any other point in their life. Watch out for these needs:

  • RepetitionToddlers benefit the most from consistency and repetition. This is the best way to help them follow a bedtime routine.
  • BoundariesAt 21 months, toddlers like to test the limits and will push any and every boundary, starting with sleep. Parents must work hard to reinforce the 21 month old sleep schedule boundaries at this time with consistency to make sure they create a sleep routine they can stick to.
  • Emotional helpAt 21 months, toddlers experience a lot of distinct emotions that will inevitably affect their sleeping habits. At this time, parents must be sure to hear their child out, allowing them to feel understood and encouraging them to express their emotions.
  • Nap needsA 21 month old sleep schedule should still include naps. While toddlers may pretend they don’t want to sleep, they need their naps now more than ever. With perseverance, parents can make sure their toddlers get back into the routine of taking regular naps.
  • RoutinesRoutines are an essential part of a toddler’s life. At this time, your 21-month-old is developing quickly and requires the stability and structure of a reliable routine to help them better make sense of their changing world.

Common Questions About 21 Month Old Sleep Schedule

Having trouble understanding how to help your toddler adjust to the 21 month old sleep schedule? The following questions and answers should provide some clarity:

How much sleep do toddlers need?

By the time your child reaches 21-months-old, they need around 10 – 14 hours of sleep. A 21 month old sleep schedule often includes only one nap that will last up to three hours.

In addition to nap-time, toddlers should sleep for at least 10 hours a night. By following a healthy sleep schedule, parents are assisting their children in creating beneficial habits that will follow them through to the rest of their life.

Should toddlers nap?

When it comes to naps, toddlers may vary. At 21 months, it’s common for a toddler to already make the jump to one nap, but many toddlers are still taking multiple naps at this age.

While your child’s napping habits will be unique to them, it’s important to make sure they never nap too late into the day, as they need to be tired enough to go to sleep at the same time each night.

Does my child need a comfort object?

While newborns should never sleep with comfort objects in the crib, toddlers are of an age where it is safe enough for them to have something with them in bed. Whether it’s a bear or a blanket, toddlers seem to love their comfort objects.

If your toddler can’t seem to sleep without their special object, it’s likely that they’ve become dependent on it. Experts suggest that comfort objects help children to feel more at ease when in bed. Similarly, when they wake up mid-sleep, having their comfort object close to them helps them to feel safer, which makes it easier for them to self soothe and get back to sleep.

Why won’t my toddler sleep?

When working to create a stable 21 month old sleep schedule, you may notice that your toddler refuses to sleep at times. Toddlers often fight sleep because they want to make sure that they don’t miss out on any excitement by going to bed.

This fighting sleep can be a sign of sleep regression and can lead to the baby being overtired if it isn’t taken care of. Parents can deal with this issue by maintaining structure in the nap times and bedtimes to make sure their toddler doesn’t deviate from the routine.

Where should toddlers nap?

It’s important to be very intentional about toddler’s sleep routines. As such, many parents wonder if their child should sleep in a specific location for their nap.

During nap time, it’s best for toddlers to sleep in an area that is just for sleep at nap time. Instead of napping in the cot, crib, or stroller, toddlers should have a clearly defined area for napping.

Parents can do this by creating a “nap corner” for their toddler that’s filled with pillows, blankets, and comfort objects that will soothe them. Whatever area you choose to be the nap spot, make sure it provides your child with ample support and security so they can sleep safely during their naps.

When should I transition to the big kid bed?

Transitioning from the crib to a bed is a big step for any toddler. While this is an essential milestone, it will have an effect on your toddler’s 21 month old sleep schedule. This is why it’s important to only make this shift when your child is ready.

The best time for a child to go from crib to bed will depend on the child. However, toddlers tend to be ready for this shift between the ages of 2 to 3. Parents should consider making this transition earlier if their toddler is already climbing out of the crib.

If you’re ready to take your child’s 21 month old sleep schedule to the next step with this transition, make sure to prepare for it by speaking with them about the big move. Many parents incorporate this big “bed graduation” into storytime by reading books where characters make the transition themselves. With the proper preparation, toddlers are able to seamlessly make the shift into their new bed.

21 Month Old Sleep Schedule

The following is a sample 21 month old sleep schedule you can follow in your own sleep routine for your child:

  • 7:00 a.m.
    Wake
  • 7:00 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.
    Breakfast
  • 9:00 a.m.
    Optional Snack
  • 11 p.m. – 12:00 p.m.
    Lunch
  • 12:00 p.m.
    Nap
  • 3:30 p.m.
    Optional Snack
  • 5:30 p.m.
    Dinner
  • 6:30 p.m.
    Bedtime Routine
  • 7:00 p.m.
    Bed Time

It’s not uncommon to experience challenges when working to define your toddler’s 21 month old sleep schedule. As you work to create a stable routine, keep this information in mind to help your child become accustomed to their new sleeping habits.