How Much Sleep Does a Toddler Need?

Toddler Sleep Patterns

Because a newborn sleeps 16-17 hours a day, it can be a shock when your child reaches one year of age and enters the toddler stage. According to some people, the toddler stage goes all the way up to age 3 and leaves parents sometimes baffled about the sleeping habits of their toddlers. This isn’t the adorable little being that you snuggled in your arms during the first few months of life. Believe it or not, that’s a great thing. Your toddler’s sleep habits may be baffling at times, but they’re also a sign that they’re developing the way they should. The amount of sleep they need will be less than a newborn, but they still need a great deal of sleep. If you’re a parent asking yourself how much sleep toddlers need because you’re at wit’s end with a toddler who won’t sleep, you’ve found the right information.

Every toddler is different, but on average, how much sleep toddlers need is a solid 12 hours a night. That’s significantly less than they needed as a newborn in the beginning year of life, but it’s also much more than the average adult needs (7-9 hours in most phases of adulthood). What needs to change in the toddler stage is exactly when children sleep. Your goal as a parent is to have a toddler who sleeps all night long, with an early bedtime and early waking time. Most parents who have toddlers or remember this phase of life will laugh at the daydream of a toddler who always sleeps the whole night through.

How much sleep toddlers need may also depend on their own individual developing brains. Just like some adults seem to need less sleep, some toddlers may not be hardwired to sleep enough and others may be predispositioned to less sleep than the traditional 12 hours. As a general rule, 12 hours a night of sleep is your goal with toddlers, but as they grow older into the toddler phase, you may experience some speed bumps along the way.

Toddler Sleep Issues

If your toddler seems to resist bedtime, they’re in a very large club of toddlers who simply don’t like to shut their brains down for the night. You may notice some difficulties with your toddler’s sleep that include:

  • Waking up in the middle of the night and crawling in your bed
  • Crying at bedtime because they don’t want to go to sleep
  • Temper tantrums and challenging your bedtime rules
  • Some toddlers may even throw things or scream out at you because they don’t want to go to sleep

These bedtime dilemmas have been experienced by parents the world over, and all of these things can challenge a peaceful bedtime routine. Despite all of this unpleasantness, how much sleep toddlers need remains the same, and it’s going to be up to you to as the parent to follow the basic rules of how much sleep toddlers need. If your toddler isn’t sleeping regularly through the night, leaving a gaping hole in your own sleep schedule, it might be time to take some action.

Sleep Training For Toddlers

Some experts recommend sleep training for certain cases of toddler bedtime turmoil. If your toddler is waking up in the middle of the night and crawling in your bed with you, it is possible that sleep training could help. Usually sleep training starts at about 6 months of age, but it can sometimes be effective with toddlers as well. Experts believe that this behavioral technique for sleep disturbances among toddlers help to literally train the child to sleep through the night. It might take some patience and work, but it can happen for you.

recommended toddler sleep schedule

A gentle, soothing bedtime routine, about 30 minutes before you want them to attempt sleep, helps to ease the toddler into the sleeping routine. When should toddlers go to sleep? Well, how much sleep toddlers need figure into this. Since they need 12 hours, some of it will depend on what time they need to be up in the morning. Most of the time, bedtime should be between 6 PM and 8 PM. Parents can tweak this schedule depending on what their own schedule demands are.

The before bedtime routine can be something that gently relaxes your child. It might be reading them a story. It could be a bath. Anything that might relax your toddler is a great idea. You’ll find that with some experimentation, that bedtime routine will leave you and your toddler feeling closer together and perhaps it will even work (nothing is guaranteed with every single session of sleep training). Just do your best and know that your toddler is probably doing the best they can to, given their excitable natures.

Finally, you have to confront the real problem: the toddler refusing to sleep the whole night through. They may be getting up and wandering around the house, throwing a tantrum at bedtime, or insisting on sleeping with you in your bed. It’s time to nix those behaviors, and this is the really challenging part because you have to truly stand up to a toddler and let them know what the rules are. That can be like breaking your own heart for a little while. Their screaming and crying is obviously going to be upsetting, but you’ve made the rules. Consistency and sticking to those rules will increase the chances that sleep training will work. If you’re lucky, by the end of your hard work, how much sleep toddlers need on average will match what your precious toddler is getting per 24 hour period.

How Much Sleep Toddlers Need?

If you came here looking for a base number for how much sleep toddlers need, it’s 12 hours, but every parent know that this isn’t always going to happen, even with the most sleep-cooperative little one. There will be times when your toddler is too excited to sleep, other times when they might have a nightmare, and still other times when your schedule might interfere with your toddler’s sleep schedule. All of these things affect how much sleep your toddler gets, but it will never change how much sleep your toddler needs. If you know your toddler is missing a bit of sleep, it might be time to let them catch up.

It’s also worthwhile to note that toddlers need one-two naps per day. Day time sleeping is okay for toddlers, and some adults don’t know this because they believe it might interfere with nighttime sleep. In reality, how much sleep toddlers need still outdoes how much sleep adults need, so those day time naps are must if you want to keep your toddler functioning at top capacity and as sweet as they can be. Lack of sleep for a toddler can cause all kinds of behavioral difficulties, including irritability, and any parent knows that with all the other ups and downs of life with a toddler, lack of sleep is not what you want to deal with.

Conclusion

Now that you know how much sleep toddlers need, and a particular method of addressing sleep problems, it’s time to put that information to good use. If you have a toddler who is picky about sleep and simply throws a fit every time it’s bedtime, sleep training can help. Be aware there are other methods to try as well, and there are a lot of different bedtime routines you can try within the method of sleep training. Remember that your toddler is just like you. They’re a unique human being who will respond to some things and not to others, especially when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. How much sleep toddlers need is important knowledge to have in your parental toolbox. Good luck putting it to use!