What fun to be a mother! I have always greatly enjoyed cuddling and caring for a baby. But then when babies become toddlers, I enjoy it even more. 2-year-olds start to form their own opinions, are able to express themselves, want to develop, and think the world is there especially for them. It is also the age that a toddler thinks they know how much and when to sleep. But… How many hours should a 2-year-old sleep?
My personal favorites
These are my personal favorite sleeping products that will help your 2 year old to sleep trough the night!
At what age do toddlers give up naps?
When your toddler was still a baby, he or she would sleep 5 or 6 times a day. As they age, they nap less, but sometimes a bit longer. A child that is about 18 months old often does not need a nap in the morning anymore. A 2-year-old sleeps about 10-12 hours at night and takes a long 1 to 2 hour -nap in the afternoon. Parents tend to enjoy their toddler taking an afternoon nap. This is a lovely quiet moment of the day that allows a parent to recharge their battery for the rest of the day. It could also be that you notice that your toddler still really needs a nap, because without it he or she will be too tired to eat dinner for example.
How do I get my 2-year-old to take a nap?
Just like the evening ritual (cuddle, bath, book, brush teeth, put on pajama..) it is important to have a short sleep ritual before the afternoon nap. For example: Clean diaper or go potty, listen to a song, read picture book and go to bed… If problems persist despite the ritual, it is important not to change this ritual too quickly; because you know that if you give in with your toddler, it becomes very hard to stay consistent.
What you can do is come to a compromise with your toddler. If your child stays in bed quietly for at least half an hour, listening to music, playing with the stuffed animals, or looking at picture books, he or she will have some quiet time while you have a bit of time to yourself. But when naptime becomes a battle and the need for sleep in your toddler decreases, it is better to give this afternoon nap up. In that case, you could come up with something that helps get you a moment of peace in the day. I always had a favorite toy ready for this moment (Best educational Toys For Toddlers); something that allowed them to play independently and use their imagination. Toys that allow them to reenact their world are very suitable for this purpose. Fisher Price has many beautiful things for little people, such as:
Some parents put their child in front of the TV for half an hour. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, but know that you need to keep an eye on the amount of TV your child watches and what he or she watches. Watching TV, they get a lot of impressions that their little brains can’t process at that quick a pace. I will write a blog about this shortly.
When it is that they no longer need their afternoon nap differs greatly per child. My children were about 2½ years old when they stopped taking afternoon naps. However, I notice at school that some 5-year-olds stay home for a nap from time to time.
At what time does a 2-year-old go to bed?
It differs per child, but on average a 2-year-old needs to get between 12-14 hours of sleep per 24 hours. See below for the table ‘How long should a 2-year-old nap?’
When my three children were all around the same age, the youngest (1,5 years old) would go to bed around 7 PM and the oldest two (3½ and 5½ years old) around 7.30 PM. This way I had a half an hour with just the oldest ones to enjoy a game. This worked just fine, until the youngest one discovered that his big brother and sister did not go to bed when he did. Every night there was something else. Sometimes he would have an excuse (sip of water, bathroom, too cold, too warm…), sometimes he would incessantly yell ‘mama!’, sometimes he would start crying when it came close to bedtime. We were dealing with sleep regression.
How do you deal with sleep regression in a 2-year-old?
Toddlers are great. When toddlers are around 1½ years old, or a little later sometimes, they realize they have they own opinion. In a toddler’s eyes the world revolves around him or her. They are still very self-centered. I’m sure it is clear to you that during this period of time your toddler will find that his or her opinion is very important. You have probably already experienced that your little one suddenly wants to decide what to eat. It can be tricky to deal with this. I have written a blog about this: Eating Tips for Toddlers.
But now your toddler also wants to decide what time to go to bed. I know it can be hard to stay patient. At the end of the day it is nice for mothers and fathers to be able to do something without the children, to have time for each other or yourself. If your toddler keeps getting out of bed, or starts crying, and it takes an hour for them to finally go to sleep, it drains your energy. See my blog: How do you deal with parental stress? But don’t fret, there are solutions.
First of all it is important to know why your toddler is not going to sleep. It could be that he or she is afraid. During this time in life fantasy and reality intertwine. A stuffed animal in the twilight can be frightening, because it can resemble a monster. Children around this age can also suffer from separation anxiety. If mommy leaves the room, is she completely gone? Will she be back? For a toddler, the easiest way to check this is to keep calling out MOMMY!!!
In my blog: How to get a toddler to sleep? You will find the 20 best tips to get your toddler to sleep. It is important to find out which ones work best for you and your toddler, and to keep up with the new ritual for at least 14 days before trying something else. Be consistent without being too strict. It is hard with toddlers, but believe me, this approach works wonders. How else could I, after 30 years, still enjoy being a kindergarten teacher..?
How important is getting enough sleep for my toddler?
Sleep is very important for the body. But especially for a toddler, sleep is crucial for processing all the stimuli that enter his or her little world. A toddler’s world becomes bigger and bigger. When your kid was a baby, he or she would be in bed a lot, in a play pen or on a blanket in the living room. Then crawling started and he or she started discovering the house. When walking started the world grew even more. But now that your child is two years old, he or she tries to understand everything that is seen and experienced: ‘Why are you leaving mommy?’, answer: ‘I have to go to work’. ‘Why do you have to go to work?’, answer: ‘To earn money’. ‘Why do you have to earn money?’ … I am sure you know the rest. These questions do not stop. There is a lot going on in the little brains of these children. That is a good reason why a toddler needs to get enough sleep.
2-year-old routine that works every time
2-year-old sample schedule
When your toddler has to go to daycare, because both parents work, the following schedule won’t exactly apply. Even so, it is and remains very important that you get up with time to spare, so that your family’s start of the day will be calm and pleasant.
In the below schedule we assume you are home for the day. Of course not every family is the same and neither are all 2-year-olds, but I hope this schedule helps you some. Of course you can adjust it accordingly to meet the needs of your own family. The important thing here is to maintain a routine.
7.00 AM Get up from bed
Sometimes toddlers wake up earlier, but it would be nice if they can get used to stay in bed until mom or dad are there to start the day, at around 7 AM for example. If kids get used to this, they will play with their stuffed animals for a little while, or just relax until it is time.
7.30 AM Breakfast
We always share a quiet breakfast at the table, not in front of the TV. First a sandwich with something healthy, whoever is still hungry, can have a sandwich with something sweet. If you are consistent about this, this should not be a problem. Everybody stays at the table until you all have finished breakfast.
8 AM Independent play
Mom or dad does the housekeeping while your child entertains him- or herself for a while. Of course we keep an on them, but do not let them take up too much or your attention. Independent play is important for your child’s development, and if they don’t know what to do, it is ok for them to be bored for a bit. He or she will discover something to play with soon.
9 AM Play together
Great, the kitchen and the sleep things are tidied up. Now your toddler knows that there is time for him or her. Read books together, play a game together, dance through the living room together, there are many fun things to do with a 2-year-old.
10 AM Coffee
You are drinking a cup of coffee or tea, while your toddler gets some juice, yoghurt or water with a snack. You can use this moment to give your toddler fruit. Maybe you will let your child play by him- or herself while you read the newspaper or do something else for yourself.
11 AM Time to go outside
Even if it is raining or if it is cold, it is great for toddlers to be outside. Put on a raincoat and boots. Go to the garden or to the park. Bounce around in the puddles, look at nature. Let them ride around on ride-on toys. See my blog: Best Ride On Toys For Toddlers in 2019.
12 PM lunch
Being outside will have made your toddler hungry. You sit down at the table to eat a meal together: Bread, maybe some soup. After eating your child will get sleepy and it will be easy to have him or her take a nap.
1 PM Nap time
After a short sleep ritual of clean diaper or going potty, put on pajamas and read a short book or sing a bedtime song, your toddler will take a great nap. This gives you some time to yourself. Try not to use this time for housekeeping.
2.30 PM or 3 PM Play together
In my experience a toddler needs some attention after he or she has taken a nap. Having a snack or a drink together, perhaps some fruit. Play together for a while, cuddle or frolic, and your child will be feeling awake and energetic again.
4 PM Play independently inside or go outside together
If it is nice out, your toddler can play in the sandbox on the playground, while you chat with friends who also came to the park with their kids. This allows your toddler to be social as well.
5 PM Cook dinner
Cook dinner together with your toddler. Include him or her in the chopping and cleaning of the vegetables and setting the table. Your toddler will enjoy eating everything off of his or her plate. See my blog: 20 best tips for eating problems.
5.30 PM Dinner
Your partner will be home by now, so that you can all sit down for dinner together. Chat with each other, creating a nice atmosphere at the table. Everybody helps cleaning up afterwards. Your toddler can help as well, or he or she can play independently for a bit.
6.30 PM Bedtime
It is likely that your partner will enjoy doing the bedtime ritual or part of it, with your toddler. Don’t make it all too exciting with lots of frolicking; this will make it hard for your toddler to get to sleep.
Average sleep schedule for toddlers
|18 months||2 hours||11 hours||13 hours|
|2 years||1 ½ hours||11 hours||12 ½ hours|
|3 years||–||11 or 12 hours||11 or 12 hours|
This is an average. Some toddlers will need less sleep, others will need more. If a toddler is energetic and happy during the day, that means they are getting enough sleep. Is your toddler grumpy, lethargic and often sick, then he or she probably needs to get more sleep.