How Much Sleep Does My Toddler Need?

Thumb-sucking toddler sleeps in crib next to plush toy

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Toddlers’ sleep needs vary, but those who get the recommended amount of sleep have better mental, emotional, and physical health. Most toddlers should get between 11 and 14 hours of sleep in 24 hours.

Few topics consume a parent's attention more than toddler sleep. If you ask around, you're likely to get wildly divergent answers, especially if you compare notes with other parents. 

It can be disheartening to hear about the sleep champs who happily tuck in 14-plus hours of combined napping and nighttime slumber, especially if your child is a less robust or cooperative sleeper. However, take heart that many parents struggle to get their little one enough sleep—and some kids may just be wired for less sleep or less solid sleep.

Some kids also tend to fall asleep easier, while others seem to fight it. But that doesn't mean you can't tinker around to try some gentle sleep pattern re-wiring.

How Toddler Sleep Needs Change

Toddlers who get the recommended amount of sleep have improved attention, memory, and emotional regulation. As a result, they are able to learn better.

A toddler’s mental, emotional, and physical health is best when they get adequate sleep. When you help your toddler get enough sleep, you aren’t just helping them be happier—you’re supporting their overall well-being. 

12 Months Old: 13 to 15 Hours

At a year old, most babies still take two naps a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning nap is typically the shorter of the two, but together those naps should add up to about two to three hours of sleep. Nighttime sleep makes up the difference, usually between 11 to 12 hours.

Sample Sleep Schedule

6:00 a.m.: Wake for the day

9:30–10:30 a.m.: Morning nap

2:00–4:00 p.m.:  Afternoon nap

7:00 p.m.: Bedtime

18 Months Old: 12 to 14 Hours 

Around the time your toddler reaches 18 months, they may no longer need two naps a day. You might find that your child is harder to get down for that morning nap or that it's getting shorter and shorter. If so, try moving the nap 15 minutes later every day and then adjusting lunchtime to right before so that you're only doing an afternoon nap. 

If your child was sleeping at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., for example, the new nap might end up falling around noon instead. That single nap could be anywhere between one to two and a half hours, but lengths will vary quite a bit between toddlers. Nighttime sleep tends to stay around 11 to 12 hours at this age, bringing the daily total to about 12 to 14 hours.

24 Months Old: 11 to 13 Hours 

Once your toddler turns 2, their afternoon nap may begin to shorten to only about one hour. But, toddlers’ individual naptime needs vary. Usual naptime ranges for 2-year-olds can fall anywhere between one to four hours.

It is expected for nighttime sleep to slim down around this age to around 10 to 11 hours. As a result, 2-year-olds, on average, will get between 11 and 13 hours of sleep a day.

When Does Napping Stop?

Most kids will continue napping throughout the toddler and preschool years. By age 5, most kids outgrow the need for a nap.

Does Your Child Need More Sleep?

It's important to note that some children will naturally do better on less nighttime sleep than their peers, and there will also be those who will need a lot more to function at their best. The same is true of naps.

Some children skip that morning nap earlier and do just fine, while other kids stick with two naps or scheduled rest times until well into their preschool years. The key is to tailor your child's sleep routine to their specific sleep needs.

It probably comes as no surprise that toddlers who are sleep-deprived have more difficulty managing their emotions. One study followed toddlers who were deprived of naps. Researchers found that kids deprived of naps had a reduction in positive emotional responses and increased negative emotional responses.

Some clues that may indicate your child might need more sleep:

  • They are easily frustrated 
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep
  • Excessive crankiness
  • Less alertness than normal
  • Resistance to waking up in the morning
  • Rubbing their eyes

If you see these signs, it's time to take action to realign your child's sleep schedule to address any sleep deficit and get optimal sleep time back on track.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get my toddler to sleep later?

Consistency is the key to more predictable sleep and wake times. Be sure your toddler isn’t napping too close to bedtime and that their daytime sleep (either too much or too little) isn’t interfering with adequate nighttime sleep. 

That said, some toddlers are early risers, no matter how late or early they go to bed. Some tricks that parents find helpful are dark shades, a sleep-to-wake clock that tells them when it’s OK to get out of bed, and a fan or white noise machine.

A Word From Verywell

If you have a toddler who is not meeting the sleep recommendations for their age, you may feel worried. Remember, sleep guidelines are adequate for most kids. But, every toddler is different. Some require more or less sleep than others. If your child is exhibiting signs that they need more sleep, you may want to try some minor changes to improve their sleep habits.

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Article Sources
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  2. National Sleep Foundation. Toddlers and napping: How much is normal?. Updated 2020.

  3. Horváth K, Plunkett K. Spotlight on daytime napping during early childhoodNat Sci Sleep. 2018;10:97–104. doi:10.2147/NSS.S126252

  4. Berger R, Miller A, Seifer R, Cares S, Lebourgeois, M. Acute sleep restriction effects on emotion responses in 30- to 36-month-old children. J Sleep Res. 2011;21(3):235-246. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2011.00962.x

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