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Your Toddler's Sleep Needs

Learn about your child's sleep patterns, and the benefits of sleep for your toddler.

Your Toddler's Sleep Needs

Among one-year-olds, sleep needs vary greatly from child to child. The average toddler sleeps around 12 hours a day. But the range extends from just eight hours to nearly 16. How much sleep does your toddler need?

Your baby's sleep patterns in his first year offer the best clue. Although he needs less sleep as a toddler, your child probably won't increase his up-and-about time by more than about an hour. So if your baby slept 16 hours a day, he'll probably sleep about 14 or 15 hours as a one-year-old. Unfortunately, if your child slept just 10 hours a night as a baby, he won't suddenly need more than that after his first birthday.

Your one-year-old will probably sleep around 10 to 12 hours at night—but not in a row! It's a rare toddler who sleeps more than six to eight hours at a stretch. But after half-waking at four or five a.m., your child can drift back to sleep fairly easily after some comforting. Your child will get the other two to four hours of rest he needs by napping during the day. Virtually all toddlers still take at least one nap a day and most take two. Depending on how much your child satisfies his need for sleep at night, his naps may last anywhere from 20 minutes to four hours.

How do you know how long a particular nap will last? Do you have time to do a load of laundry? Balance the checkbook? Make some business calls? Type up some letters? Or more likely, do you have time to take a nap yourself? If you stick to a pretty tight schedule regarding when and where your child goes to sleep—both at night and during the day—the length of his naps will become fairly predictable. Certainly flexibility about your child's sleep times also offers certain advantages, especially the freedom to go out during the evening. But the looser you are about your toddler's sleep schedule, the more difficult it is to predict how long he will sleep.

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