Toddler Sleep Tips
– By Age
Toddler sleep is often over complicated by blaming sleep disruptions on emotional factors, instead of looking at the biological needs of children. I am not saying emotions don't play a role in sleep disruptions, but typically something else is causing your toddler to fight sleep / wake at night, and then the emotions contribute to the sleep deprivation equation.
Typically toddler sleep disruptions are caused by:
- Hunger (up until 18 months)
- Over tiredness (from staying awake too long
- Too much daytime sleep (from napping too long)
These 3 “ingredients” need to be age-appropriately and consistently managed in order to establish and maintain consistent nighttime sleep, without the need to sleep train or cry it out. When toddlers are age-appropriately regulated, based on biological norms, sleep naturally follows, just the way nature intended.
By following The Full Feedings Method® 3 Toddler Rules we can typically solve for toddler sleep disruptions with very small tweaks and relatively quickly, but we wanted to provide you with our best toddler sleep tips, by age, to help you establish and maintain the consistent nighttime sleep your family needs.
- Hold on to 2 naps until as close to 18 months as you can. Even if your daycare dropped to 1 earlier, keep two on the weekend and days off to help keep over tiredness away.
- Shorten nap #1 as needed to help you keep 2 naps for longer!
- Allow more time for your toddler to fall asleep. As they get older, they’re more aware of everything around them and this can cause them to take longer to fall asleep.
- Help them when they need it. If your toddler is having trouble taking a nap or falling asleep at night, help them to sleep. You won’t be starting a bad habit but you will be helping to keep over tiredness away.
- Hunger can still cause sleep difficulty. Especially before 18 months old, a hungry toddler can have difficulty sleeping. Many toddlers at this age can’t eat enough calories to remain full so don’t drop milk too early!
- When you drop to 1 nap, move nap and bedtime earlier. You won’t start out with that perfect 12-2pm nap and 7am-7pm day. Be flexible, go slow and you will get there!
- Use two naps when you need to. Especially right when they drop to 1 nap, you may have days where you need to use two naps (early start of day, etc). This is okay and will help keep them from getting overtired!
- Shorten the nap when you need to to keep 12 hours of overnight sleep. Toddler sleep doesn’t change as often as it does when they’re babies, so lessen the nap by 15 minutes when you notice a pattern of your toddler having trouble falling asleep at night.
- Don’t drop the nap too early! If your toddler is having trouble falling asleep for their nap, lessen the length of the nap by 15 minutes. If that doesn’t help, have them in the crib earlier, so they have more time to fall asleep without becoming overtired. Most toddlers need to keep napping until they’re 3-5 years old, so don’t drop it before they really need to!
- Toddlers are known to go through phases of having trouble napping or flat out refusing to. Keep offering it and they will likely come back to it. Just like with everything else, they want to assert their independence!
- Slowly lessen total daytime sleep to keep the nap as long as possible. Sleep needs change frequently for toddlers, so staying on top of their age-appropriate sleep needs will help ensure you can keep your daytime and nighttime sleep!
If you want to learn more about a needs based approach to sleep, that will alleviate the need to sleep train, check out The Full Feedings Method with affordable, NO CRY IT OUT Online Sleep Programs or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Let’s get you sleeping, fam!