Congratulations, your little one is two years of age! At this age, your 2 year old’s imagination really blooms, together with their speaking abilities and vocabulary, and is starting to show interest in playing with other toddlers and making new friends.
And, of course, being two years old means that it’s time to create a new sleep and nap schedule for your little one and guide them through the dreadful two year old sleep regression and the sleep problems that come with it. Continue reading to learn more about the sleep needs of a 2 year old toddler, the optimal length of their naps, and the best time to remove the naps from your baby’s sleep schedule.
2 Year Old Sleep Regression
If your toddler suddenly fights bedtime, refuses to nap, wakes up in the middle of the night, wakes up too early in the morning, and struggles with sleep, it means your two year old is in a sleep regression phase. These disruptions of your toddler’s sleep routine may seem to come out of the blue and leave you and your little one desperate for a good night’s sleep, but this is actually normal.
2 year old sleep regression is associated with teething, newfound independence, separation anxiety, fear, and development milestones. However, this too shall pass as sleep regression is often short-term and lasts around 1-3 weeks. During the sleep regression phase, you might feel like you’re participating in a battle of wills with your 2 year old, so it’s essential to stay consistent and calm. Knowing that this is just a passing phase might be helpful for remaining committed to the healthy sleep habits that you previously established.
Avoid fulfilling your child’s requests for sleeping in your bed or having you in the room with them while they’re falling asleep. Instead, find the reason behind your toddler’s sleep problems, and solve them directly.
How Many Naps Does a 2 Year Old Need and How Long Should They Be?
While each toddler is different, most 2-year old toddlers need two to three solid hours of daytime sleep, split evenly between two daytime naps: morning nap and afternoon nap. Some of the older toddlers ease into one long afternoon nap.
You need to know that your two year old baby needs between 11 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period of time, however, only a few toddlers are able to sleep that much during nighttime which is why daytime naps should be encouraged. Keep in mind that if your toddler doesn’t nap during the daytime, they can be prone to frustration, have less appetite and more tantrums, and be cranky. Your 2-year old baby will also have less energy – and they need more energy to fuel their everyday activities, so napping is very important for a toddler of this age.
Example for Toddler Sleep Schedule
It takes certain finessing to create a sleep schedule for your two year old baby. Creating a good sleep and nap schedule ensures that your 24 month old baby gets enough sleep and rest time, allowing you and your family members to plan your days accordingly. Keep in mind that the following suggestions are just guidelines since it’s essential to remain flexible when you create your toddler sleep schedule because each child has different sleep needs.
- Waking up. It’s important for your 2 year old child to wake up approximately at the same time every morning. This way you’ll create helpful sleep habits and stability into your 2 year old child’s days. Many 2 year old toddlers are early risers, and most usually wake up between 6 and 7 am. Whenever your 24 month old baby wakes up is quite fine, as long as they get enough nighttime sleep.
- Morning nap. If your 2 year old wakes up around 6 am, try to have the first nap time approximately at 9 am. However, as your little one is aging, they’ll grow out of the morning nap, and during this time you can have some quiet periods for reading books, independent play time, or listening to audiobooks. This quiet time can help your little one recharge for more activities during daytime, like playdates with other toddlers or park trips.
- Afternoon nap. Try to plan the second nap time after lunch. Preferably, set this rest time for the early afternoon, for instance around 1 or 2 pm, so it doesn’t interfere with your baby’s nighttime sleep ability, and it shouldn’t be less than 2 hours.
- Bedtime. 2 year old toddlers should go to sleep between 6 and 8 pm, which is the perfect time for their bedtime routine so that toddlers whose sleep needs are 12 hours of nighttime sleep are able to wake up with their family for breakfast.
Once you notice that your 2 year old baby is sleeping throughout the night and they’re rested when they wake up, you’ll naturally know that your loved one’s sleep needs are successfully established.
Reasons for Resisting Nap Time
Don’t worry, it’s just as normal for your two year old child to resist their daytime naps as it’s for them to fight going to bed. This can be caused by many reasons, so let’s go over the most prevalent ones.
- Being overtired. When a 2 year old toddler is exhausted, maybe because they aren’t getting enough sleep overall, they get a surge of cranky energy, and your 2 year old baby will spend a lot of this energy resisting going to sleep.
- Fear of missing out. Believe it or not, your two year old baby thinks that daytime naps are ridiculously boring. Your toddler has other interesting things to do, like exploring, running, and climbing, and the daytime naps put the kibosh on the real action.
- Separation anxiety. Many two year old toddlers feel the same fears and separation anxiety when you put them down for a daytime nap as they experience it at bedtime.
- Internal clock. Sometimes it’s difficult for your two year old child to fall asleep for their daytime nap due to the fact that their bodies have become attuned to be asleep when it’s dark and awake when it’s light. If this is the case, maybe putting blinds on the windows will help.
When Can a Toddler Stop Napping?
Most toddlers still need their naps even when they are 3 years old. However, as they grow up, they won’t be needing their daytime naps, so by 5 years of age, most toddlers will no longer sleep during the day. Here are some signs that indicate that your two year old toddler no longer needs their daytime nap:
- Struggling to fall asleep at nap time.
- Struggling to fall asleep at bedtime on days they’ve had their daytime nap.
- Wakes up early in the morning feeling completely rested and ready to play.
- Playing quietly instead of napping.
- Not showing signs of sleepiness till bedtime.
- Skipping their daytime nap entirely without showing any negative side effects.
There is one thing you need to remember – if your toddler doesn’t take daytime naps, they’ll need more nighttime sleep in order to get enough sleep. With consistency, flexibility, and practice, you can help your toddler develop healthy sleep habits, and you can rest easy knowing that your toddler is well-rested as well.
A Few Words Before You Go…
The first several years of your baby’s life are quite exciting, aren’t they? Your baby seems to be bigger and bigger every day. But, of course, there are some growing pains for you as a parent of a toddler. Getting enough sleep is essential for a toddler’s growth, however, many parents struggle to help their toddler stay well-rested.
Here’s the “secret” – the key to keeping your little one well-rested is a consistent nap and sleep schedule. Daytime naps are crucial for providing your toddler a necessary daytime rest to recharge so that your little one can be active and enjoy their day. In addition, your toddler’s daytime nap gives you a chance to relax as well. With bedtime routines and nap routines in order, you’ll be sure that your child is getting enough sleep, so be consistent and you’ll get there.