The toddler years have really arrived now and you are chasing your toddler around the living room and hustling them into the buggy for a run around at the park! It sure is a busy time and there are pretty exhausted by the end of the day not to forget how exhausted you are also! Your little one may have even started day care!
So what does all this look like in terms of sleep? How much day sleep and night sleep is needed, normal, expected? Should a child still be waking in the night for feeds and taking hours to go back to sleep again…let’s find out in today’s blog!
Sleep Needs at 18 Months Ok, so first things first, your toddler will 99.9% still need to have a nap. It is possible 2 naps may be still needed however many toddlers have transitioned to one nap at this age. That first morning nap of the day is usually dropped around 15-18 months but some hang on to it until the bitter end! If your toddler is not sleeping so soundly at night you may find they are needing to top up on sleep during the day. Around 18 months of age, on 1 nap a day we would be looking for approximately 2 hours of day time sleep with 5-6 hours of awake time either side of the nap. If your little one is still taking 2 naps, 2.5 hours of total day time sleep will be ample. More than these ball parks of sleep time, then you may find it is impacting your nights. Of course there are many children out there who can and just love to sleep and take more, perhaps up to 3 hours and it is no issue at all. Night Sleep Your toddler still needs milk. It is definitely time to drop those bottles now if you have not already. Drinking from an open cup or straw now is great for hand / eye control, oral health and development, and giving your toddler the feeling of growing up, becoming a mini you with their own control, drinking from a cup just like Mummy! But how much milk is needed? As suggested by the NHS (UK) (2021) below is a guide.
Cream, yoghurt, mascarpone, cheese is all in the same bucket as dairy and can contribute to the dairy intake. Your toddler may still like a cup of milk when they wake in the morning but equally you can happily wave bye bye to that milk feast and go right into breakfast. Perhaps serve the milk at the table with the porridge and fruit.
This milk intake can be offered throughout the day. So bear mind if your toddler is taking a full cup of milk first thing in the morning upon waking they may not have such a hungry appetite for breakfast and then this puts the days meals and snacks out of kilter.
Having milk before bedtime may still be very much part of bedtime routine.
So What Does Nap And Food Times Look Like Over The Course Of The Day?
Let’s say your toddler is waking at 7am each day and has transitioned to 1 nap. Get up and off for breakfast you go! If not off to day care the morning is a great time to get outside and exert some of that energy that has built up over night from hopefully a great full 11-12 hours’ sleep.
Snack time around 10am and then lunch around 11.30. Nap at 12pm. This is a 5 hour wake window. Some toddlers are better with a 6 hour wake window which means lunch can be a little later and nap at 1.
If your toddler is still grabbing 2 naps a day then wake windows will still be short with 2.5 hours in the morning and 3 hour wake window until the lunch nap and then 3.5-4 hours until bedtime.
How do you know it is time to transition to 1 nap? CLICK HERE to find out!
After they wake from their nap getting some outdoor play time again is great for soaking up more natural daylight, that serotonin which converts into the sleep hormone melatonin. Even a half hour walk to the shops is beneficial!
A possible day for your toddler may look like this...
We want to aim for a 2 hour nap but if 1.5 hours is happening then take it and go with it!
Ideally you want to have the nap in the middle of the day. If you are in that transition period of dropping the morning nap you may need to bring lunch nap earlier the first couple of weeks and slowly push it back until you get to midday.
So in Conclusion...
In a 24 hour period your 18 month old sleep needs are in the ball park of 11.5 -14 hours. Nap in the middle of the day.
I hope this helps your questions and wonders over what your 18 month old schedule could look like, remember as always this is not gospel, it is my recommendations from my experience, studies and researched information. If you find a different schedule is working for your child and family then go with it, there is no need to change something that is working for you!
If you would like to talk more about your toddler's schedule and have some questions lets chat!
Peaceful nights to you all,
Your paediatric sleep consultant