Sleep Training - Sleep Help for 13 to 18 Month Old Baby to Toddler

Sleep Help for 13 to 18 Month Old Toddlers

Behavioral sleep problems are not uncommon in toddlers, especially due to their increased mobility, a normal peak in separation anxiety that occurs usually around 12 months old. Also, the transition from one nap to two can complicate things, as can any emotional attachments the child may have to things such as the bottle or pacifier. All of these things can lead to night waking.

Most toddlers transition to one nap a day at around 15 months old, sometimes not until around 18 months old. Most parents will find this transition to be challenging because there’s usually a point at which one nap isn’t enough but two are too many. The end result is an overtired toddler who sleeps poorly at night. 

Many parents will begin to experience the first temper tantrums from their toddler around this age when the child is starting to learn to “test” mom and dad.  Toddlers often show enormous amounts of willpower at bedtime and it can become a battle.  Parents must make sure to institute (if you haven’t already) a soothing bedtime routine – it reinforces adhering consistently to a routine and the setting of rules is essential.  This is extremely important because the next stage can be even tougher.

Around the age of one separation anxiety peaks and saying “goodnight” to mommy and daddy becomes hard for many toddlers.  You can ease their fears and hesitation with a nice long bedtime transition routine where a good amount of time is spent focusing on time together (with one parent or both.)  Don’t underestimate how much your toddler understands, even if he’s not speaking very much yet, so make sure to give lots of verbal assurances to let your child know that you are nearby. 

As stated in previous sleep help hubs, it’s important for children to have a routine and schedule to help keep their internal clocks in sync and regulate their day and night hormone cycles, but you have to also be flexible. Having predictability in their day helps to make them feel secure. Young children need regular naptimes and bedtimes, as well as three mealtimes (and snacks when necessary.) Below you’ll find a sample daily schedule. It’s a good guideline, but you may need to adjust it to accommodate your needs. The amounts of time in this sample schedule are averages; be aware that some kids sleep a little more and some a bit less, but the variations are much less than many parents think they are. If your child is not sleeping or napping well, then chances are that you’re underestimating how much sleep your child needs.

At this age range, eleven hours and fifteen minutes is the average amount of uninterrupted nighttime sleep a toddler should have, plus two and a quarter to two and a half hours during the day. Toddlers closer to thirteen months are usually still taking two naps, while at around eighteen months most toddlers have transitioned to one nap midday or in the afternoon.

Important Points

If you must skip a nap due to a doctor appointment or some other essential interruption, most children fare better skipping their morning nap rather than the afternoon nap. You can compensate for the skipped nap by temporarily moving up the afternoon nap.

If you haven’t already done so, you should transition your child to a cup and milk if he was on formula. Around their first birthday is ideally when this should be done, but better late than never. At this time, most toddlers are starting to get all of their nutrition from solids (table food.) Speak to your pediatrician about your child’s milk intake requirements and be sure to include other sources of calcium and vitamin D like yogurt and cheese.

Sample Sleep Schedule for 13 to 18 Month Old Toddler

(If your child wakes up between 6:00 and 7:00, shift the schedule earlier.)

  • 7:00 to 7:30 – Wake and eat breakfast.
  • 9:00 to 9:30 – If still taking a morning nap, give her a snack and then start the 1-hour nap now.
  • 11:30 to 12:30 – Lunch (decide when dependent on morning nap timing.)
  • 12:30 to 1:30 – Time for afternoon nap.  This should be about 1.5 hours if it’s the second nap; if it’s the only nap then it should be about 2 to 2.5 hours.  Follow nap with a snack.
  • 5:00 to 5:30 – Dinner time.
  • 6:00 to 6:30 – Begin your bath- and bed-time routine.
  • 7:00 to 8:00 – Toddler should be asleep.

Watch your child’s behavior throughout the day.  Is she content?  Then she’s probably on a good schedule.  Is she fussy and/or demanding?  That could be because she needs longer naps, an earlier bedtime, a later waking time or all of the above. 

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