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2-3 YEAR

Sleep Schedules

A series of guides, sleep schedules, and average sleep needs that outline realistic sleep expectations for each age.

0-2 months
3-5 months
6 months
7-8 months
9-11 months
12-13 months
14-16 months
17-23 months
2-3 years
3-4 years
4-5 years

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Average sleep needs of a 2-3 year old

1

Nap

1.5-2 hours

Daytime sleep

Sleep needs can vary between children. These guidelines are a starting point, but follow your child’s lead to make adjustments.

10.5-11.5 hours

Nighttime sleep

Average sleep needs of a 2-3 year old

Naps: 1

Daytime sleep: 1.5-2 hours

Night time sleep: 10.5-11.5 hours

Wakeful Windows:  5.5-6.5 / 5-6

Sleep needs can vary between children. These guidelines are a starting point, but follow your child’s lead to make adjustments.

Realistic Sleep Expectations

From the age of 2 until 3, the majority of toddlers still need a nap. You will notice a gradual increase in how much wakeful time your child can handle before and after their nap. Take a look at the example schedules below to see how much those slight changes can impact a one nap schedule. By 3, your child will be approaching another nap transition and later bedtimes are quite normal until they drop that nap.

Example sleep schedules for 2-3 year olds

Now that your child is taking only one nap a day, you might notice that your child sleeps best at around the same time everyday, for both nap and bedtime (give or take 15 minutes).

2 years old

5.5-6 / 5-5.5

7am

Awake for the day

12:30/1 - 2:30/3

Nap (2 hours)

7:30/8pm

Asleep for the night

3 years old

6-6.5 / 5.5-6

7am

Awake for the day

1/1:30 - 2:30/3

Nap (1.5 hours)

8/8:30pm

Asleep for the night

2 years old

7am                  Awake for the day

12:30/1pm       Nap (2 hours)

7:30pm             Asleep for the night

3 years old

7am                     Awake for the day

1/1:30pm            Nap (1.5 hours)

8/8:30pm           Asleep for the night

2-3 year

Developmental Considerations

Self-Regulation

Compared to the 17-18 month mark when your child was at a period of peak separation anxiety and legitimately needed you more to get to sleep, by 2 years of age, they are better able to self-regulate and are challenging their boundaries (totally normal and healthy behaviour!) more than needing support. Most parents find it a bit easier to keep on with the same routine at this age, but never without at least a little struggle at times.

Attachment

By the third year of life, toddlers are very aware of differences and their developing attachment to the world and those around them focuses on belonging and loyalty. It becomes important to be close to, or to be a part of something. You’ll hear a lot of “MY (fill in the blank)”s. It’s not about possession, but about belonging. You’ll see your child wanting to take sides - this is about loyalty and being on the same side as those they love.

Cognitive Development

Around the 2 year mark, toddlers will go through a significant cognitive leap where they will begin to exert their independence in many ways. Of course, as you’ve learnt over the past two years, these “progressions” tend to leave sleep feeling more like a “regression”.

Your toddler is going to want to celebrate their newfound independence, and this will start with the use of the word “No”. It will also be evident in their need to test each and every limit. Now, more than ever, will it become crucial to create loving boundaries and to STICK to them. Avoid getting into power struggles (a 2 year old will always win). Try rephrasing your own “no”s to shed more positivity on bedtime and sleep. Instead of “No, you can’t read books right now, we need to go brush your teeth”, try “As soon as you brush your teeth, we can read 3 or 4 books! And you can choose which ones!”. Instead of “No, daddy can’t stay with you anymore, it’s time to turn out the lights”, try “Daddy is so excited to see you in the morning when we both wake up, but I am so tired right now and want to go jump into my own bed”.

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The Sleep Parenting program is amazing in that it offers unparalleled support through teething, sickness, developmental leaps, travel, daylight savings, etc. The time allotted takes into account that your baby is going to change and what you're really developing are the skills to be able to respond and support your child through those challenges which lead to longer naps, better overnights and thankfully a rested and happy mama. I am so thankful.

Kate

(John's mom)