Understanding the Importance of Bedtime for Toddlers
There are many factors that parents use to determine bedtime for their toddler. What time do we get home from work? Does your toddler go to daycare or preschool? Deciding a bedtime can seem like a lot of guess work and most often bedtime ends up varying from day to day. Your toddler’s body knows when it wants to go to bed and if we miss that sleepy window it can cause more trouble falling asleep. Being consistent with bedtime is one of the best ways to ensure your toddler goes to bed peacefully and sleeps well all night long.
Factors to Consider When Establishing Bedtime
- Total Sleep Needs
On average, a 2-year-old requires about 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day, including naps. A 1.5-2 hour nap is a good average for this age, more than 2 hours of naptime may affect night sleep.
- Wake-Up Time
Consider what time your toddler needs to wake up in the morning. If your child typically rises at 7:00 AM, work backward for 11-12 hours. This can help you establish an appropriate bedtime. Aim for a consistent wake-up time to regulate their internal clock.
Sample Bedtime Schedule for a 2-Year-Old
7:00 AM – Wake Up
A consistent wake-up time helps set the tone for the day and regulates your toddler’s sleep-wake cycle.
12:30 PM – Afternoon Nap (1 to 2 hours)
Plan the afternoon nap to avoid interfering with bedtime. This nap contributes to the total daily sleep requirement.
7:00 PM – Bedtime Routine Begins
Toddlers need transition time. Build in a 20-30 minute bedtime routine to help them wind down at the end of the day. Much longer than 30 minutes and they will lose track of what the objective is. A good bedtime routine can include:
- In bed and hug goodnight
- Lights out/sound machine on
7:30 PM – Say Goodnight
Between 6:30-7:30 pm is an ideal bedtime for toddlers. Any earlier and you may fight early wakings, any later and you run the risk of your toddler being overtired and fighting bedtime.
Adjusting Bedtime for Individual Needs
It can be tempting to adjust your toddler’s schedule to fit yours, and sometimes we just have to make exceptions. But truthfully their mood, growth and health will benefit so greatly from an age-appropriate bedtime that it’s well worth your effort to keep to the schedule as much as possible.