15 month old sleep schedule: bedtime and nap schedule

Amy Bassett, BA, CLC, ALC, IBCLC, RLC / Pediatric Sleep Consultant & Lactation Consultant / Updated Jul 22, 2021
15 month old naptime and sleep schedule

At this age, there are lots of transitions. Your child is kind of a baby, and kind of a toddler. Many 15 month olds tend to be in a state of transition with sleep - sometimes needing two naps, and sometimes one nap. It can drive you a bit bonkers figuring out whether it’s going to be a one nap or two nap day, since it may depend on how your child slept overnight, what time they woke up, and how long the first nap was! Read on to learn what you can do to help your child through this transition and establish healthy sleep habits.


IN THIS ARTICLE


At this age, we recommend aiming for at least 13 hours of total sleep over a 24 hour period, with a minimum of 11 hours at night, and 2 - 3 hours during the day, split between 1 or 2 naps.

[Note: for children who were born early, we go by their adjusted age for sleep development.]

It’s not uncommon for 15 month olds to be a bit overtired during the transition from two naps to just one. As children drop the second nap, some will nap less than the recommended 2 - 3 hours during the remaining nap.

When total daytime sleep is less than ideal (2 - 3 hours), it’s best to offer an early bedtime (but no earlier than 12 hours before your desired morning wake up time). It can take a few weeks for the remaining nap to lengthen, so hang in there!

If your child is struggling to fall asleep at nighttime, or waking up early, ill-timed exposure to light could be to blame. Light entering your child’s eyes sets their circadian rhythm, or body clock, signaling their body to decrease melatonin levels.

To help your child get on a more predictable schedule, wake them within 30 minutes of your desired wake-up time every day (even if it was a rough night), and be intentional about light exposure. Start your child’s day with bright light upon waking, and get outside during the day when possible.

Pediatric sleep and baby development experts also recommend avoiding screen time in the hour before bed. Electronic devices such as TVs, tablets, and phones emit blue light, which interferes with melatonin production, making it difficult to fall asleep. 

15 month old sample toddler sleep schedule

Note: Sleep needs vary by child and this chart should be viewed as an example.

15 month olds who have transitioned to a one nap schedule will need between 5 - 5.5 hours of awake time before their nap in order to be tired, but not too tired. 15 month olds who are taking two naps per day sleep best with about 3.25 hours of awake time before the first nap, and about 3.75 hours of awake time before their afternoon nap.

At 15 months, we hope to see between 2 - 3 hours of total daytime sleep. For children who haven’t yet transitioned to one nap per day, it’s helpful to limit the first nap to 90 minutes.

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By 15 months old, some children have outgrown the 2-nap schedule, leaving just 1 nap around lunchtime. Other toddlers this age still need 2 naps per day. It’s also not uncommon for the number of naps to vary from day to day at 15 months; some days will be 2-nap days, while others will be a 1-nap day.

By 18 months, your child should typically complete the transition to a 1-nap schedule, but there’s no need to rush it. Signs that your child is ready to drop a nap include very short naps, resisting 1 or both naps, or consistently sleeping less than 10 hours a night.

Morning rise7:00 AM
1st nap10:15 AM - 11:30 AM (1.25 hour nap) 3.25 hours of awake time before 1st nap
2nd nap3:15 PM - 4:15 PM (1 hour nap) 3.75 hours of awake time before 2nd nap
Get ready for bed7:45 PM
Asleep8:15 PM 4 hours of awake time before bedtime
Morning rise 7:00 AM
Nap12:00 PM - 2:30 PM (2.5 hour nap) 5 hours of of awake time before nap
Get ready for bed7:30 PM
Asleep8:00 PM 5.5 hours of awake time before bedtime
15 month old bedtime

15 months is such a fun age, with lots of laughs, and what can seem like boundless energy! As bedtime approaches, you may notice your child becoming even more “energetic,” however, hyperactivity is actually a sign of being overtired.

To avoid bedtime meltdowns related to overtiredness, we recommend keeping a close eye on the clock, and ensuring you’ve factored in sufficient wind-down time for your child before bed. Try to make the hour before bedtime calm and relaxing, with more exciting play occurring earlier in the day.

For example, your child’s nightly bedtime routine can include a warm bath, massage, changing into sleep clothes, and cuddling up for story time and songs. At this age, we expect it to take 10 - 20 minutes (on average) for children to fall asleep.

You’ll want to base bedtime on how long your child has been awake, along with your desired wake-up time. At this age, the goal is for at least 11 hours of nighttime sleep. If your desired wake-up time is 6:30 AM, your 15 month old’s bedtime should be 7:30 PM. However, if it was a short nap day, you may want to offer an early bedtime to avoid overtiredness and ensure your child gets enough sleep.

15 month old baby sleep FAQ

Q: Is there a 15 month sleep regression?

A:

You may already be familiar with the more commonly known sleep regressions, typically around 4 and 8 months, but some parents are surprised to learn that toddlers can experience sleep regressions, too. At 15 months, some children are beginning to feel the effects of the upcoming “18 month sleep regression," which can result in sudden night wakings. However, if naps are the area of concern, you’re likely feeling the effects of the nap transition. During this transition, it’s not uncommon for 15 month olds to take short naps, or fight them entirely.

Q: My child only naps once at daycare, and then typically falls asleep in the car on the ride home; what can I do?

A:

Many daycares transition children to a 1-nap schedule when they move to the toddler room, even though not all 15 month olds are ready to drop a nap. We understand how difficult it can make evenings when your child falls asleep on the car ride home from daycare, and wakes up 10 - 15 minutes later super fussy! Worst of all, these dreaded catnaps can sometimes throw off bedtime, so it’s best to avoid them whenever possible. To help your child stay awake in the car, you might try playing upbeat children’s songs and singing out loud (interactive songs such as “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” and “Old McDonald” are especially engaging). Another tip is to keep your child busy by putting cereal (or another dry snack) in a container where your child has to reach through the lid to get them out. When weather permits, rolling down the car window can help as well.

Q: My child often wakes up 45 minutes after falling asleep at bedtime; how do I put a stop to these night wakings?

A:

Sometimes children will treat the first part of night sleep as a nap, waking up less than an hour after falling asleep. If this sounds familiar, the first thing you’ll want to consider is how your child is falling to sleep at bedtime. If your child is falling to sleep during a feeding, while being rocked/held, or with a parent in the room, it is not uncommon for them to wake up fully between sleep cycles and need help falling back asleep. In this case, you’ll want to begin weaning away from parent-dependent sleep associations. If your child already falls to sleep on their own, consider if they may be going to bed too late or too early, since both under-tiredness and overtiredness can result in night wakings.

Created Jun 14 2021