16 month old sleep schedule: Bedtime and nap schedule
At 16 months, your busy toddler has mastered many gross motor skills, including walking, running, and jumping! With so much activity throughout the day, it’s important that your child is getting enough sleep in both the day and night to properly “recharge.” Curious just how much sleep your child needs and what an ideal schedule looks like at this age? Read on to learn more about your child’s sleep needs, including recommended naptime and bedtime for 16 month olds.
IN THIS ARTICLE:
How much should a 16 month old sleep?
Most 16 month olds need approximately 13 - 14 hours of total sleep per day to be sufficiently rested. Pediatric sleep experts recommend aiming for at least 11 hours of nighttime sleep and 2 - 3 hours of daytime sleep between 1 or 2 naps.
Each child is unique, and sleep needs do vary. Don't get caught up on hitting exact sleep hour targets — the suggested hours are just a rough guide. Paying attention to your toddler's mood and energy levels is just as key as keeping track of their sleep, to ensure they're getting the rest they require.
[Note: for children who were born early, we go by their adjusted age for sleep development.]
Top sleep tip for 16 month olds
16 months is a common age for children to get their first molars. Due to their size and the additional time they take to come through the gums, emerging molars can be more painful for children than other baby teeth. During this time, you may find your toddler needs more comforting, especially at night. To reduce pain and inflammation caused by teething, consider feeding your child frozen treats such as blueberries or homemade milk “popsicles” before bed.
Sleep fact for 16 month old babies
Too much daytime sleep can be disastrous for your 16 month old’s nighttime sleep. If your child is experiencing sustained night wakings, waking very early, or struggling to fall asleep at bedtime, too much daytime sleep could be the culprit.
If your toddler routinely stays awake for an hour or more in the middle of the night, it makes sense that you’d want to help them “catch up” on missed sleep; the same goes for children who struggle with early morning wakings.
Unfortunately, allowing more daytime sleep to make up for missed nighttime sleep can perpetuate the problem. At this age, 16 month olds need an average of 2 - 3 hours of daytime sleep.
Sample 16 month old sleep schedule
Note: Sleep needs vary by child and this chart should be viewed as an example.
Naptime schedule for a 16 month old
Nap schedules often vary at this age since some 16 month olds are taking just 1 nap per day, and others are still on a 2-nap schedule. For children that have transitioned to 1 nap, we hope to see about 5 hours of awake time before the nap. A typical nap schedule for 16 month olds who are taking 2 naps per day should be based on approximately 3.25 hours of awake time before their morning nap and 3.5 hours between the first and second naps.
How long should a 16 month old nap?
Total daytime sleep should be 2 - 3 hours for 16 month olds. When taking 2 naps, we like to see total daytime sleep split pretty evenly between both naps, with each nap lasting at least an hour.
How many naps for a 16 month old?
It’s still common for many 16 month olds to need 2 naps per day, at least some days. If your toddler has transitioned to 1 nap per day, it should be a 2 - 3 hour nap in the middle of the day that leaves at least 5.5 hours of awake time before being tucked in for the night.
|10:15 AM - 11:30 AM (1.25 hour nap); 3.25 hours of awake time before 1st nap
|3:15 PM - 4:15 PM (1 hour nap); 3.75 hours of awake time before 2nd nap
|Get ready for bed
|8:15 PM; 4 hours of awake time before bedtime
|12:00 PM - 2:30 PM (2.5 hour nap); 5 hours of of awake time before nap
|Get ready for bed
|8:00 PM; 5.5 hours of awake time before bedtime
Bedtime for a 16 month old
Toddlers thrive on routine. Knowing what to expect and what comes next helps them feel confident and in control. Bedtime routines have been shown to improve sleep and reduce night wakings. At this age, routines should be about 30 - 45 minutes long and include 5 or so calming routine activities, such as bath, brushing teeth, getting dressed, reading books, and singing a couple of your child’s favorite songs.
However, if it’s obvious your child is overtired, you’ll want to quietly shorten their bedtime routine a bit to avoid unnecessary upset and tears. Rather than skipping parts of your child’s routine altogether (which could result in a tantrum and problems settling to sleep), you may want to shorten bath time or spend a little less time reading/singing than usual.
What time should a 16 month old go to bed?
16 month olds should be getting between 11 - 12 hours of sleep per night to support the brain’s executive function and ensure proper emotional and intellectual development. For many families, this means bedtime is between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM. We tend to see slightly later bedtimes for 16 month olds who are on a 2-nap schedule and earlier bedtimes once they’ve completed the transition to just 1 nap.
16 month old baby sleep FAQ
Q: My child sometimes plays or talks to themselves for up to an hour before falling asleep at night - is this normal?
Most children who know how to fall asleep on their own will do so within 10 - 20 minutes of being laid down in bed at night. If your child is awake and playing long after you’ve said goodnight, it could mean your child wasn’t sufficiently tired at bedtime. At this age, most children need at least 4 hours of awake time before bed. You can experiment with putting your child to bed slightly later each night until you find their sweet spot. Another explanation for lots of chatter and playtime before falling asleep could be distractions in their environment. Darkening the room and removing any toys from your child’s crib can cut down on the time it takes them to fall asleep.
Q: We have an event to go to this weekend and won’t be home at my child’s usual bedtime; what can we do?
Let’s face it, sometimes things come up, and we have to veer from a child’s typical schedule. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for parents to worry about how the disruption to their child’s schedule will affect their sleep, especially when they’ve worked hard to develop healthy sleep habits. With a little advanced planning, you may be able to enjoy your night out and ensure your child’s sleep doesn’t suffer as a consequence. If your 16 month old usually takes 1 nap per day, you can shift naptime an hour earlier and limit the nap to just 1 hour; allowing your child the opportunity for a second nap about 4 hours later. This technique can help balance out your child’s day, so they can tolerate the additional awake time before bed without melting down. If total nighttime sleep is less than 11 hours due to the event, consider shifting bedtime 30 minutes earlier for the next few nights to help your child catch up on missed sleep.
Q: When should we transition out of the sleep sack and into pajamas?
While some sleep sacks go up to 24 - 36 months, many toddlers will prefer to sleep without one sometime after their first birthday. Thankfully, the transition away from the sleep sack is far less stressful (and potentially disruptive to sleep) as compared to weaning from the swaddle. When you’re ready, it can be fun to involve your child in picking out their new pajamas. Be sure to choose pajamas intended for the climate you live in and avoid dressing your child too warmly since being too hot can negatively affect sleep, make dreams more vivid, and even cause nightmares.
Q: How can I stop my child from sucking their thumb?
Thumb sucking can be downright adorable when your baby is little, but as children approach 18 months, dentists advise breaking the habit. Of course, if teaching your child how to stop sucking their thumb was easy, there wouldn’t be so many products on the market to stop the habit! At 16 months, your child may be too young to talk to about sucking their thumb, but that doesn’t mean hope is lost. Experts recommend correcting your child’s behavior by gently removing their hand from their mouth when you see them sucking on their thumb. Additionally, it can be helpful to distract and redirect your child by offering a toy or book when you take their hand away from their mouth. If your child sucks their thumb while sleeping, introducing a lovey or textured blanket can help them self-soothe without sucking.
Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.