16 month old sleep schedule: Bedtime and nap schedule

Amy Bassett, BA, CLC, ALC, IBCLC, RLC / Pediatric Sleep Consultant & Lactation Consultant / Updated Jul 13, 2021
16 month old naptime and sleep 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 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


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.

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

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. It can be tempting to fall back on old habits when your child isn’t feeling well, but you want to be careful not to cause a regression in your child’s ability to sleep independently. (Though it's worth noting the 18 month sleep regression is probably on the horizon.)

We recommend offering extra cuddles while remaining committed to having your child fall to sleep (and back to sleep if they experience a night waking) on their own at sleep times. 

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 child 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 your child to make up for missed nighttime sleep during the day can perpetuate the problem. At this age, 16 month olds need an average of 2 - 3 hours of daytime sleep. 

Sample 16 month old toddler sleep schedule

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

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 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. 

It’s still common for many 16 month olds to need 2 naps per day, at least some days. If your child has transitioned to 1 nap per day, it should be a 2 - 3 hour nap in the middle of the day. 

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 bed 7:45 PM
Asleep 8:15 PM (4 hours of awake time before bedtime)
Morning rise7:00 AM
Nap12:00 PM - 2:30 PM (2.5 hour nap) 5 hours of of awake time before nap
Get ready for bed 7:30 PM
Asleep 8:00 PM (5.5 hours of awake time before bedtime)
16 month old toddler nap schedule

Toddlers thrive on routine; knowing what to expect and what comes next helps them feel confident and in control. Despite it being a popular time for separation anxiety in toddlers to appear, they are comforted most by consistency. Bedtime routines at 16 months old should be about 30 - 45 minutes long and include 5 or so activities, such as bath, brushing teeth, getting dressed, reading books, and singing a couple of their favorite songs.

However, if it’s obvious your child is overtired, you’ll want to hurry along your bedtime routine a bit to avoid unnecessary tears. Rather than skipping part of your child’s routine altogether (which could result in a tantrum), you may want to shorten bath time, or spend a little less time reading/singing than usual.

16 month olds should be getting between 11 - 12 hours of sleep per night to support the brain’s executive function and ensure proper baby development. For many families, this means bedtime is between 6:00 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?

A:

Most children who know how to fall asleep on their own will do so within 10 - 20 minutes of being laid down at night. If your child is awake and playing long after you’ve said goodnight, it could mean they weren’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?

A:

Let’s face it, sometimes things come up and we have to veer from a child’s typical schedule. If your 16 month old usually takes 1 nap per day, shift naptime an hour earlier and limit the nap to just 1 hour; giving your child the chance 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 night time 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?

A:

While some sleep sacks go up to 24 - 36 months, many toddlers will prefer to sleep without one some time after their first birthday. Thankfully, the transition away from the sleep sack is far less stressful (and potentially disruptive to sleep) 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 make dreams more vivid and even cause nightmares.

Q: How can I stop my child from sucking their thumb?

A:

Thumb sucking can be adorable when your baby is little, but as children approach 18 months, dentists advise breaking the habit. Of course, if it were easy, there wouldn’t be so many products on the market to stop it! Experts recommend correcting your child’s behavior by gently removing their hand from their mouth when you see them sucking on their thumb. At 16 months, your child may be too young to talk to about sucking their thumb, but that doesn’t mean hope is lost. 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.