20 month old sleep schedule: Bedtime and nap schedule

Amber LoRe - Sleep Consultant / Pediatric sleep consultant / Updated Nov 30, 2021
20 month old sleep schedule

Is your 20 month old’s bedtime later than you feel it should be at this age? As your toddler gets closer to 2 years of age, you’ll find that their wake windows are lengthening. As a result, it’s common for bedtime to get later, which can be surprising - and let’s face it, sometimes tough - if you’ve started to enjoy your kid-free evening hours.


At 20 months old, continue to aim for at least 13 hours of total sleep per day (11 - 12 hours at night and 2 - 3 hours of day sleep in 1 nap). Most children need 5 - 5.75 hours of awake time in between sleep periods at this age.

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

As toddlers gain more independence, you may find they start taking a looong time making choices. They want to do everything themselves! (Regardless of, you know, actual capabilities at this age.) If you find that your toddler is stalling during your bedtime routine, it can help to offer definitive choices. Consider options like, “Do you want to wear the red pajamas or the blue ones?” or, “Would you like to brush your teeth or wash your face first?” This can help children feel in control while also ensuring more cooperation at bedtime.

Some toddlers this age will suddenly start to protest at bedtime due to separation anxiety rearing its head again. Consider experimenting with leaving their bedroom door open, or introducing a night light. These measures can help make your toddler feel more secure at bedtime, while still maintaining healthy independent sleep habits (a.k.a. you don’t have to spend an hour trying to silently creep out of their room after helping them fall asleep).

20 Month Sleep Schedule sample

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

A typical naptime schedule for 20 months old should include a nap in the middle of the day approximately 5 hours after waking for the day. If you’d like a more predictable nap schedule, consider waking your child within the same 30 minute window each day.

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A 20 month old's nap schedule should allow for 2 - 3 hours of day sleep during 1 nap. Most toddlers need between 5 - 5.75 hours of awake time in between sleep periods at this age.

Aim for 1 midday nap, with naptime typically 5 hours after waking in the morning. Be sure to offer lunch before the nap, so your toddler doesn’t wake up early because they’re hungry. 

If your child is struggling to make it to bedtime without becoming overtired, consider moving bedtime earlier (but no earlier than 6:00 PM).

Here are some examples of what your day may look like at this age:

Morning rise7:00 AM
Nap12:00 PM - 2:00 PM (2 hour nap) 5 hours awake time before nap
Get ready for bed7:00 PM
Asleep7:45 PM 5.75 hours awake time before bedtime
Morning rise7:00 AM
Nap12:00 PM - 1:30 PM (1.5 hour nap) 5 hours awake time before nap
Get ready for bed6:30 PM
Asleep7:15 PM 5.75 hours awake time before bedtime
20 month old sleep schedule

If your toddler is struggling to fall asleep at bedtime, consider whether the awake period between nap and bedtime is age-appropriate. Insufficient awake time before bed often leads to lots of playtime in the crib before eventually falling asleep, whereas overtired toddlers are more likely to cry.

Ideally, your 20 month old will be getting 11 - 12 hours of sleep at night, so bedtime should be about 12 - 13 hours after waking in the morning (as long as your child naps well). If your toddler takes a short nap, offer an earlier bedtime in order to limit overtiredness, which often leads to shortened nighttime sleep.

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20 month old baby sleep FAQ

Q: Why is my 20 month old suddenly waking so early?


A sudden change in waking time is often a sign that your toddler’s schedule needs to be adjusted. Not all children can easily go 12 or more hours between meals, so one thing to investigate is if dinner is too early. For example, if dinner is at 5:00 PM, you might find your child waking at 5:00 AM. If dinner has to be that early, try offering a protein-rich snack closer to bedtime (but before teeth brushing). You can also consider whether the last wake window is age appropriate (usually around 5.75 hours at this age). If the awake time is too short, or too long, that can contribute to early rising.

Q: Can a 20 month old baby sleep through the night?


Good news - most toddlers this age are capable of sleeping through the night without parental assistance or feedings. If your toddler has strong independent sleeping skills and gets enough calories throughout the day, they’re more likely to sleep 11 - 12 hours without calling out for your assistance.

Q: How often do 20 month old babies sleep?


You’ll want to keep wake windows between 5 - 5.75 hours long when establishing your 20 month old’s sleep schedule. Generally, toddlers will stay awake for about 5 hours in the morning before their first nap, and up to 5.75 hours before bedtime.

Q: How much nighttime sleep for a 20 month old is appropriate?


Most 20 month old toddlers need 11 - 12 hours of nighttime sleep to be well-rested. However, sleep needs do vary. If your toddler has lower sleep needs than the average 13 hours of total sleep, pediatric sleep experts agree that you’ll want to ensure that they get a minimum of 10 hours of nighttime sleep.

Q: How much awake time for a 20 month old is appropriate?


The ideal wake window for 20 month olds tends to be between 5 - 5.75 hours long. Generally, the first wake window of the day is the shortest, so expect that your toddler will need about 5 hours of awake time before their nap. As the day progresses, your toddler will be able to stay awake longer, resulting in the longest window of awake time before bed, lasting no more than 5.75 hours.

Q: How much daytime sleep for a 20 month old?


Aim for 1 nap per day. Target 2 - 3 hours of day sleep for your 20 month old’s nap schedule.

Q: Is there a 20 month regression?


While there isn’t a specific developmental regression that’s common at 20 months (thank goodness), sleep regressions can occur at any age. When sleep habits change due to travel, illness, or other life circumstances (such as a new sibling or a move), even the best little sleepers can have trouble. Stick to your routines and healthy independent sleep habits, and repeat after us: This too shall pass.