22 month old sleep schedule: Bedtime and nap schedule

Amy Bassett, BA, CLC, ALC, IBCLC, RLC / Pediatric Sleep Consultant & Lactation Consultant / Updated Aug 27, 2021
22 month old sleep schedule

Silly, spunky, and spontaneous are all very fitting descriptions for your 22 month old! At this age, you may notice your toddler trying out new tricks like skipping, kicking a ball, balancing on one foot, or even walking backward. In addition to an explosion in gross motor skills, 22 month olds are also building their vocabulary at an impressive pace.

At this age, many toddlers know at least 100 words and can speak in short sentences. Whether it’s time to get dressed or load up in the car, one phrase you might hear often is, “I do it!” This desire for independence is a natural part of baby development and allows your child to practice problem-solving skills. Ensuring your child is well-rested will help them have the patience and energy to succeed.

Read on to learn just how much sleep your 22 month old needs, and how to overcome common issues like bedtime battles, skipped naps, and night terrors. (Yay!)


IN THIS ARTICLE


22 month olds need at least 12.5 hours of total sleep per day to be sufficiently rested. Pediatric sleep experts recommend aiming for at least 11 hours of nighttime sleep, and 1.5 - 2.5 hours of daytime sleep.

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

Some 22 month olds may occasionally experience nightmares or night terrors.  There are a few key differences between the two: Nightmares usually occur more than 3 hours after your child has fallen asleep, and are often triggered by fears your child may have about things like monsters, the dark, or thunderstorms. Night terrors happen earlier in the night, usually 1 - 2 hours after falling asleep, and occur when a child doesn’t make the transition between sleep stages properly. 

When children experience a nightmare, they may whimper in their sleep, or cry out softly. Children experiencing a nightmare can be woken up and are easily consoled. During a night terror, your child may shout or thrash in their sleep. Although it’s terrifying to witness a night terror, there’s no need to wake them. In the morning, your child will have no memory of the night terror, whereas they’re usually able to recall bad dreams.

Night terrors are linked to poor sleep habits and are often triggered by not getting enough sleep, or staying awake too long before sleeping (overtiredness). In this case, it’s important to evaluate your child’s sleep schedule and make adjustments, like encouraging a daily nap and moving bedtime earlier.

If nightmares are the problem, it can help to talk to your child about their fears and come up with creative ways to help them overcome them. For example, if your child is afraid of monsters, you might have them help you spritz their bedroom with “monster spray” (water) before bed. At this age, some toddlers may also prefer to sleep with a nightlight, or with their door open.

At 22 months, your child cycles through two types of sleep throughout the night, light (REM), and deep sleep, with each sleep cycle usually lasting 45 - 60 minutes. With such short sleep cycles, it’s important that your child knows how to make the transition between sleep cycles. 

Between sleep cycles your child may enter a very light sleep, or wake up briefly before falling back asleep. Toddlers who are able to fall asleep independently at bedtime and are well-rested typically manage these transitions easily, and don’t wake up crying between sleep cycles. Children spend approximately 25% of the night in light (REM) sleep, the stage where dreaming occurs. The remaining 75% of nighttime sleep is spent in deep sleep. During deep sleep, essential hormones for growth and development are released, energy is restored, and blood supply to muscles is increased.

22 Month Sleep Schedule Sample

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

22 month olds should still be napping once a day. At this age, 5.25 hours of awake time before nap is ideal.

Total daytime sleep should be 1.5 - 2.5 hours on average. If your child is fighting naptime, continue offering them quiet time in their crib or sleep space every day. At its best, it’s giving them time to rest and recharge, and hopefully they manage to fall asleep. At its worst, it’s good for them to develop their independent play habits, and can provide a much-needed break for you!

22 month olds should be on a 1-nap schedule with the nap occurring midday. 

Morning rise7:30 AM
Nap12:45 PM - 2:45 PM (2 hour nap) 5.25 hours awake time before nap
Get ready for bed7:45 PM
Asleep8:30 PM 5.75 hours awake time before bedtime
Morning rise6:30 AM
Nap11:45 AM - 1:15 PM (1.5 hour nap) 5.25 hours awake time before nap
Get ready for bed6:15 PM
Asleep7:00 PM 5.75 hours awake time before bedtime
22 month old sleep schedule

After a busy day spent playing and learning, it’s important that your toddler has time to relax and unwind before bed. About an hour before bed you can help your child know sleep is on the horizon by dimming the lights, putting away stimulating toys, and turning off screens. 

A nightly bath can also help prepare your child for sleep. According to pediatric sleep experts, a warm bath in the hour before bed increases blood flow, aiding the circadian process and helping toddlers fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer - we’d call that a win. After bath, lead your child through a consistent bedtime routine ending with them in bed awake.

Bedtime for your 22 month old should be early enough to allow for at least 11 hours of sleep overnight. At this age, toddlers need approximately 5.75 hours of awake time between nap and bedtime, with most 22 months going to sleep between 6:00 and 8:00 PM.

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22 month old baby sleep FAQ

Q: At what age should we transition to a toddler bed?

A:

If you’re considering transitioning your child to a toddler bed soon, you may want to hold off a little longer. It’s best to wait to transition your child out of their crib and into a toddler bed until they’re at least 3.  At 22 months old, toddlers lack impulse control and may have difficulty staying in bed once the crib rails come down. Getting out of bed frequently can be especially problematic if your child is experiencing separation anxiety, going through a sleep regression, or our personal favorite: stalling at bedtime.

Q: My child wakes up from naps cranky, is this normal?

A:

At this age, many toddlers sleep hard during naps and wake up cranky or clingy. Assuming your child is taking a sufficient nap of at least 90 minutes, they may just need a little time to fully wake up after a nap. If they’re not crying, consider giving them 5 - 10 minutes in bed before getting them up from a nap. Additionally, it can be helpful to spend a few minutes cuddling or rocking your child in their room before switching gears.

Q: My toddler sometimes bangs their head or rocks their body in bed before falling asleep. Should I be concerned?

A:

Children engage in many different forms of self-settling; some common behaviors include playing with their hair, stroking a lovey, repeatedly plopping down in bed, and even body rocking or head-banging. While the first few examples make more sense, children engage in body-rocking and head-banging because it’s rhythmic and they find it comforting. Often we’re not able to stop this behavior and giving it attention can actually make matters worse as they discover it’s a good way to get a reaction. Consider if you’re putting your child down too early since boredom can exacerbate these behaviors. To reduce the risk of injury, experts suggest moving your child’s bed away from the wall. Additionally, you may find padded crib rail covers to be helpful.

Q: Is it true that there are foods that can help a child sleep?

A:

Possibly! Eating foods rich in protein, melatonin, and tryptophan, such as those listed below, may help support better overnight sleep. Try serving one or two of these foods with your toddler's last meal of the day: Milk and cheese; oatmeal; turkey, chicken, and canned tuna; nuts and seeds (particularly pistachios); kiwi, bananas, cherries, and tomatoes. The timing of your child’s last meal is also important. If dinner’s on the early side (more than 90 minutes before bedtime), consider offering a snack approximately an hour before bed. Keep the snack small and serve a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat to keep them full until morning.