24 month old / 2 year old sleep schedule: Bedtime and nap schedule
Congratulations, your baby is 2! While 2 year olds are known for their tantrums (hello, big feelings), there are SO many things to look forward to. At this age, a toddler’s imagination really flourishes, along with their vocabulary, making playtime loads of fun. Speaking of playtime, you may notice your child is beginning to show interest in playing with other children and gets excited to see friends.
By 24 months, your toddler should also be able to participate in a game of catch, walk up and down stairs while holding onto a rail, and follow simple instructions like, “go put your shoes by the door,” “please eat your apple slices,” and “please tell me exactly what buttons you pressed to permanently turn the TV to Spanish.”
Now that your child is 2, it’s time to update their schedule and ensure you’re prepared to help them through the dreaded 2 year old sleep regression. Read on to learn how much sleep your 24 month old needs, the ideal nap and bedtimes, and how to work through common sleep problems.
The recommendations listed below represent the average amount of sleep typically needed at this age. However, please note there is a range of normal as some children have lower or higher sleep needs. Your child’s schedule may vary, and that is normal.
IN THIS ARTICLE:
How much should a 2 year old sleep?
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 24 month olds need at least 11 - 14 hours of total sleep per day to promote optimal health. At Huckleberry, our pediatric sleep experts recommend aiming for at least 11 hours of nighttime sleep and 1.5 - 2.5 hours of daytime sleep to be well rested.
Just a heads-up: Every kid's sleep pattern is different and there's variation in what's normal. Although we have general guidelines for sleep hours, it's also a good idea to watch your child's mood and how energetic they feel. This can give you a better idea of what they really need in terms of sleep.
[Note: for children who were born early, we go by their adjusted age for sleep development.]
Top sleep tip for 2 year olds
If your 2 year old is suddenly struggling with sleep, fighting bedtime, refusing naps, waking up multiple times per night, waking up early, or joy of joys, all of the above, you can blame the 2 year old sleep regression. Like previous sleep regressions, these pesky disturbances to your child’s usual sleep routine can seem to come out of nowhere and leave you desperate for better sleep.
This regression is linked to developmental advances, teething, fears, separation anxiety, and the effects of newfound independence. Thankfully, it is usually short-lived and lasts just one to three weeks.
During the regression, you may feel like you’re caught in a battle of wills with your toddler. When this happens, it’s important to remain calm and consistent. Keeping in mind that this is just a phase can help you remain committed to the healthy sleep habits you’ve established. Avoid caving to your toddler’s request to sleep in your bed or have you start sitting with them as they fall asleep. Instead, examine each of the factors that may be contributing to your child’s sleep struggles, and tackle them directly.
Sleep fact for 2 year old babies
Although your child may occasionally resist naps or go on an all-out nap strike, pediatric sleep experts recommend continuing to offer a daily nap. To encourage your child to fall asleep at naptime, make sure the room is dark and cool, your child isn’t hungry, and you have a consistent naptime routine in place.
Timing is also important! At this age, you may need to experiment with the ideal awake period before a nap. While most toddlers do well with 5.5 hours of awake time between morning waking and naptime, your child may need slightly more or less awake time.
Sample 2 year old sleep schedule
Note: Sleep needs vary by child, and this chart should be viewed as an example.
Naptime schedule for a 2 year old
Most 24 month olds should still be napping once a day. At this age, 5.5 hours of awake time before a nap is ideal.
How long should a 2 year old nap?
Total daytime sleep for a 24 month old should be 1.5 - 2 hours on average. Most toddlers need between 5.5 and 6 hours of awake time between sleep periods at this age.
How many naps for a 2 year old?
Most 24 month olds should be on a one-nap schedule, with the nap occurring at midday.
|12:30 PM - 2:30 PM (2 hour nap); 5.5 hours of awake time before nap
|Get ready for bed
|8:30 PM; 6 hours of awake time before bedtime
1-nap schedule with short nap/early bedtime
|12:00 PM - 1:30 PM (1.5 hour nap); 5.5 hours of awake time before nap
|Get ready for bed
|7:30 PM; 6 hours of awake time before bedtime
Bedtime for a 2 year old
At this age, it’s very common for toddlers to test boundaries, especially at bedtime! Whether it’s wanting to read “just one more book,” running away and hiding when it’s time to put on pajamas, or throwing a temper tantrum as you put them in their crib, most parents of 2 year olds are no strangers to bedtime battles.
However, if you’re not sure the best way to handle your 2 year old’s stalling and tantrums, you’re not alone. Thankfully, the solution is to simply “stick to the plan.” Remaining firm in setting boundaries and sticking to your word is ultimately the response your child desires. When children know what to expect, they feel secure and confident in their caregivers.
What time should a 2 year old go to bed?
By 2 years of age, your child’s bedtime should be fairly consistent, although it may fluctuate slightly if your toddler takes a longer or shorter nap than usual. Bedtime for 24 month olds is generally between 6:00 and 8:00 PM and should be early enough to allow for at least 11 hours of nighttime sleep.
Can you sleep train a 2 year old?
Absolutely! As children get older, sleep training (i.e. changing the way a child falls asleep) can incorporate different techniques than the ones we use with babies. However, the idea is the same — once a kiddo learns to fall asleep with less parental help, the quantity and quality of sleep typically improve.
2 year old baby sleep FAQ
Q: How will I know when to potty train and how does this affect sleep?
While some 24 month olds are showing signs of potty training readiness, there’s no need to rush potty training. It’s best to wait until your child is ready. Signs that your child is ready to begin potty training include waking up from naps with a dry diaper, telling you when they’ve gone, hiding when they go, requesting a diaper change, pulling at a soiled diaper, and showing interest in others’ bathroom trips. Once your child appears ready, pediatric sleep experts advise first working on potty training during the day. Tip: If your child usually poops during their nap, try feeding them fruits that start with “P” for breakfast, such as peaches, pears, or prunes. This speeds up digestion, helping them poop before instead of during naptime. Once your child has mastered using the potty during awake times, they’ll be prepared to practice overnight.
Q: What’s the best way to wean from the pacifier at sleep times?
While gradually weaning from the pacifier overnight may be the best approach for babies, going “cold turkey” works better for toddlers who still depend on a pacifier to fall asleep. But this doesn’t mean you have to wean from the pacifier without warning. At this age, positive talk with your child about losing the pacifier can help them prepare for the transition and even do it willingly! One way to help your child accept giving up the pacifier is to suggest they “donate” their old pacifiers to babies who need them. Many children will enjoy helping you collect all the pacifiers and gift wrapping them before setting them on the doorstep for collection. To sweeten the deal and reward your toddler’s kindness, consider surprising them with a new toy. When bedtime rolls around, if your child still struggles without the pacifier, we encourage suggesting other ways they can seek comfort at bedtime. It may be helpful to have this discussion with your child before giving away the paci. A popular idea is to suggest your child snuggle with their lovey or “tuck in” their favorite stuffed animal as the final part of their bedtime routine.
Q: My toddler snores during their sleep. Should I be concerned?
While mild or infrequent snoring isn’t typically something to worry about, there are some cases where snoring is a symptom of another health condition, such as enlarged tonsils or obstructive sleep apnea. We recommend discussing any concerns about snoring with your child’s pediatrician, especially if you notice an increase in the frequency or severity or your child has long pauses in breathing during sleep.
Q: After returning from vacation, my child is waking up frequently at night. How can we eliminate night wakings?
Just like you may need several days to readjust to life as usual upon returning home, your toddler may need some time, too. For the first several days after vacation, limit late afternoon/evening activities, and allow your child to take it easy. To help your child get back on track and catch up on any missed sleep, consider shifting bedtime earlier for the first week as well. If your child wakes overnight, resist the urge to “rush in.” Instead, sit back and wait at least 5 - 10 minutes for your child to fall back to sleep on their own.
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.