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Sometimes it seems like babies and young children grow up in the blink of an eye. They leave behind one skill and gain another as fast as you can get out your camera. While they are growing, their sleep needs change too. Your three naps-per-day infant grows quickly into a one-nap toddler, and gradually shifts towards getting all of their sleep overnight. It can be hard to keep up with schedules when they are always changing, so we have put together a handy list of sample schedules for each age group. These are the same schedules you can find in your pediatrician’s office, courtesy of The Sleep Lady.
AAP and NSF recently came out with new sleep average recommendations, however they group night and day sleep together. As a result we have separated naps and night sleep and shared the averages in these articles. Please know that there is always at least one hour wiggle room on these averages. Watch your clock AND your child to determine where you child falls within the average.
Sleep Schedules – Your Six to Nine-Month-Old
At around 6 months, babies need an average of eleven hours of uninterrupted nighttime sleep, and three and a half hours of daytime naps spread over two to three naps. From six through eight months, babies become more mobile. They roll over, sit up, maybe even stand holding on to something. Many scoot or crawl, and the first teeth come in. Most babies sleep through the night fairly regularly, but if yours doesn’t, it is still quite easy to get them on a good 6 month sleep schedule.
Sleep Schedules – Your Nine to Twelve-Month-Old
Nine to twelve-month-old babies are reaching developmental milestones at an amazing rate. These babies are more mobile, crawling and pulling themselves up in their cribs, and can pop up each time you put them down at bedtime. Some walk by their first birthday—a major developmental milestone that can temporarily disrupt sleep. Increased activity can tire them out, so you have to pay very close attention to their sleep window, when they are most ready and able to fall asleep. Some can even fight sleep, and hide their sleep cues making it easy to miss that ideal sleep window.
Sleep Schedules – Your Thirteen to Eighteen-Month-Old
At this age toddlers need an average of eleven and a quarter hours of uninterrupted sleep at night and two and a quarter to two and a half hours during the day. Children at the younger end of this age bracket take two naps, in the morning and afternoon, but by eighteen months most consolidate to one midday or afternoon nap. The thirteen to eighteen month old schedule has to work in that nap transition while also considering the complicated development that can cause sleep problems.
Sleep Schedules – Your Eighteen Month to Two-and-a-Half-Year-Old
How much sleep do toddlers need? That is a question that has many answers, and it depends on the age of the toddler. An eighteen month old on average sleeps eleven and a quarter hours at night and two and a quarter hours during one midday or afternoon nap. At age two, sleep requirements drop to eleven hours at night and two during the day. Over the next year that will drop to ten and a half hours at night and one and a half during the day.
Sleep Schedules – Your Two-and-a-Half to Five-Year-Old
Between ages two and three, average sleep needs drop to about ten and a half hours a night, plus an hour-and-a-half afternoon nap. Four year olds need eleven and a half hours at night, and most no longer nap daily, although they do need about forty-five minutes of quiet time each afternoon and possibly an occasional nap. Five-year-olds sleep about eleven hours a night, and afternoon quiet time is still beneficial.
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Featured Contributor: Kim West, LCSW-C The Sleep Lady
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years. She is now the world’s foremost expert on child behavioral sleep and on a mission to help 1,000,000 families find sleep by 2020. With trained Gentle Sleep Coaches® (19 countries worldwide), free articles and guides, e-courses, and the bestselling book Good Night, Sleep Tight — tens of thousands of families from all over the world have found sleep again with The Sleep Lady’s gentle, proven sleep methods.
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