In the first two years of life, a child’s need for sleep is constantly evolving, often more quickly than we’re prepared for! By about the age of 12-18 months, most children have dropped from two-day sleeps down to one. There is huge individual variation in what happens next, but eventually all parents will face the same questions – do the little ones still need a day-sleep? How do we manage the transition?
You are a better judge than your child as to whether they still need that sleep to get them through the day, however you’ve probably noticed that there’s not much you can do about it if they refuse to lay down their little heads. A flexible and relaxed attitude is a great help through this period as both their need for sleep, and what ‘works’ to get them there, may change frequently. Think of yourself as someone who sets the stage for rest, rather than someone who can make sleep happen. Otherwise, you and your toddler may end up very frustrated with the whole process! These tips might also help;
- Every child is different – some still manage a three-hour nap at three years old, others no more than one hour at 18 months. As long as they have energy to last the day and still get a full night’s sleep, then all is well.
- Even if they don’t want to sleep, a rest in the middle of the day is essential – for parents too! Create a habit of quiet time in bed or on the couch, where books, music, or stories on CD are all that’s allowed. If they are tired enough, they’ll fall asleep if the conditions are right.
- Experiment with timing – if they resist a nap at 12.30pm, then try 1.30pm. But if it starts to impact on their ability to settle at night, then you may need to wake them from the day-sleep a little earlier than usual.
- Now that they’re older and more aware, they may need some help to block out daytime noise and light. Blackout blinds and soft music or white noise on CD could all help.