Sleep for toddlers

​​​​​​​​How much sleep a toddler needs

​There is a wide variation in the amount of time toddlers sleep. Generally, 10-13 hours of sleep a day is normal for a toddler. Most toddlers are ready for bed between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm.

Some toddlers will sleep through the night. Many still wake once or twice, and some wake more often. Most toddlers have at least one sleep during the day, usually after lunch.​

How to settle a toddler​

Getting toddlers to settle and getting them into bed can be difficult.

To settle a toddler to help them sleep, you can try the following:

  • Take the toddler to where they usually sleep.
  • Introduce quiet time before bed which might include a gentle cuddle, a story or a quiet song.
  • Talk quietly to the toddler.
  • Put toys away and remove things that will distract or excite your toddler.
  • Make sure the bedroom is a quiet and calming space.
  • Talk about what they are doing and what will happen next.

Establishing a sleep routine

While each child will be different, a sleeping routine can help to make bedtime easier.

To make a bedtime routine that works, plan it so each step will help your child get ready for bed in a pleasant way, without distractions. Allow about 20 minutes.

The important thing is to work out what works for your toddler and the family, and do it over and over, until everybody, including your toddler, knows what‘s going to happen and looks forward to it (or at least accepts it). Try not to skip or re-order the steps once you have them in place.

Things you might like to include in your plan might be: brushing teeth and going to the toilet or having a nappy change, saying goodnight to everyone, having a quiet play near bed, sharing a bedtime story, having a cuddle and kiss, then tucking in and lights out, or switch to night light.

What to do if your toddler wakes frequently

It is common for toddlers to wake up many times during the night. While some children will fall back to sleep own their own, others will cry out and need help to resettle back to sleep.

If your child calls out in the night, it might be because they need something – like a nappy change or reassurance there are no monsters in the wardrobe. If night-waking continues, it can be very tiring for both children and parents. Try these tips:

  1. Remember to keep a consistent and calm bedtime routine.
  2. Put your child into their cot when they are awake to help them learn how to settle themselves to sleep.
  3. Gradually reduce or stop sleep associations (like patting children until they fall asleep) if this seems to be causing the problem.