Babies need a lot of sleep, but the amount of sleep depends on their age. A newborn is going to have different sleep needs than a 6-month-old, a 6-month-old is going to have different sleep needs than a 12-month-old. . . you get the idea. If your baby is on the older side, you might be wondering just what the best sleep schedule for 12- to 18-month-olds is.
According to BabyCenter, establishing healthy sleep habits for 12- to 18-month-olds is very important. Although your baby is officially a toddler at this age, it is important to note that they still need as much sleep as when they were younger. Typically, your child needs 14 hours a day, with 11 of those hours happening at night and the rest happening during naps. The other thing to know is that your child will typically transition from two naps to one nap during this age, and that nap schedule will typically last until they are 4 or 5 years old.
"At some point during the 12 to 18 month range most babies make the transition to one nap a day," Lauren Stauffer, a Family Sleep Institute-certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and owner of Well Rested Baby, tells Romper.
If you are looking to help your baby transition to a new sleep schedule, there are a few things to keep in mind — primarily that their days need to be consistent.
"The most important thing parents can do is to be consistent," Christine Stevens, MBA, aCertified Sleep Coach, writer, and founder of Sleepy Tots Consulting, tells Romper. "Put your child down for naps and to bed for the night at the same time every day. It may take some time to figure out the ideal time to put baby to sleep, so look for their sleepy cues such as rubbing eyes, getting fussy and yawning, an indicator that baby needs sleep."
Other great ways to help transition your baby to their ideal sleep schedule is to establish a sense of routine every night as you put your child to bed.
"Have a routine," behavioral specialist Becky Blake, PHDC, and author of Unlock Your Child's True Potential, tells Romper. She explains:
"Dim the lights, cool the room down, read a certain book, listen to certain music, rub their back a certain way. If you consistently do this before every bedtime or nap time, your child's brain and body will start responding to going to sleep. The keyword here is consistently. Do it every day at the same time no matter what. If it's the weekend, if you're on vacation, keep your child schedule of sleep the same."
Before establishing that sleep routine with your 12 to 18 month old, however, you need to be able to understand when they are ready to transition from two to one naps a day.
"Your baby still needs a two-nap schedule up until the age of 14 months," Stauffer says. She explains:
"Sometime during this period — 14 to 18 months — you can expect your child’s schedule to change to just one nap a day. You might see one of the following scenarios that indicates your child is ready to make this transition: She plays through her entire morning nap, or it takes her so long to fall to sleep for this nap that it starts later and lasts too long which then interferes with afternoon nap. Others may continue to fall to sleep quickly for nap one and take a great nap but then refuse to take an afternoon nap or the afternoon nap starts too late and interferes with bedtime."
What does this sleep schedule look like, exactly? Nicole Johnson, President and Lead Sleep Consultant of The Baby Sleep Site, gives Romper two examples. A two nap schedule should go as follows: You would wake up your baby at 6 a.m., put them down for a nap at 9:30 a.m. and again at 2:30 p.m., then finally put them down for sleep at 7:30 p.m. Once you begin to transition to a one-nap schedule, your day will look like this: Your baby will wake up at 7 a.m., nap at 12:00 p.m., and be put down for bed at 7:00 p.m.
Just because your baby has become a toddler, that doesn't mean that you can stop monitoring their sleep schedule. Your child will still need plenty of sleep, and you will need to help them transition into this new stage of their life. Once they get the hang of that, your baby will continue to grow happy and healthy — and hopefully with a sleep schedule that allows plenty of rest for mom, too.