Toddlers, Naps and Sleep

Expert Q&A

Even with the best plan, your baby may take an occasional nap in his stroller or car seat.
Even with the best plan, you will have to sometimes be flexible, which may be the occasional nap in your baby's stroller or car seat.. Photo © Marcel Pelletier

Question. Can toddlers get too much sleep at night? Lately my 13 month old girl has been skipping naps during the day and sleeping a really long time at night. Is this is a normal amount of sleep how long will it continue? Haley, Alberta, Canada

Answer. Most toddlers still take naps, so their total sleep time is split between a long stretch overnight and 1 or 2 naps during the day.

Naps for Toddlers

At 13 months, for example, most toddlers sleep about 11 hours overnight and take 2 naps of about 1 1/2 hours each, for a total of about 14 hours.

If they get all of that sleep overnight, they may skip naps, but that probably isn't a good idea.

Transitioning of Naps

One common problem at this age occurs when a child begins to switch from 2 daytime naps to just one.

Although this doesn't happen until about 18 months for most toddlers, some do it as young as 9-12 months. And when they skip that morning nap, they may be so tired and fussy in the afternoon that they may end up skipping that nap too. In this situation, by early evening, they are so tired, they may sleep extra long overnight.

Skipping Naps

Since your toddler is sleeping much more than average, and it sounds like this is a new thing, you likely should see your pediatrician to make sure she isn't sick or that something else is going on.

It may be that this is just a phase or that she just came out of a growth spurt or something, but with such a big change in her routine, a check with your pediatrician would be a good idea.

And remember that kids normally continue to take naps until they are about 3 to 5 years old.

Napping Problems

Older toddlers and preschoolers often develop napping problems from time to time too.

The time when toddlers go from two naps to one nap and when preschoolers finally give up their nap can be especially tough.

Until these children get used to their new sleep schedule, they can become a little sleep deprived.

Remember that just because your kids don't want to take a nap, that doesn't mean that they don't still need one.

To help your kids nap well, it may help to:

  • have a consistent schedule, with naps at the same time each day, even if you have to adjust your day around your child's naps
  • put your child down for naps using the same routine each day
  • have a quite time before the nap begins so that your child isn't too wound up from playing
  • consider making your nap a little earlier or a little later in the day, keeping in mind that 1pm is a fairly typical afternoon nap time at this age
  • put your kids down for a quiet time after lunch, even if they don't fall asleep and take a nap

If nothing seems to work and they get overly tired and irritable by the end of the day, you might try an earlier bedtime.

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