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  • Writer's pictureMary Cantwell

Toddler Nap Schedules for 2, 3, and 4-Year-Olds


As your baby evolves into a walking, talking tornado of a toddler their afternoon nap needs will adjust. If you're like many moms and dads out there, you may find yourself amid a naptime conundrum, where your child may not want to take a nap or takes a nap and bedtime doesn’t happen until 9 pm or later! Let’s dive into the importance of the afternoon nap, how the nap affects bedtime, and sample schedules for our 2, 3, and 4 year olds!


When does a toddler drop their nap:

This can happen at any of the toddler ages and we most often see it in the three-to-four-year age group.  A two-year-old does occasionally drop their nap but I recommend first looking at capping the nap before dropping it.  The reason being is that if we drop the nap too early it can affect their overnight sleep consolidation. If we notice that when our three- and four-year-old consistently is still taking their nap and bedtime becomes an hour or 2-hour event, their nighttime sleep is affected or they have consistent early morning wakings, we may need to evaluate whether to cap the nap or drop it completely.


Factors Affecting Toddler Naps:

Every child is unique, and their nap requirements can vary based on factors such as age, activity level, and individual sleep needs. While some toddlers may thrive on longer naps with ten hours of overnight sleep, others may do well with a shorter nap and twelve hours of overnight sleep. One factor I do often see is that their daytime sleep needs decrease as toddlers and overnight sleep becomes more of their overall sleep needs.


Toddler Nap Schedules:

There is a lot of change that happens with daytime sleep as our children move into toddlerhood. Use the sample nap schedules as a guide to help craft your daily routine for your 2, 3, or 4-year-old. Remember, flexibility is key, and it's okay to adjust your approach as your child grows and their sleep patterns evolve.


Two-Year-Old Sample Nap Schedule:

At the age of two, toddlers have one midday nap with overall daily sleep needs ranging from 13 to 14 hours (including nap).

Morning Wake: 6:00-7:30 AM

Afternoon Nap: 12:30/1:00-2:30/3:00PM

Bedtime: 7:00-7:30 PM

Total Night Sleep: 10-12 Hours

Total Day Sleep: 2 to 2.5 Hours

Number of Naps: 1



2 year old sleep schedule

Three-Year-Old Sample Nap Schedule:

At the age of two, toddlers have one midday nap with overall daily sleep needs ranging from 12 to 13 hours (including the nap if still napping).

Morning Wake: 6:00-7:30 AM

Afternoon Nap: 12:30/1:00-2:30 PM

Bedtime (Nap): 7:30 -8:00 PM

Bedtime (No Nap): 7:00 - 7:30 PM

Total Night Sleep: 10-12 Hours

Total Day Sleep: 1 to 1.5 Hours

Number of Naps: 1 or 0



3 year old sleep schedule


Four-Year-Old Sample Nap Schedule:

 As our child reaches four, their nap needs will decrease significantly or will have no day sleep with overall sleep needs ranging from 10-12 hours.  Typically, four years olds no longer need a nap but some four-year-olds may still benefit from a nap.

Morning Wake: 6:00-7:30AM

Optional Nap (if napping)/Quiet Time: 1:00-2:00PM

Bedtime (Nap) : 7:30 PM

Bedtime (No Nap): 7:00 PM

Total Night Sleep: 10-12 Hours

Total Day Sleep: 1 to 1.5 Hours

Number of Naps: 1 or 0



4 year old sleep schedule


When to adjust toddler Naps:

Two Year Olds: If bedtime or nap is becoming a battle, look at your schedule to layer in tweaks to help your child manage their nap and bedtime needs. 

·         Wake in the morning by 7:30am to help build sleep pressure for midday nap.

·         Cap nap.  Range is 2 to 2.5 Hours

·         Nap is too close to bedtime/late in the afternoon

·         Bedtime is becoming later (past 8:00pm)

·         Wake from nap by 3:00pm

·         Bedtime is taking longer for child to fall asleep

·         Nap is too close to bedtime/late in the afternoon. 

 

Three Year Olds: If bedtime is becoming a battle, look at your schedule to layer in tweaks to help your child manage their nap and bedtime needs.  Nap becomes especially important to pay attention to so that we preserve their overnight sleep and sleep pressure to fall asleep at bedtime.

·         Wake in the morning by 7:30am to help build sleep pressure for midday nap.

·         Cap Nap. Range is 1 to 1.5 Hours

·         Nap is too close to bedtime/late in the afternoon. 

·         Move to Quiet Time once nap is dropped or only napping a few days a week

·         Bedtime is becoming later (past 8:00pm)

·         Wake from nap by 2:30pm

·         Bedtime is taking longer for child to fall asleep

·         Nap is too close to bedtime/late in the afternoon. 

 

Four Year Olds: It is common for toddlers to drop their naps by age four, but some toddlers do benefit from their daytime snooze.  Look at your schedule to layer in tweaks to help your child manage their nap and bedtime needs.  Overnight sleep becomes all or most of their sleep needs in a day.

·         Wake in the morning by 7:30am to help with having enough awake time prior to bedtime

·         Cap Nap to 1 Hour (if still napping)

·         Move to Quiet Time once nap is dropped or only napping a few days a week

·         If napping, wake by 2:00pm

·         Bedtime is becoming later (past 8:00pm)

·         Bedtime is taking longer for a child to fall asleep. 


When to Transition to Quiet Time:

When your toddler has moved to dropping their nap or only napping sporadically a couple times a week, then I recommend Quiet Time.  This is an important part of their day to stop and restore their bodies but not have a forced nap time.  It gives time for their bodies to slow down midday which will help them power through their on the go toddler days!


Quiet Time Ideas:

 Have a designated bin or box that has quiet time toys that are stored in their room that they get to only play with during quiet time. 

Quiet time toy ideas:

·         Duplo Legos

·         Magna Tiles

·         Coloring books

·         Action figures or dolls (no electronic components)

·         Reading books

·         Play doh (can get messy!)

·         Puzzles


As you embark on the journey on our toddlers naps and adjustment, remember that there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Pay attention to your child's cues, tweak your schedule as their needs change and trust your instincts as a parent. With patience, flexibility, and a supportive approach, you'll navigate naptime with confidence and grace. If we are still on the nap or bedtime struggle bus, let’s schedule a complimentary  Discovery Call  to chat more on how we can work 1:1 together to bring sleep back to your family!


Happy Napping!



  




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