Read this FIRST: Your 2 year old still needs to nap!
Second- Let us answer these questions:
Does a 2 year old need a nap? YES
Should my 2 year old take a nap every day? YES
When does a 2 year old stop napping? NEVER
How to keep a nap with my 2-year-old? Keep reading!
Two year olds can be challenging and exhausting. I believe I cried the most during this stage as my twins turned from agreeable toddlers to cranky, irrational kiddos who often fought their sleep, as well. Let’s get into the reasons why your 2 year old is fighting their nap or bedtime.
Your toddler may be regressing for several reasons:
1. Their schedule isn’t right for them anymore.
2. They are undergoing a language explosion or periods of separation anxiety.
3. They require a parent, pacifier or bottle to soothe them to sleep and those things no longer work for them anymore.
4. They are regressing because they are two and that is what two years old do. Two-year-olds can often lose their confidence in their sleep abilities where they resist sleep routines at every turn.
After reading these, you may be feeling lost on what to do now. The good news is that a toddler who has repeatedly boycotted their nap, can go on to nap for another year or more- YES, it’s possible!
Suggested 2-Year-old Sleep Schedule
Your two-year-old needs about 6 hours awake before their nap and 5 hours awake after their nap. If your child has a different desired wake time, you can adjust accordingly to your family’s schedule.
An example Schedule Looks Like
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Nap/Crib time
7:45/8:00 PM Bedtime
*You can practice more crib time, here, if your child is happy in their crib and the schedule is working.
What to do when your toddler is going through a sleep regression?
Sleep regressions can be inevitable for a few reasons. Your child is developing rapidly and those skills they are learning can be exciting to practice in the crib. Your two-year-old may spend the entire nap period babbling and singing away, and although frustrating, it’s completely normal. Checkout our podcast episode on how we handle sleep anxiety with our kids- This age group comes up many times!
The important thing to remember is that just because your toddler has been skipping their nap, it doesn’t mean they are done in the long run. Continue to offer the nap at an age-appropriate time of day and before you know it, your child will start napping again. In addition, toddlers need a transition to sleep almost moreso than a baby. Their sleep pressure is much lower now and they are very much aware of sequences of events and more. Practice a nap time routine with your two-year-old to encourage them to nap.
2-Year-Old Nap Time Routine
About 15 minutes before nap time, head into your child’s room.
Change their clothes and give them a fresh diaper, if needed.
Put them in a sleep sack. Yes, this is 100% recommended to help cue them for sleep and discourage trying to climb out of the crib. Here is our favorite sleep sack for two- and three-year-olds!
Once your child is ready, sit on the floor or in a chair and read a book. First words books are great and so are short story board books.
Turn on the sound machine, use your key words, give a hug and place child in their crib.
Communicate you will see them after nap time, close the door and leave the room.
Practicing a two-hour crib time can be helpful when trying to elongate nap lengths.
This routine is a great place to start if your toddler requires you to lay with them, they need a bottle to sleep, or some other sleep prop is in play. If you have big changes to sleep routines to make, be sure to start at bedtime first. You will want to practice the new routine at bedtime at least ONCE before making any changes at bedtime. If you have no idea how to start or implement sleep changes with your 2- year old, view our toddler sleep training packages and know that we are here to help!
Why is your sleep trained two year old screaming and crying at bedtime or nap time?
This age is known for regressing. Not all kids regress, but some do. Things like starting a new daycare, getting a new sibling, parent working more, family stress, or no reason at all can disrupt your child’s sleep. One day they happily go to their crib and the next day they are clinging to you in fear. This can feel alarming and unsettling. The best way to get through this regression is to not change your approach and boundary around sleep if you wish to continue to have an independent sleeper. Check that there isn’t anything to tweak from earlier in the article and then move forward with your usual routine. If you need to revisit the basics of sleep training by incorporating some check-ins for comfort go for it! Sleep training can be successful again at older ages!
Generally speaking, children stop napping around 3-5 years old. Using the suggestions in this article you can help your 2 year old to start napping again for at least another year or longer. Key take aways to help your toddler to continue to nap include:
1. Check the schedule.
2. Continue or develop a nap time routine.
3. Drop sleep props that your child requires to take a nap.
4. Build your child’s sleep confidence by practicing a consistent and predictable sleep routine.
As a sleep consultant and mom to twins, Lindsay Loring understands the struggles parents face when it comes to their baby and toddler’s sleep. Lindsay is a sleep coach located in St. Louis, MO where she helps families world-wide achieve predictable and restful sleep routines. Learn more about Lindsay and enlist her help by booking a free sleep evaluation call! www.tweetdreamzz.com/book-now