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NAN: Toddler Sleep Routines

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During the toddler years, a child will transition to one afternoon nap per day. This transition typically happens between 15 and 18 months of age. Toddlers continue to need 11 to 14 hours of sleep per 24 hour period, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Sometimes parents may want their toddlers to stop napping altogether believing that they’ll sleep better at night if they do. The reality is that overtired toddlers are much harder to settle down and they have a harder time falling and staying asleep. If a toddler sleeps too late in the day, however, he might have a hard time settling down for bedtime.

During the toddler years most children move from a crib to a bed. This transition should happen before a child reaches 35 inches,  according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If the height of the crib rail is at a toddler’s chest when the mattress is at the lowest level or the toddler can climb out of the crib, parents may wish to move the toddler to a bed to prevent falls.

To help facilitate a smooth transition, the toddler bed can be placed in the same location as the crib in the room. A guard rail can be used to prevent the toddler from rolling out of bed. When transitioning from crib to a bed it’s important that the same bedtime routine be followed.

If a toddler has a nightmare and wakes up during the night crying, he should be comforted and reassured. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nightmares can reflect stress and can occur when a child is overtired.

During the toddler years some toddlers will develop a fear of monsters. Labeling a water spray bottle as “Monster Spray” and spraying it in the room before the toddler goes to sleep can provide comfort and reassurance that no monsters are lurking under the bed or in the closet. Stress caused by changes in routine, like moving, having a new childcare provider or transitioning to a bed, can bring about nighttime fears.

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Toddler Sleep Routines