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Healthy Sleep Habits for Toddlers
Healthy Sleep Habits for Toddlers

Sleep is important at all ages. Sleep problems are common among infants and toddlers, affecting both the child and the parents. Most toddlers need between 12 and 14 hours of sleep per day; pre-schoolers need between 11 and 13 hours. What's best for your child? Here are some tips to figure that out, and ways to set them up for a better, sounder sleep.

What should I know about sleep and toddlers and pre-schoolers?

Toddlers: Children 1-2 years of age should have 11-14 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period. This may be split up between night-time sleeping and a nap or two during the daytime. It may take several weeks of experimenting before you discover what works best for your toddler.

Pre-Schoolers: Sleep helps your kids grow strong and healthy during their preschool years (ages 3 to 5). Most children during this age need between 10 and 13 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period and usually one daytime nap. Older children may not need any naps at all.

How do sleep needs change during the toddler and preschool years?

Toddlers: By the end of the second year, naps typically decrease to once a day lasting up to three hours. Most toddlers move from cribs to beds between the ages of 2 and 3. Toddlers often do not look forward to bedtime. They do not want to be separated from the parent/guardian or miss out on any of the fun activities they feel might be going on. Common sleep problems at this age include bedtime resistance, night awakening(s) and difficulty returning to sleep. Other problems can include night-time fears and nightmares.

Pre-schoolers: Napping begins to trail off, although most pre-schoolers can still benefit from taking a nap. At NewAge Pre Schools, the best Pre School in North Bangalore, the best way to do this is to establish a set routine time for napping or simply quiet or relaxing time in the child’s bedroom. Even if your child can't sleep, try to set aside some "quiet time" in the early afternoon for your child to relax. Around an hour a day is a sufficient amount of time. Sleep problems are common during these preschool years. These problems can include resisting going to sleep and waking frequently at night. Also common during the preschool years are night-time fears, nightmares, sleepwalking and sleep terrors.

How can I help my toddler sleep well?

You can do a number of things to establish an excellent bedtime routine to ensure that your toddler gets enough sleep. When setting up a bedtime routine, keep these things in mind:

 Stick to the same set bed times and wake up times each day. Don't short change nap time either – make sure that it does not occur too late in the day or that it is too brief – either of these will result in lack of a good night's sleep.

 Maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Turn off overhead lights and use dim table lamps starting 30-60 minutes before bedtime to minimize light exposure. Establish calm and enjoyable activities in the 30 minutes right before bedtime, such as taking a bath or reading bedtime stories to help your child wind down. It is helpful to set clear limits as to how many books you will read or songs you will sing. Allow your child to pick out which pyjamas he or she wishes to wear and which stuffed animal to take to bed, etc. This choice of security object (stuffed animal or blanket) helps your child feel more relaxed at bedtime and all through the night.

 Make sure the bedroom environment is quiet, cool, dark and comfortable for sleeping. A nightlight or area light on the very lowest dimmer setting is fine. Playing soft, soothing music or sound machine is fine. Remember to reserve the bed for sleeping only – it should not be used as a platform for playing. Television watching in the bedroom should not be allowed. Any other form of screen time (iPad, smart phones, etc.) should not be part of the bedroom environment. These can over-stimulate the child and make it harder for them to fall asleep.

 Limit food and drink (especially any drinks containing caffeine) before bedtime. Remember, many clear beverages contain caffeine, so check the label. A light snack before bedtime is OK.

 Tuck your child into bed in a sleepy but awake state, then leave the room. This will help your child learn to fall asleep on his or her own and help your child return to sleep independently if he or she wakes up in the middle of the night.

 Pre-Schoolers: If a Pre-Schooler has a bothersome night waking or nightmare, it is okay for him or her to call out or seek out Mom or Dad for comfort. However, once calmed down, Mom or Dad should return the child to his or her own bed. Surround the child with items of comfort, such as a favourite stuffed animal or soft blanket or other object that will allow the child to fall asleep again independently without the need to leave the bed and seek you out again.

Safety issues with toddlers

Toddlers are at an age where they are becoming increasingly aware and curious about their surroundings. Therefore, as the parents or guardians, you will need to be more cautious about your child's crib, what is placed in it and its surroundings. At NewAge Pre Schools, the best Pre School in Bangalore, we follow the below mentioned pointers for our day-care children:

 Don’t leave extra-large stuffed toys in the crib or leave on the bumper pads – your toddler can use these objects as a step to climb over the crib rail.

 Look for and remove objects with strings or ties that could accidentally end up wound around your child's neck, such as cords on blinds or curtains.

 Look at any objects that might be too close to your child's crib and that your child might be able to reach from a standing position – such as wall hangings, curtains, window blinds and dresser doilies.

 If you have such an active toddler, for safety reasons it might be time to move him or her from a crib to a toddler bed.

 Consider anchoring large furniture to the walls to prevent them from falling over if your child tries to climb on them.

When should I seek a doctor's help regarding sleep issues with my toddler?

Contact a doctor if:

 Your child seems to have trouble breathing, snores or makes noise when breathing, or you have seen your child stop breathing while sleeping.

 Your child has unusual night-time behaviours, unexpected number of awakenings or has significant night-time fears that you are concerned about.

 Your feel your child's sleep problems are affecting daytime behaviour.

Parents need to establish a plan for developing healthy sleep habits in their children. These habits begin their early years, but can be altered over time as they grow older and are exposed to different types of distractions. We’ll explore some different methods below.

 Be observant. ​New-borns often sleep most of the day and night, averaging 16-20 hours a day. However, their sleep cycle is irregular depending on when they need to be fed, changed or nurtured. As parents, it’s important to remain observant of your infant’s needs. Typically, babies will express their desire to sleep by crying, rubbing their eyes, fussing or displaying their non-verbal cues unique to their personality.

 Proper crib use. ​Teach your infant that their crib is a place for sleeping – not playing with toys or laying wide awake while waiting for their parent to sing them a lullaby. Safe sleep practices for infants up to one year of age include room sharing without bed sharing. An infant under one year of age must sleep on his back in his own bed. 

 Don’t be afraid to adapt. ​As your baby grows older, night-time feedings can be spread out, usually around 4 months) They can sleep through the night for more than 8 hours, which allows you too as well. Once a baby begins to regularly sleep through the night, parents are often dismayed if night waking happen again. This typically happens at about 6-9 months of age. Babies may also begin to have difficulty going to sleep because of separation anxiety, overstimulation, or overtiredness.  It is important to adapt your strategies with these developmental changes.

 Routines and schedules are great.   Make bedtime the same time every night. This helps your child know what to expect and helps him establish healthy sleep patterns. Maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Establish calm and enjoyable activities in the 30 minutes right before bedtime, such as taking a bath or reading bedtime stories to help your child wind down. Whenever possible, keep morning wake up and nap time consistent to avoid confusion. 

 Limit electronic use. ​ While electronics are commonly used in most families, they should be avoided before bedtime. ​The light from devices can result in later fall-asleep times and shorter amounts of sleep by affecting natural melatonin levels in the brain and our natural body clock.  It is best if your children should not use their electronics after a certain hour – preferably 3-4 hours before bed.


It is always nice to have good sleep the duration and quality of sleep is important for the body's relaxation and regeneration. At NewAge Pre Schools, the best Pre School in North Bangalore, we believe sleep is not only beneficial to physical health but to emotional health, safety and quality of life. A good night's sleep improves learning of any type as it helps in maintaining attention, making decisions, and being creative.