Sleep between 1 and 2 years old

A 1- or 2-year-old child sleeps 8 to 12 hours per night. Generally, up to 18 months, your child needs two naps per day, one in the morning and the other in the after‑noon. Beginning at about 18 months to 2 years, she may need only one nap. Sometimes she will be in a bad mood when she wakes up. Be patient and wait a bit before getting back to regular activities. Remember that each baby’s sleep needs are different, and they decrease as she grows.

Sleep problems

A lot of children aged 1 or 2 cry at bedtime. They are going through a normal period of separation anxiety, which can last to 18 months or more. Their fears make it harder for them to be without you at bedtime. Keep your bedtime routine with a gentle firmness. This will help reassure your child.

Nightmares and night terrors

Beginning at age 1, many children have night terrors. The child may scream and cry, yet seems to be sleeping deeply. You don’t need to wake her or do anything in particular, unless you think she might hurt herself. If you can’t console her, don’t worry, she will calm down soon.

If she wakes up in a panic and seems very awake, she probably had a nightmare. Being there to reassure her will help her fall back to sleep calmly.

And don’t worry, night terrors and nightmare problems generally go away as your child grows. Several books offer tips on how to teach older children to deal with the problem.

Disturbed sleep

If your child wakes up at night, try the bedtime routine we suggested previously for children over the age of 6 months. If you have trouble creating a bedtime routine, or if your child keeps waking up at night despite your routine and you’re concerned, talk to a health professional.

Your child’s sleep is disturbed if

  • She wakes often during the night (more than two times)
  • She wakes for a long period during the night (more than 20 minutes)
  • She needs you when she wakes at night
  • She wakes more then four or five nights out of seven
  • She’s woken up during the night for at least three months.

In these cases, getting help is a good idea. Reading about the problem or talking to a professional can be useful.