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When she was just on the cusp of 6 months, Squeaker stopped sleeping through the night. She had just started passive teething so I’m fairly certain that had a lot to do with it. She was also still exclusively breastfeeding and I’m sure that played a large part as well. But then as she started to transition to being a curious toddler; her sleep patterns remained almost the same.

She was taking two naps a day but she still wasn’t sleeping through the night.

I admit, this is probably our fault as well for not establishing a bedtime routine with her… something that I’ll get into later.

If we were really and truly concerned about this, I would bring it up with her pediatrician. For me, honestly, it’s not so much that she sleeps through the night; but whether or not she’s getting enough sleep. So how can you tell if your toddler is sleeping enough throughout the day or night?

Toddlers are curious creatures and to fuel their adventures, they need to sleep. But how can you tell if your toddler is getting enough sleep?

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How To Determine If Your Toddler Is Sleeping Enough

1. Check the clock. The recommendation from doctors is 12 to 14 hours of sleep a day for toddlers. This may be in combination of naps and whatever sleep they get during the night. Some toddlers (like Squeaker) may sleep longer during their naps and not quite as much at night.

Start keeping track of how long your toddler sleeps. You can do this by using an app or by using a simple chart to track naps and how long they sleep at night.

2. Check Their Morning Behavior. How is your toddler in the morning? Are they cranky and aggressive? Or do they seem energized and ready to start the day? You can also monitor their behavior when they wake up from naps. Are they still groggy or do they seem refreshed?

3. Falling Asleep Outside of Their Normal Nap Time. If your toddler is falling asleep outside of their normal nap times, then they might not be getting enough sleep during their naps and nighttime. You might want to consider changing their nap time or putting them to bed earlier to see if that will help.

How To Help Your Toddler Get More Sleep

Every child is different, of course, and even though the recommendation might be 12 to 14 hours, some children might need more and some might need less. How will you know if your toddler is sleeping enough? Watch their behavior for cues. A grumpy, cranky toddler is no picnic and it just might be a lack of sleep at the heart of the problem.

Of course, it may just be the case that toddlers are just naturally stubborn.

How active is your toddler during the day? How much time do they spend outside? When the weather permits, we try to get outside for a good hour of playing, walking, exploring, etc. Just about anything that gets us up and moving. This usually helps with getting Squeaker to cooperate with her afternoon nap. Sometimes, we’ll also go out in the later afternoon or evening to help with bedtime.

You could try doing more naps but for shorter periods of time or if your toddler is giving up on their naps, try putting them to bed earlier and see if that will work.

Maintain a consistent bedtime routine, if you don’t have one in place already. This could include things like: taking a bath, reading a story (classics like Goodnight Moon, or you could try The Going To Bed Book, Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site,), brushing teeth (and gums), playing calming music/singing a lullaby, bedtime prayers, or saying goodnight to toys.

Did you know that lavender has a lot of soothing properties? Try spraying some lavender on a pillow, on blankets, or in the air. Or use a lavender scented lotion for a gentle massage.

Also, be sure that you have a routine for naps. For Squeaker (when she was a younger toddler), she would take one nap in the morning, one in the early afternoon, and one late afternoon. But she only naps for 45 minutes at a time. Still, I know that this is consistent for her and when she doesn’t get her three naps in, she is Ms. Fussy Pants.

After she turned 2, her naps reduced to two per day- one in the morning and one in the mid-afternoon.

All toddlers are different when it comes to napping and how long they nap. Some may give up naps completely by a certain age while others, like my Squeaker, still need two to get them through the day. Start keeping track of how long they nap but don’t attempt to take nap time away if your toddler is not ready to do so.

Create a calm sleeping environment that facilitates a good rest. Use blinds and/or curtains to block out light, close windows if you need to to avoid the outdoor noise. Or, if your toddler needs this sort of thing, maybe look into a white noise machine. If they can’t sleep without some light, try nightlights that reflect light on the ceiling.

How do you make sure that your toddler is getting enough sleep?

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Digital Product Creator at Kori at Home
Kori is a late diagnosed autistic/ADHD mom. She is currently located in Albany, NY where she is raising a neurodiverse family. Her older daughter is non-speaking autistic (and also has ADHD and Anxiety) and her youngest daughter is HSP/Gifted. A blogger, podcaster, writer, product creator, and coach; Kori shares autism family life- the highs, lows, messy, and real. Kori brings her own life experiences as an autistic woman combined with her adventures in momming to bring you the day-to-day of her life at home. Kori is on a mission to empower moms of autistic children to make informed parenting decisions with confidence and conviction.

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9 years ago

I’ve for sure for sure got to try this, this weekend. I’d love it if you shared this at Worthwhile Wednesdays.

9 years ago

I think we underestimate how important sleep for children is. I used to work in social work and I never addressed “behavior issues” with families until their child was sleeping better. Consistency is definitely the answer. I see so many parents who can’t go through with “sleep training” which eventually makes the problem worse. At our house we use black out blinds, white noise (running fans) and have a consistent bed and nap time and routine. Great post!