How Much Sleep Does My Kid Need?

  Photo by  Nikola Radojcic  on  Unsplash
Photo by Nikola Radojcic  on Unsplash

Babies sleep a lot– or so I’ve been told. What happens when your little one is done with sleeping multiple times a day? If you’ve graduated from the baby stage, you may be surprised to learn how much sleep your child still really needs. Read on to find out about age appropriate sleep routines and expectations for your precious little one.

Sleep for 12 to 18-month-olds

At this age, some toddlers may only be napping once a day. Other kids may still have a two nap routine. Either way, parents should anticipate that a nap last about 1-2 hours. Try to aim for putting your little one down after about three hours of awake time. A child who is taking two daily naps may have a basic routine that looks like this:

  • 7am Wake Up
  • 7-10am Playtime
  • 10am-12pm Naptime
  • 12pm-3pm Playtime
  • 3pm-4pm Naptime
  • 7pm Bath and Bedtime
  • 7:30pm-7am Overnight Sleep (11.5 Hours)

Of course, we all know toddlers and babies don’t watch clocks. Some days your little one may only nap for 45 minutes, or he may wake up at 5am, or he might not go down until 9pm. Hopefully, these occasions are few and far between. In any case, you want to aim for 12-14 hours of total sleep in a 24 hour period for a child this age. Don’t fret and don’t expect your little guy to follow a set schedule. A basic routine that allows him the option to rest about every 3 hours should be just fine. I would also suggest keeping bedtime around the same time each night, regardless of how napping went that day.

Sleep for 18-month-olds to 3 -Year-Olds

By 18 months of age, Junior has most likely dropped his second nap. At this phase, you should still be aiming for one solid nap a day. Hopefully, your child has consolidated his sleep and has a nice two-hour nap in the middle of the day. It’s ok if his nap is just one hour, though. Small children really need a nap, even if they fight it. The nap fights generally come around second birthdays. Even if you can’t force your little one to sleep, try to have a set time during the day where you just rest. You may want to have your child lay in bed and read a book, listen to soft music, or play quietly with stuffed animals.

With just one nap, the timing isn’t as important as it is with younger babies. However, you should still be aiming for 11-14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. A typical day for an 18-month-old to a 3-year-old may look like this:

  • 7am Wake Up
  • 7am-12pm Playtime
  • 12-2pm Nap
  • 2-7pm Playtime
  • 7pm Bath and Bedtime
  • 7:30pm-7am Overnight Sleep (11.5 Hours)

Sleep for 3-4-Year-Olds

I’m a strong supporter of naps for preschoolers. Their minds are expanding, their bodies are growing, and they’re really turning into their own little people. I’m aware some kids may simply refuse to nap past their third birthday, but I still recommend a quiet, restful time in the middle of the day. These young minds are learning and exploring everything. Just think about how exhausting it must be when the whole world is so big and you’re absorbing so much. Taking a time out for rest and relaxation is a wonderful idea. I wouldn’t expect a 2-hour nap from a 4-year-old, but if you can still get even 45 minutes, that’s great! Generally, your child should be getting 10-13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period at this age.

  • 7am Wake Up
  • 7am-12pm Playtime
  • 12-1pm Quiet Time or Naptime
  • 1pm-7pm Playtime
  • 7pm Bath and Bedtime
  • 7:30pm-7am Overnight Sleep (11.5 Hours)

Sleep for 4-5 Year Olds

Naps are probably done for your child by this age. However, if your little one still likes taking a little rest in the afternoon, let them have it. For nighttime sleep, you are aiming for 10-13 hours. A sample routine for a four or five-year-old preschooler is below.

  • 6:30am Wake Up
  • 7:30am-2:30pm Preschool/ Pre-K
  • 2:30pm-7pm Aftercare, Playtime and/or Home Activities
  • 7pm Bathtime and Bedtime
  • 7:30pm-6:30am Overnight Sleep (11 Hours)

Sleep for 6-Year-Olds and Up

If you’ve got a six-year-old who is still napping, you could write a bestseller! How did you do it? What are your secrets? Jokes aside, naps are pretty much over by this age. Overnight, try to make sure your little one is getting 9-11 hours of sleep. You can also move to a later bedtime at this age, although the latest should be around 9pm, if possible. An older child’s schedule might look something like this:

  • 6:30am Wake Up
  • 7:30am-2:30pm School
  • 2:30pm-8pm Aftercare, Playtime and/or Home Activities
  • 8pm Bathtime and Bedtime
  • 8:30pm-6:30am Overnight Sleep (10 Hours)

Below you’ll find a sleep chart with condensed information about daytime, nighttime and overall sleep depending on the age of your little one.

Sleep Chart for 1-12-Year-Olds

Age of ChildNumber of NapsLength of NapsOvernight SleepTotal Sleep Per Day

12-18 Months1-21-2 Hours10-12 Hours12-14 Hours

18-36 Months11-2 Hours10-12 Hours11-14 Hours

3-4-Years-Old0-10-2 Hours10-13 Hours10-13 Hours

4-5-Years-Old0-10-1 Hour10-13 Hours10-13 Hours

6-Years-Old & Up–9-11 Hours9-11 Hours

Note: the numbers will not always add up perfectly because children who take longer naps tend to sleep less at night and children who sleep more at night tend to take shorter naps.

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