Is it too late to start sleep training? Do I have to let them cry it out? So many questions when it comes to sleep and our babies. In this post my pediatric sleep expert friend Monica Maldonado is answering your real, burning questions! Monica has been a wealth of knowledge and actionable advice for my boys and I’m so glad you’re hearing more from her about sleep training toddlers (and older kids) with a gentle approach.
To hear more from Monica about newborn and infant sleep training, you can check out this post. You can find all our favorite baby sleep essentials for a better night’s rest here.
Want to talk directly with Monica to map out a personalized plan? You can schedule a free call with her to get your little one (and you) sleeping through the night! She’s a miracle worker.
When can siblings share a room?
Any age, really! This truly depends on your preferences as a parent and a number of other factors like the age gap between siblings. Newborns wake quite a bit during the night, so your older child might find this to be a bit disturbing.
I also find that older siblings like to have a night light, while babies really need complete darkness to get long stretches of sleep. But if it’s what
works for your family, go for it!
When do toddlers stop napping?
I typically find the nap goes away around your child’s third birthday! It’s a sad day when the nap comes to an end. I do recommend replacing nap time with quiet time. Here’s a great article about making the transition from nap time to quiet time for your preschooler.
When should we switch to a toddler bed and leave the crib behind?
I recommend keeping your little one in the crib until at least 2.5 years old, preferably closer to three years. When you move them to a “big kid” bed before that, they really struggle to understand the invisible boundaries of a big kid bed (or even a toddler bed!)
If you move them too soon, the move can magnify any sleep troubles they’re experiencing. Here’s a really helpful article that poses some great questions that will help you determine if it’s the right time!
Questions from real mamas:
Q: My son is 18 months old. No matter what time he goes to bed, he wakes up at 6am on the dot. He’s up for a whole 3.5 rambunctious hours, then cranky and lashing out by the time his nap rolls around from 9:30-11. He refuses a second nap at 2:30. We try for one nap a day since he’s old enough for that, but he gets really mean in that mid-morning time. We desperately need advice when it comes to sleep training around naps. Help!
Monica: Hey mama! Ohhhh 18 months is the cutest age, but a really ROUGH age too! I have a 21-month-old, so this is fresh on my mind. Sounds like he’s in a cycle of overtiredness. But you’re exactly right, he only needs one nap per day! Which is why you’re seeing him refuse that second nap
when it’s offered.
My recommendation to you is this: push, push, push his nap time later. I know it’s tough, and he’s cranky central, but he’s just not tired enough at 9:30 am to get that longer nap that you want to see. 9:30 am is a great time to get outside in the sunshine, and have a snack – preferably some fruit, as that natural sugar will give him a boost.
Introduce some new activities to get him through the morning. Slowly push his nap back to 12 or 12:30 pm, directly after lunch (so he does not catch a second wind). Once he wakes up from nap, he should get
about 5 hours of wake time between end of nap and bedtime, to avoid overtiredness. Here’s a super helpful article on this as well to help with the transition.
Q: Why is my 10-year-old suddenly waking up three times a night again? He didn’t start sleeping through the night until he had his tonsils and adenoids removed due to sleep apnea.
Monica: This is a great question! The average amount of sleep for a healthy school age child between the ages of 6 and 13 years old is between 9 and 11 hours a night. With this age group, I often see the child going to bed too early and there’s an expectation they sleep all night.
There’s usually anxiety around bedtime with the child because they’re just not tired enough. Here are a few recommendations:
+Make the room as cozy as possible for your child! It should be a place that he looks forward to at the end of the day. Get him involved in the process of “refreshing” his room.
+Don’t make him go to bed until he’s ready to go to bed. I often see a bedtime as late as 9-9:30 pm with this age.
+Make sure you’re spending some quality one on one time with him every day. His wakings could be some attention seeking behavior. By spending dedicated time with him each day (15-20 minutes) doing something that he wants to do, that will fill him up emotionally, and create a greater desire to follow the rules at bedtime.
Q: We moved our two year old boy into a toddler bed about a month ago and since then he’s been waking up in the middle of the night to nurse again. Is there sleep regression at this age or is it the bed and the freedom to get up when he wakes? His twin sister is still in a crib and doesn’t wake in the night.
Hi mama! Oh boy, two year old twins! You are the real MVP 😉
This is an excellent question! It is absolutely the freedom of the toddler bed that is causing those night time wake ups. Your little guy doesn’t quite understand the invisible boundaries of a toddler bed.
This age is just not there developmentally to cognitively understand the
phrase,“stay in bed”. So when he can easily get out of the bed, and then be nursed in the middle of the night… well, that’s just the icing on the cake for him!
As far as a sleep regression goes, I do find this age needs a little less sleep in an overall 24 hour period. For sleep training and sleep scheduling, typically a 2 year old needs a 90 minute nap during the day and 11 hours overnight.
Monica is a certified pediatric sleep consultant with Sleep Wise. She’s a wife and mama living close by in Texas! She helps families find better sleep with private consultations to create a plan that works with their lifestyle. You can chat with Monica by scheduling a free call with her here.
She also shares amazing sleep tips over on Instagram at (@mon.maldo), so give her a follow and be sure to check out all she’s up to!