Toddlers and preschoolers need significantly more sleep than older children and adults, with toddlers needing 12-14 hours and preschoolers needing 11-13 hours, on average.  Most toddlers will split this time between nighttime sleeping and up to two naps, while preschoolers may spend their full 11-13 hours of sleep at night or add in a short daytime nap.

As toddlers reach the age of three, they may start napping less often during the day, reducing to one or two daytime naps to a few hours at a time. They are also likely to move from a crib to a toddler bed at this time. This is the age where bedtime can start to become difficult for both parents and their child, as toddlers often resist bedtime and have difficulty falling back asleep if they find themselves awake during the middle of the night.

Preschoolers may start to see reduced naps but can likely benefit from the extra sleep to get them to the 11-13 hour range each day. If your child is starting to resist nap time at this age, try to establish a solid routine for napping or just a period of quiet time so they can relax, even it’s only for an hour. 

Helping Your Toddler or Preschooler Sleep

There are a variety of tips and tricks that you can try to help your toddler or preschooler get to sleep easier and stay asleep longer.

  1. Maintain a strict bedtime and wake-up schedule and try to put your child down for naps at the same time every day. A consistent schedule will help them naturally get sleepy when it is time for bed or a nap.
  2. Stick to a bedtime routine. Create a series of activities that you do every time it is time for your child to sleep, from turning down the lights to encourage melatonin production and introducing a calming bedtime activity such as a bath or a story.
  3. Keep your child’s bedroom dark and quiet so it is as comfortable as possible for sleeping. Your child’s bed should be a place for sleeping only so refrain from allowing them to watch TV or a tablet while in bed as the light can disrupt their natural circadian rhythm, making it difficult for them to fall asleep.
  4. Place your child in bed when they are sleepy but still awake and then leave the bedroom to allow them to self-soothe. This will help establish long-term healthy sleeping habits as they learn to fall asleep on their own without your presence. 
  5. If your child wakes up in the middle of the night, it is okay to comfort them but be sure to return to your own bed once they have calmed down to encourage them to fall back asleep on their own.
  6. Be careful with any food or beverage consumed within a few hours of bedtime. A bedtime snack is ok if your child is hungry but avoid anything too heavy and be sure to check beverages for caffeine or sugar.

When To Get Help

If your preschooler or toddler is having any of the issues below, contact a doctor.

  1. Trouble breathing while sleeping, including snoring or noises that sound like your child has stopped breathing while sleeping.
  2. Unusual behaviors at night such as excessive awakenings or nighttime fears.
  3. Normal daytime activities are affected by sleeping problems.

Singapore Sleep Coach

If your toddler or preschooler is having trouble falling and staying asleep, contact Petite Dreamers.  Louise, a Singapore paediatric sleep trainer can help! Call her today for a FREE 15-minute discovery call.