Sleep (6 to 36 months)

Every child has unique sleeping patters, but as a parent make sure you know the basics about your child, ages six to 36 months.

From six to twelve months, your child still needs two (possibly three) naps a day. They may need one mid-morning, one mid-afternoon and another late day nap. Try to lay your baby down for the evening at around 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and expect her to sleep 11 to 13 hours. They may still wake up for a nighttime feeding, especially if they are still being breastfed.

At around 12 to 24 months, your child will need about 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. At this stage, children may give up their morning naps and take a longer afternoon nap. As your child starts to give up his afternoon nap, they will be ready to go to bed for the evening earlier while they adjust to the changes.

From 24 to 36 months, it is a good time to start working on moving your child out of the crib (especially when they start crawling out on their own) and into their own bed. You can make this a positive transition by talking about how they are a big boy/girl now. Other tips include having them go shopping with you to pick out their own bedding (sheets/comforter/pillow) or stuff animal, staying with the same bedtime as before, and keeping up with the same routines such as, bath time, quiet time or reading time. This will help your child know the routine that they go to bed with and learn to stay there as you tuck them in and kiss them goodnight. If they get out of their bed and come out, then return them in a gentle, calm, and quiet manner. At first you may have to continue returning them to their own bed a few (or many) times. Don’t give up; they will pick up on this routine if you continue with the same actions. If you slip up (as we all do) and let them come out to play, you will have to start over and it will take longer. Try your hardest to stick to the rules.

It may be common for your child to sneak out of their beds in the middle of the night and wander into your room or bed. Again, be diligent and get up to return them to their rooms, tuck them in and kiss them goodnight. If they tell you they are scared, listen to them and take it serious as it is serious to them. Talk gently to them and reassure them they are safe. Depending how they are feeling, you may want to rub their backs until they calm down or go back to sleep.

For more information on your child’s development, go to If you have any concerns about your child’s health, contact your pediatric doctor’s office.

This is the second article in a Michigan State University Extension series on sleep. See also: Sleep (1 to 4 months).

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