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The best 2 year old sleep schedule for happy toddlers 

Wondering what an ideal 2 year old sleep schedule for your toddler looks like?

At age two your little one’s daily sleep schedule will consist of one or two naps plus a (hopefully) healthy chunk of sleep at night of around 11 hours. 

Two year old enjoying their daily routine with their mother

By the time your toddler hits age two you’ve seen your little one go through some huge changes. Their routine will have changed gradually, but significantly, since they were a baby. 

And at age two those changes keep on coming! Your toddler at age two will either have already dropped down to one nap a day or be set to do so in the next few months. 

Physically they will be doing a lot more and with that extra height they’ll probably be exploring whole new areas of your home! 

But some things do stay the same, such as your toddler’s meal times and the time you put them down to sleep at night. 

This article contains a handy sample schedule to help guide you. 

How many naps for a 2 year old?

Some two year olds have dropped down to one nap by the time they hit their second birthday or shortly after. At this stage their wake window – the length of time they can comfortably stay awake – will be around six hours.

For those who are still having two naps a day they will ditch one of those not long after their second birthday. 

Signs that your two year old is ready to drop one nap include: 

  • They’ve become very difficult to settle. 
  • They have difficulty settling for the second daily nap. 
  • Their first nap of the day has become shorter. 
  • They’re aren’t displaying the usual tired signals before the first nap, such as rubbing eyes, yawning and detaching from play. 

If you think your child may be ready to drop their morning nap then bring their second nap of the day forward half an hour or so to help them cope with the extra wake time. 

How long should a 2 year old nap?

The amount of sleep a two year old needs is between 12 and 14 hours a day – although please note this is not an exact science.

Your two year old will sleep for between 11 and 12 hours overnight. 

With this is mind your child’s naps may be between one and 2.5 hours depending on how many they are having. 

A child on two naps per day may take two naps of one hour each – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. However it’s often the case that the morning nap is much shorter – maybe even just 30 minutes – as your child just needs to power up a little after their morning playtime. 

A toddler who is taking just one nap a day at age two will likely have an afternoon nap of one to 2.5 hours right after lunch. 

Toddler nap schedule 

If your two year old is on just one nap per day then keep their nap time close to lunch – giving them around 30 minutes after they have finished eating to chill out before then putting them down for their nap. 

A toddler who is still on two naps per day can take them at these times:

  • One in the morning at around 9.30/10am
  • Second after lunch at around 1pm. 

If your toddler is fighting their naps then it could be a sign you need to drop one nap – if they are still on two naps – however going down to zero naps soon after they turn two may be a little soon. 

A toddler on one nap per day will be ready for sleep at around 12.30pm/1pm.

Good sleep during the day begets good sleep at night. Kids who are overtired tend to be harder to settle in the evening. 

When my youngest daughter began resisting naps in the day at age two she used to fall asleep on the rug in the living room in the late afternoon. She was exhausted so clearly still needed a daytime nap to carry her through! 

If your child is resisting their daytime nap then keep being persistent with putting them down. Try to follow a shortened version of your nighttime bedtime routine, where you read them a short story in their bedroom before putting them down for a sleep. 

The end of your toddler’s last nap of the day needs to be four hours before they are set to go to bed to ensure they can settle well. So if their bedtime is at 7pm, ensure they are awake by 3pm. 

2 year old sleep schedule

2 year old sleep regression 

The two year old sleep regression can make it difficult to make sense of your child’s daily routine! https://www.healthline.com/health/childrens-health/2-year-old-sleep-regression

Your child still needs a daytime nap, but the sleep regression may mean that they fight even taking one nap. Kids who do this tend to stick it out until late afternoon and then take a “danger nap” (a nap taken too close to bedtime that means they may not settle well at night). 

Your child may be experiencing the two year sleep regression if they: 

  • Fight their nap
  • Are difficult to settle at night
  • Wakes up in the night when they were previously sleeping through 
  • Wakes up early in the morning

The sleep regression can be caused by a number of things, including a combination, such as teething, dropping one daytime nap, separation anxiety and physical and mental development. 

2 year old girl

All of this is completely normal and tends to last between one and three weeks. This study found that approximately 25% of children under five have some kind of sleep problem.

Of course even though this is a short-lived experience sleep problems can be tiring for you as parents.

In order to help you survive the sleep regression remind yourself this phase will pass and stick with your bedtime routine to help reinforce your child’s daily schedule once they do get back into a rhythm. 

You can also focus on calm activities in the daytime, so neither of you are overdoing it and your child isn’t overstimulated at a time when their sleep is being disturbed. 

Bedtime for a 2 year old 

The ideal bedtime for your 2 year old is between 7pm and 7.30pm. 

This may vary depending on when their last nap time finished and what time you tend to get them up in the morning. 

The 7pm bedtime assumes an overnight chunk of sleep of around 11 to 12 hours. 

If you want to try and push that back to have a slightly later morning this is up to you. 

This needs to be part of your regular routine however – I’ve found that even when my kids have a late night they’re still up like clockwork at the time they’re used to waking the next day! 

It may be the case that a later bedtime of 8pm works best if you’re not rushing out of the house to get your little one to childcare in the mornings. 

Toddler bedtime routine

Settling a toddler to sleep is so much easier with a bedtime routine. If you don’t have one already by the time your child has turned two it’s never too late to start. 

A good bedtime routine for a two year old will take around 30 minutes to 45 minutes and includes: 

  • Bath 
  • Get into PJs
  • Cup of milk. Some kids may like to have a cup of milk at this stage, you may want to offer it in the hour before bathtime, just to ensure your child has had a chance to go to the toilet before they go to sleep. This means nighttime accidents are less likely if your child is already out of nappies. 
  • Turn down the lights in their bedroom
  • Read a bedtime story and/or sing lullabies 
  • Say “goodnight, sweet dreams” 

Some parents like to hold their child’s hand while they fall asleep. I personally have always left the room to let them settle on their own. This is really down to you and what you prefer. 

If your child has a tablet or other screen device I recommend not using it just before bedtime. I find with my own kids they struggle massively to settle after they’ve been using a screen for a spell before bedtime. 

What about meals for a 2 year old?

By age two the days of weaning are well and truly behind you. Your toddler may still be having a cup of milk in the morning and evening before bedtime. 

At age two your child can eat pretty much exactly the same foods as the rest of the family, although they may of course have some preferences regarding spice levels! 

If your child is developing fussy habits about food then try the following: 

  • Introduce new foods with familiar ones. Rather than presenting your toddler with a totally new dish that they haven’t tried before simply add different vegetables or a different meat to dishes they already like. 
  • Let them eat off your plate. It’s not great table manners to let your kids steal from grown-ups’ plates, however it does really help to encourage them to try new things! My kids are always fascinated by what we have to eat and it’s convinced them to try lots of different foods. 
  • Let them build their own meal. Dinners where you let your kids pick from a selection of foods often encourage them to try something new. For example you could let them select their own pizza toppings – you could try this easy tortilla pizza recipe for toddlers – or create wraps using meat, carrot sticks, grated cheese and some salad. 
  • Be consistent. Keep offering new foods regularly, and keep your cool if they don’t try any. There are some things your child may never grow to like, but there are others that they may start to appreciate once they have got over their initial instinct to reject new things. 

I’ve got lots of toddler dinner ideas if you’re struggling for inspiration.

Sample 2 year old sleep schedule 

This routine for a 2 year old is a guide and you can always adapt timings to make sure they fit in with your own family’s daily life. 

Two-nap 2 year old daily schedule 

This is a daily schedule for your two year old assuming they are still on two naps per day.

TimeWhat your 2 year old is doing
7am Wake up
7.30amBreakfast
9.30amSnack
10amNap
11am Wake up
12midday Lunch
1.30pmNap
3pm Wake up and snack
5pm Dinner
7pm Bedtime routine and lights off

One-nap 2 year old daily schedule  

This is a great sample schedule for your two year old if they are on one nap per day.

TimeWhat your 2 year old is doing
7am Wake up
7.30amBreakfast
10amSnack
12middayLunch
1pmNap
3pmWake up and snack
5pmDinner
7pmBedtime routine and lights out

Final thoughts on your two year old’s daily routine 

I hope this article has helped reassure you about your toddler’s daily routine and given you some ideas for how to handle their nap schedule. 

If you are struggling to figure out whether your two year old needs one or two naps then watch their behaviour and tired signs closely for a couple of days. If they aren’t showing much signs of tiredness before their morning nap then try cutting it out and bring their second nap of the day slightly forward. 

A child who is overtired will be grouchy and hard to settle at night. If this is the case then track your toddler’s routine for a few days and add up how much daytime sleep they are getting. If they are getting an hour or less of sleep then maybe they need a little more. 

Consider adding an extra nap if they are only having one, or trying to lengthen their daytime nap.  

Sleep schedule for 2 year old

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