1-Year-Olds and Sleep

Bedtime issues often linger long past your child's first birthday. The trick is teaching your child to fall asleep on her own.
Girl pouting

By your child's first birthday, you probably have managed to solve the big issues of sleep, but it's likely that there are a few remaining trouble spots that keep you or your spouse up from time to time. Bedtime issues often continue to be paramount in parents' minds long after the first year. That's because as your child grows, you can expect bedtime difficulties to recur with almost every new stage of development. But you needn't despair -- there are solutions that will leave everybody in your family happy and your 1-year-old asleep. The trick is in helping your child learn to go to sleep herself.

How much sleep does your 1-year-old need? Typically, children this age sleep for about 11 1/2 hours at night and take two naps during the day for a total of about 14 hours out of every 24. By the time your child reaches his second birthday, he may be sleeping about an hour less, with only one nap making up part of his typical 13 hours or so of downtime. However, you need not be concerned if your little one doesn't exactly fit this pattern, as long as both you and your child feel well rested; normal sleep requirements vary greatly from child to child.

Don't get frustrated in your crusade to help your child sleep through the night. Almost no one, parent or child, ever really sleeps through the whole night without waking. Think about it for a moment -- don't you sometimes wake? Don't you go to the bathroom, or fluff your pillow, or prod your snoring spouse? Sure you do.

Much the same is true for your child, who often will wake up briefly during the night -- as she goes through the normal cycles of deep and light sleep -- as a noisy truck goes by or as she finds herself in an uncomfortable position. Your goal should be to help your child fall asleep when it's bedtime and return to sleep easily -- and by herself -- when she wakes during the night. If she doesn't know how to do this, her only recourse will be to cry out to you to help her get back to sleep.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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