Sweet Dreams: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Toddler Sleep Through the Night

Parenthood is a remarkable journey filled with wonder, joy and countless adventures. Yet, one of the most common challenges parents face is helping their toddlers achieve a peaceful night’s sleep. A well-rested child is important, not just for their growth and development but for our own sanity too!

In this blog, we will explore the fascinating world of toddler sleep, from understanding their unique sleep needs to recognising the signs of exhaustion. Join us in uncovering the secrets to sweet dreams and restful nights, as we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of parenthood, one sleep-filled night at a time.

How much sleep does my toddler need?

One of the most precious and yet perplexing aspects of parenting can be ensuring that your little one gets enough sleep. We’ve all been there, wondering if our toddlers are getting the right amount of shut-eye to fuel their growing bodies and active minds. The age-old question is, how much sleep do toddlers really need?

It’s essential to remember that sleep requirements can vary slightly from child to child, but some general guidelines can help you gauge what’s appropriate for your toddler. Typically, toddlers between the ages of one and three need around 11 to 14 hours of sleep daily. This total time is typically divided into nighttime sleep and daytime naps.

Most toddlers still require two naps during their early toddler years, gradually transitioning to one nap as they get close to age three. The duration of these naps and nighttime sleep can vary, but a good rule of thumb is 9-12 hours at night and 1-3 hours of daytime sleep, depending on your toddler’s age and individual needs.

What are the tired signs for a toddler?

Understanding the signs of a tired toddler is like having a secret decoder to your child’s needs. Recognising when your little one is ready for some well-deserved rest is crucial for ensuring they get the sleep they require to grow and thrive. Here are some key signs to look for:

  • Yawning and Eye Rubbing: These physical cues are reliable indicators that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
  • Crankiness and Irritability: Tired toddlers can become increasingly irritable and fussy or easily upset. They may throw tantrums or have meltdowns over seemingly small issues.
  • Decreased Activity and Motor Skills: As fatigue sets in, toddlers may stumble more frequently or show reduced enthusiasm for playtime.
  • Clinginess: A tired toddler may want to be held or cuddled more than usual, seeking the security of a parent’s embrace.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: You may notice a decline in their interest in toys or games they usually enjoy.
  • Bedtime Resistance: Ironically, some tired toddlers might resist going to bed. Perhaps out of a fear of missing out or a desire to spend more time with their parents. 

Reasons why toddlers won’t sleep and how to fix them

There are many reasons toddlers may struggle to both fall asleep and stay asleep, some include:

  • They’re Overstimulated: sometimes when toddlers are doing something exciting before bed or know they are doing something exciting the next morning, they can become overstimulated and their minds won’t stop spinning. To prevent this, they should be participating in relaxing and calming activities before bed and maybe hold off on telling them about exciting activities until the morning.
  • Inconsistent Bedtime Routine: when their bedtime routine is inconsistent, their minds are constantly thinking about what’s happening next and when will it happen. This is not giving their little minds a chance to start switching off and getting ready for bed. Practice the same routine every night. Maybe a nice bath and story time.
  • Separation Anxiety: this is a common developmental phase that typically occurs in toddlers. During this time, they may struggle to fall asleep due to being stressed or upset and wanting comfort from their parents. Practice gradual independence- slowly decrease the distance between yourself and your little one. You could substitute for a comforting teddy instead.
  • Nightmares and Night Terrors: nightmares can cause toddlers to wake up, often crying or seeking comfort from a parent. Night terrors, on the other hand, don’t typically result in a child fully waking up, rather, the child remains in a deep state of sleep. They can still disrupt their sleep cycle. For nightmares, you should offer comfort and reassurance. Night terrors should be treated differently. You should not wake your child during a night terror but rather ensure their safety.
  • Hunger: just like adults, going to bed hungry can cause discomfort and can be distracting whilst they are trying to fall asleep. Nutura’s Calm Smoothie is the perfect bedtime snack! It has several sleep-promoting ingredients such as magnesium, tryptophan, vitamin B6, carbohydrates and potassium.

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  • Excessive Screen Time: using technology screens stimulates the brain and exposes them to blue light, which can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Create a tech-free window at least one hour before bedtime, to allow their brains to disconnect and wind down.
  • Environmental Factors: most children are afraid of the dark, but bright light will also be difficult to fall asleep to. A loud or irritating noise may keep them awake, as it would an adult. Have a little dull light in the corner of their room that is bright enough to see, but still dull so it doesn’t keep them awake.
  • Napping at the Wrong Time: if a toddler is napping too late in the afternoon, their bedtime will be pushed back and their sleep quality will be affected. Try and keep napping time consistent with bedtime routines, as it creates a habit. Toddlers should be napping for around 2 hours in the early afternoon every day. As they get a little older, the naps will become shorter and less regular.
  • Sleep Associations: if your toddler has developed specific sleep associations (needing a particular toy to fall asleep) they may struggle without it. Allocate a particular sleeping toy and know where it is at all times- trust us, you don’t want to lose it…

When to seek professional help for persistent sleeping problems

Seeking professional help for your toddler’s sleep issues is appropriate when those issues are persistent, severe or negatively impacting your child’s health, development or overall well-being. There are several professionals you can seek help from, but your GP should be able to refer you to a specialist.


Our journey as parents is a dynamic one, evolving with every new day and season. So, as we seek to ensure sweet dreams for our toddlers, let’s embrace flexibility and patience. There will be nights of challenge and moments of frustration, but there will also be nights of victory when you and your child find the peaceful sleep you’ve been yearning for.

Remember, you’re not alone on this journey; countless parents share similar experiences and challenges. So, let’s learn from each other, offer support, and celebrate the triumphs, no matter how small.

Tags: Parent's Corner