Sleep and its challenges are something all parents think about, and finding the proper sleep schedule for your 14-month-old child is just as important as finding the appropriate routine for your newborn.
But before we plan how to get our toddlers to sleep, we need to know how much sleep a little one of this age needs.
Every 24 hours, the average 14-month-old child needs to spend between 11 and 14 hours sleeping. This is usually split between 10 to 12 hours in a single block at night and one or two naps during the day.
However, your child may new more or less sleep than the average toddler, and we’ll talk later about how you can tell if your toddler is getting enough sleep.
A typical, two-nap sleep schedule for a 14-month-old child might look like this:
|10:30 am||First nap|
|11:45 am||Wake up from nap|
|3 pm||Second nap|
|4:15 pm||Wake up from nap|
|7:30 pm||Begin night-time routine|
A one-nap schedule for a 14-month-old child might look like this:
|7 am||Wake up|
|1 pm||Nap time|
|3 pm||Wake up|
|7:30 pm||Begin night time routine|
When to Move From Two Naps to One
Regarding the number of naps your child takes, it’s essential to follow their lead. Trying to make them sleep more or less than they need will only lead to more frustration and upsetting for everyone.
So, how do you know it’s time to move from two naps to one? It’s time for the change when your has previously napped well, aren’t ill or experiencing other issues and:
Isn’t ready to sleep at their first nap time.
Stays awake, fights, or refuses to sleep at nap time.
Begins to wake at night or very early in the morning.
Takes their second nap so late that they aren’t ready to sleep until after 9 pm every night. The exception to this is if your family has a later schedule and 9 pm isn’t unusual. In this case, add two hours to your child’s previously standard bedtime.
How to Move From Two Naps to One
When your little one shows signs they are ready for just one nap a day, you can move slowly, gradually, or in one step.
For some of our kids, the “one-step” move was right; for others, it was a gradual process, so there were no hard and fast rules.
One Step to One Nap
Choose a day when you can more easily cope with a possibly cranky toddler. When the time comes for their morning nap, keep your child busy with their favorite activities. Have an early lunch if you need to, and settle them for nap time after eating.
After a few days of this, you can finetune your schedule.
A Gradual Change to One Nap
Alternatively, you can make your child’s morning nap time 15 minutes later every few days. Once they are close to napping at lunchtime, drop the first nap altogether.
So, now we know how the ideal schedule works, let’s look at what might prevent this from happening.
Common Sleep Issues for a 14-Month-Old Child
While we are all familiar with the typical toddler sleep avoidance strategies, the reasons behind those tactics are more important. Solve why your toddler wants to avoid bedtime, falling asleep, or frequently wakes up during the night, and you’ll both have a much more restful sleep.
The Problem: Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety peaks between 12 and 18 months. This, combined with a toddler’s limited ability to communicate verbally, can lead to tantrums, crying, and other anxious behavior at bedtime.
Take the time to explain to your toddler where you will be while they are asleep. Tell them you will check in every 15 minutes so they can see you’re still here.
To do this, leave an analog clock in your child’s room and put a sticker at 12, 3, 6, & 9 so they can see that you’ll come and check when the big hand moves to this spot.
When you check on them, don’t go into the room and talk, tuck them in, etc. Instead, stand at the doorway, share a smile, say goodnight, blow a kiss, or something similar, and leave again.
Once this routine works, you can build up to 20-minute intervals, 30 mins, etc.
The Problem: Hunger
None of us sleep well when hungry, and toddlers are no exception. However, it can be tricky to tell what is genuine hunger and what’s an attempt to delay sleep.
Make snack time the last thing you do before brushing your toddler’s teeth. By doing so, you can be comfortable that hunger isn’t an issue.
Depending on your child’s likes and dietary needs, good bedtime snacks include
Cheese and crackers
Keep the snack options unexciting; that way, there’s a minimal incentive for staying up to snack.
If your child does insist they are hungry after being in bed for a while, give them the option of one item from your snacks list. Tell your child they can eat the snack in their dimly lit room while you sit quietly next to them. If they’re genuinely hungry, this will work; if they’re not, they will pass on the snack.
The Problem: Teething
At 14 months, your child may be between teething bouts or slap bang in the middle of them.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do about this disrupting your sleep schedule except offer your usual teething solutions, for example,
Providing something safe to chew on.
Approved, over-the-counter pain medications.
Cuddles and comfort.
The Problem: Other Discomforts
A 14-mont-old might experience disturbed sleep if they have a dirty diaper, are too hot or too cold, get their night clothes or bedding twisted, etc.
- Keep your little one’s room temperature at around 18°C to 22°C or 65°F to 70°F.
- Dress them in night clothes that fit well to minimize discomfort or bunching of fabric.
- Choose bedclothes with long sleeves and legs.
- If you cannot keep the room cool enough, dress them in a t-shirt, a diaper, or another similar light item.
The Problem: Illness
Much like teething, there isn’t much you can do about an illness affecting your 14-month-old child’s sleep schedule. However, it is essential to comfort your child in a way that minimizes possible sleep disruptions once they are well.
If your toddler has a chronic or more severe illness, discuss balancing their condition with healthy sleep patterns with your healthcare professional.
If your child has a cold, stomach flu, or something similar, you can manage by providing extra hugs and cuddles during the day but at night, try to minimize how much you pick them up, provide cuddles or rock them off to sleep. This can create sleep associations that make it difficult for your child to fall asleep without your help.
Instead, sit with your child, rub their back or tummy, and provide reassurance that you are there.
The Problem: Life Changes
Life changes that can affect your 14-month-old’s sleep schedule range from moving house or starting daycare to losing a family member or the birth of a new sibling.
Any change can worry your toddler, and they cannot unravel or work through their worries.
If you know there will be a change; you can prepare your toddler by talking about it, sharing books and stories, and in some cases showing them what will be different. For example, you might visit a new home or daycare, read about losing a pet or meet a friend with a new baby.
You can then work on helping your toddler maintain continuity and self-soothe. A good example would be setting up their room in a new home so it looks the same as their previous room, and before you move, providing a new stuffed toy to cuddle with at bedtime.
The Problem: Over-Stimulation
Some people, myself included, have made the mistake of trying to wear a child out by playing lots of boisterous, high-energy games before bedtime. Unfortunately, this has the opposite effect because once you have fired up your little one’s toddler brain, they find it challenging to rewind down again.
Avoid any high-energy activities for two hours before bed. It would be best if you also avoided exciting stories, movies, games, or any other activity that positively piques your child’s interest.
The Problem: Screen Time
The blue light from phones, tablets, televisions, and computer screens blocks the release of melatonin in the brain. It’s melatonin that makes us sleepy, so any time in front of a screen, during the hour before bedtime, makes it more difficult for your child (and you!) to fall asleep.
Turn off any electronic devices an hour before bedtime. Spend that hour winding down, enjoying quiet activities, reading, etc.
The Problem: Overtiredness
It may feel counter-intuitive, but if your child is overtired, they will have trouble falling and staying asleep.
How to Tell if Your 14-Month-Old is Overtired
Signs your toddler is overtired include:
Clumsiness, tripping, stumbling or dropping things.
Crying with no apparent cause.
Excessive demands for attention.
Boredom with toys or disinterest in any activity.
Unusual fussiness with food.
Don’t try to put an over-tired child to bed. Instead, please spend some time sitting, reading, giving them a bath, or another enjoyable but relaxing opportunity.
Setting Up a Bedtime Routine for a 14-Month-Old
Children thrive on routine and taking the same steps every evening will help signal that it’s time for bed.
If you do not already have a routine or want to change an existing practice, take it one step at a time.
Steps to take in a bedtime routine might include:
- Slowly and quietly putting toys away
- Closing the curtains or blinds.
- Turning bright lights off and switching to lamps or nightlights.
- Having a warm bath.
- Getting dressed for bed.
- Brushing teeth.
- Getting into bed.
- Sharing a bedtime story.
- Saying good night and going to sleep.
How to Help Your Toddler Sleep Through the Night
If you’re having trouble establishing a sleep routine, or your 14-month-old is not sleeping through the night:
- Keep to a consistent routine. Take the same steps at the same time every evening.
- Turn off all screens an hour before bedtime.
- Be firm and consistent with your child. Don’t let them get up again one night and then expect them to stay in bed on another night.
- Give your child some control. For example, offer two books to choose from or let them pick from two sets of bedclothes.
- Let your toddler take a bottle to bed.
- Engage in vigorous play in the last hour before bed.
- Watch or tell exciting stories.
- Check in too often – 30 secs every 10 to 15 minutes is plenty