What is a toddler sleep cycle?

You asked and you shall now receive. It’s only fair for us to share all of this stored up knowledge about a toddlers and what happens when they start toddling (and talking)! We now will answer, in a very public forum, all of those burning questions about children in their second year. Each Wednesday, we will tackle a commonly-asked-question from the point of view of a parent with a toddler. Chiming in to give her feedback will be an expert who has been there and done that. Earmark, share and add your own input to today’s question; it’s good karma.

What is a toddler sleep cycle generally?

Expert: Marsha Greenberg

Toddlers, like all of us, cycle in and out of sleep phases through the night. When toddlers are in a light sleep pattern they are prone to awaken and learning how to fall back to sleep takes time. If your toddler sleeps between 11 and 12 hours a night it is good. Some toddlers need more sleep some less. Try to evaluate what your toddler needs. Is she waking up and seeming well rested? Is she able to play comfortable in the morning without feeling to distressed or upset?

Most toddlers just take one nap and naps can be anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. If your toddler takes cat naps try to move bed time up a bit to help ease late day fatigue and meltdowns for all of you.

This is a good overview book about sleep for children newborn through adolescence: American Academy of Pediatrics- A Guide to Your Child’s Sleep.

Marsha Greenberg M.S., M.S. W

Marsha is a therapist in New York City. She is the author of the newly released book, Raising Your Toddler, by Globe Pequot Press. She has masters degrees in Child and Family Development and Social Work from the University of Michigan. As the Director of the Health Systems Child Care Program for over 14 years, she was responsible for over 250 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years of age. Marsha teaches in the Early Childhood Special Education department at NYU and has a private psychotherapy practice in NYC. Marsha is the mother of three grown sons and has three grandsons (aged 4 and 18 months and 4 months) with a new grandchild on the way.


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