Toddler Napping Schedules: Improving the Quality and Consistency of Sleep

For toddlers, naps are a necessity to get through the day! A massive hurdle for many parents is consistent nap-time. When your baby is first born, napping is relative; every couple of hours, your baby will go down and sleep.

As your baby gets older, less time is spent napping until your child doesn’t need nap-time anymore. This commonly takes place at age 4 or 5. Until then, ensuring your child is getting quality naps is imperative.

Three Factors for Quality Nap-time

There are many things that you, as a parent, can do to ensure that your toddler is getting quality naps. A big part of nap-time is knowing when to put your child down for a nap.

  1. Nap-time Cues: help to indicate when your little ones are ready for a nap.
  2. Environment: make sure that the surroundings your child is exposed to are conducive to napping.
  3. Consistency: being consistent in timing and location, as well as any pre-nap routine.

Learning how to manage nap-time will make a big difference in your quality of life and the well being of your child.

Nap-time Cues

Cues are clear indicators that your child is ready for a nap. When your baby is not sleeping at the same time every day, you need to rely on these cues to know when to put your baby down for a nap. Once your baby is a little older, you can still rely on these cues to know that they’re ready for that nap.

Mood Change

One cue that your child is ready for a nap is frowning and a general mood shift toward grumpiness. Any facial expressions that indicate discomfort and irritability are clear indicators.

Physical Signs

Several other more common signs of sleepiness include rubbing of the eyes or ears, partially closed eyelids, yawning, and becoming much more clingy.

Over Compensating

As a means of compensating for tiredness, your child may also begin to make lazy or uncoordinated movements, just like we do when we’re sleepy! Your little ones are likely attempting to compensate for their lack of energy.

These signs are clear indicators of a need for sleep. Paying attention and identifying these signs early on will help make sure your child goes down before they are overtired and struggle to get to sleep

Sleeping Environments

Having an environment that supports nap-time is very important to ensure that your toddler reaps all the benefits of nap-time. One rather obvious step you can take to ensure that your child sleeps well is to make sure that the room that they’re sleeping in is dark.

Lighting: It shouldn’t necessarily be pitch-black, but dark enough to mimic nighttime. This is so your child can establish sleep habits around darkness rather than getting acclimated to sleeping in daylight.

Ultimately, nap-time will go away, so your child needs to make a smooth transition from sleeping during the daytime to sleeping solely at night.

Noise: Another consideration is to have low, consistent white noise to help drown out sounds that may occur during nap-time. There are a variety of noise machines out there, many of which include little nightlights or stars that dance across their ceilings. By dulling the noise that is made within your home, you will minimize the risk of waking your little ones up.

Regardless of being a child or adult, using a white noise machine can be a great addition to any sleep routine.


You do not want to overdress or excessively cover your child during nap-time. This helps prevent them from overheating while they sleep. Your little ones should remain cool yet comfortable throughout their nap-time.

For ideal sleep, it is recommended for the room temperature to range between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Consistency is Key

Consistency is essential as your child begins to establish sleep habits. Try hard to keep nap-time to one place: the crib or bed. If your child falls asleep in the car or the stroller, that’s ok! However, an over-reliance on these devices may hurt your child’s ability to associate their bed with sleep.

Newborns are unable to tell the difference between the night and day, so their sleep schedule is more reliant on how long they have been awake. Consistency, as far as timing, is an excellent way to make sure that the quality of sleep is maintained once your baby is old enough to nap by the clock.

Routine: A pre-nap routine is also a great way to prepare your baby for a nap. For example, try singing a specific gentle song before every nap. Eventually, every time your toddler hears that particular song, their body will begin the process of preparing to take a nap; simply due to the association!

Sleep habits are an essential part of getting quality sleep, for both adults and children. Consistency is the key to establishing these habits.

Summary of the Day

You want to do everything in your power to make sure your toddler is getting the most out of their naps. Do your best to be attentive when it comes to your child showing signs that they are ready to take a nap.

During nap-time, the environment needs to support sleep, which is why consistency is critical in forming those good sleep habits. Establishing good sleep habits will make nap-time come more smoothly and will help your child stay asleep throughout their nap.

It’s important to remember that your toddler will someday be old enough not to need nap-time and just sleep through the night.

Until then, nap-time is necessary. It is also a welcomed time during the day for parents, especially so you can try to get a few extra things done around the house!