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Common Toddler Sleep Questions and Answers

Toddler playing with an instrument toy

I was invited in as a guest on the Made by Mammas podcast to talk about my favourite subject – sleep! In particular, toddler sleep. We answered lots of questions from parents struggling with their little ones sleep and covered topics such as night waking, transferring into a cot, dropping naps, early waking and what to do when they get into your bed! Toddlers quickly learn to test and push boundaries when it comes to bedtime so I talk about staying strong and keeping things consistent.

Here are a few key topics & questions we covered in the podcast…

My little one is 18 months and has been co sleeping since birth – how do I move them into their own bed?

You will need to take a very gradual approach and for the first few nights it’s a good idea to camp in with them in their room. This helps get them used to sleeping in there and teaches them that it is a safe environment. You would then start to gradually retreat (for example, start off by the bed, then move to the door, then just outside the door etc) so you are lowering your level of support, all the while giving lots of reassurance. This gradual process can take around 2-4 weeks.

Is there a right or a wrong way to approach routine?

In short, no and we all have our own way of doing things which is absolutely fine but having a regular sleep routine with sleep cues so they know sleep is coming is really important to avoid little ones becoming over tired. For example after dinner you would maybe reduce screen time, quiet time, having a bath, reading a story to create a calm atmosphere. Being comfortable and happy will help them fall asleep.

Is it ok to introduce a night light?

The older they get, the more aware of their surroundings they become so asking for a light on or to leave the bedroom door open is very normal. Having a nightlight for your toddler is absolutely fine and if they are scared of the dark, reassure them that they are safe and you are close by.

What is the right age to move a baby/toddler from a cot to a bed?

Again there is no right or wrong answer – some little ones are 18 months and some are 3 years old. If they are happy and comfortable in their cot, it’s fine to leave them there. Especially if  you have one of the cot beds which are usually a decent size.

What are the signs that they might be ready to move into a bed?

  • If they can climb out of a cot

  • If they are asking to sleep in a big bed

  • If they have a sibling coming along and you need the cot it’s a good time to make the transition

  • If they have simply outgrown it

Should a toddler sleep through the night?

In an ideal world, yes but it is not unusual for toddlers to wake in the night. They become very aware of their surroundings. There are many reasons for night waking – scared of the dark, night terrors or nightmares, starting pre school/nursery, a new sibling, being over tired, they’ve dropped a nap etc – all these things can affect their sleep but keep reassuring them and stay consistent.

When to transition from 2 naps to 1?

Usually around 15-18 months they are ready to drop a nap. There are a couple of things to look out for: 1 – they are taking a long time to settle in the morning or are not going down at all.  2 – they are sleeping really well in the morning and having a much shorter afternoon nap. The afternoon nap is really important as this sees them through until bedtime so it’s best to drop the morning nap first.

When to transition to no naps?

All little ones are different, but generally between 2-3 years is when they drop their day naps. You will find they take longer and longer to fall asleep or they refuse to nap at all. It may be that they go a few days without a nap and then actually need one to catch up. When they start dropping their nap it’s a good idea to bring bedtime forward slightly to 6.15/30pm to give them time to adjust and avoid them becoming over tired. It is also a good idea to substitute the nap with ‘quiet time’ for example reading books or watching a film.

We also discussed the ideal bedtime routine, sleep training, sleeping bags/duvets, early waking, development leaps, weaning off a dummy and temper tantrums.


You can listen to the full podcast here – enjoy and I hope it helps! Sam x

Sam aka The Baby Guru

Made By Mammas

Instagram: @madebymammas

Facebook: @madebymammas


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