Set the right 16 month old sleep schedule and your toddler will take 2-3-hour naps and sleep through the night for 11-12 hours! Many toddlers this age are taking just one nap or moving in that direction. Without the right schedule, many 16 month olds will wake frequently at night. This article will share everything you need to know about your 16 month old’s sleep schedule to help them sleep longer and be happier!
In this article:
- How Much Sleep 16 Month Olds Need
- 16 Month Old Sleep Schedule Wake Windows and Awake Time
- Sample 16 Month Old Sleep Schedules
- Why 16 Month Olds Wake Up Too Early
- Why 16 Month Olds Wake Up at Night and Can I Do Sleep Training?
- 16 Month Old Sleep Schedule FAQ
How Much Sleep 16 Month Olds Need
Most 16 month olds need 13-14 hours of sleep per day including 11-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during the day. At this age, toddlers are sleeping through the night and taking 2-3-hour naps.
Of course, some toddlers will need more or less than the average amount of sleep. So, if your toddler is sleeping more or less than 13-14 hours in a 24-hour period, if they’re happy, it’s likely fine. The best way to know if your toddler is getting enough sleep is to look at their mood, behavior, and other signs of over-tiredness. Although toddler tantrums are common, overtired toddlers tend to have more of them.
16 Month Old Sleep Schedule Wake Windows and Awake Time
The wake window at 16 months, or awake time, is usually 5 hours both before and after their nap. If they are prone to taking a 2.5 to 3-hour nap, you might see a 4.5-hour wake window before and/or after their nap.
If you are an unlucky parent and your toddler “only” sleeps 11 hours at night and “only” two hours during the day (13 hours total), your toddler’s wake window could be 5.5 hours before and after the nap. This is one of the more difficult schedules for many families at this age, though it gets easier as they approach 18 months old!
How Many Naps Should a 16 Month Old Take?
Most 16 month olds take just one nap. Note that the average age to transition to one nap is 15 months old.
If your toddler isn’t ready for just one nap, that’s okay! Instead, use the 14 month old sleep schedule.
The best thing to do is wait to see signs of dropping to one nap before changing their sleep schedule. This is because transitioning too early can cause night-waking and other sleep problems.
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Should You Wake Your Toddler if Napping Too Long?
There are only a few scenarios that might mean you should wake up your toddler from napping too long:
- If your 16 month old is napping for 2 to 3 hours each day and sleeping through the night: No, you should NOT wake them from their nap.
- If your toddler is waking up too early the next day such as 4 or 5 a.m. and sleeping less than 10 hours: Yes, you may want to wake them up from their long nap. However, if your toddler is sleeping for 10+ hours at night and waking up too early, you might simply want to shift their schedule forward, instead.
- If your toddler is awake in the middle of the night for an hour or longer: We call this “baby insomnia” or a split night. If your toddler is still taking two naps, this is a sign it is probably time to drop a nap (see above). If your toddler is taking just one nap, it might mean they are napping too long during the day though that generally only happens if the nap is 3+ hours.
- If your toddler is taking two naps but not ready for a 1-nap schedule: Yes, you may want to shorten one or both naps to help manage the schedule before you transition to one nap fully. Again, see our 14 month old sleep schedule post for more details.
What Time Should a 16 Month Old Go to Bed?
The most common bedtime for a 16 month old is 7:00 to 8:00 PM.
False starts can occur if you set your toddler’s bedtime earlier than 7:00 PM. In this case, they wake up 30-90 minutes later as if bedtime was a “nap.” If your bedtime is later than 8:00 PM, your toddler could become overtired and this can cause an early-waking problem.
If bedtime is earlier or later than the typical range, and sleep is good in your household, there is no need to change it.
Sample 16 Month Old Sleep Schedules
The right 16 month old sleep schedule can help your toddler sleep through the night, nap longer during the day, and be happier, overall. Use these sample schedules to help you find the right one for your unique situation.
Sample 1-Nap Sleep Schedule
In my 15+ years of experience as a sleep consultant, 16 months is a common age to be on a 1-nap schedule or transition to it. Keep in mind that if your toddler takes “just” a 2-hour nap (which is completely normal), you will want to stick to 5-hour wake windows and strive for a 12-hour night.
However, if your child takes a 2.5 to 3-hour nap, you can offer a 4 to 4.5-hour wake window before their nap and 4.5 to 5 hours of awake time before bedtime (or vice versa if it works better for them). This works best for toddlers sensitive to over-tiredness.
If your toddler is sleeping 11 hours at night and napping for “just” 2 hours, you might need 5.5-hour wake windows. It all depends on how much sleep your toddler needs in total. Don’t be afraid to embrace your child’s uniqueness!
Here is a very common 1-nap schedule to consider:
|Time||Wake Window||Activity||Sleep Length|
|12:30 PM||5 Hours||Nap||2 to 3 hours|
|7:30 PM||5 Hours||Bedtime |
(Asleep by this time)
* Should You Wake Your Toddler? On a 1-nap schedule, there isn’t as much of a need to wake your toddler and you can usually let them sleep. However, if your toddler is routinely sleeping longer than 12 hours at night and taking short naps, you may want to limit nighttime sleep to “leave some” for the daytime. Their total sleep will stay relatively constant so some toddlers can sleep “too much” during the day or night which negatively impacts the other.
Sample 1-Nap Sleep Schedule With Meals
Again, many clients want to know how to fit meals in to set up their toddler for success in sleeping through the night and taking long, luxurious naps. Here’s a typical 1-nap schedule with meals:
|Time||Wake Window||Activity||Sleep Length|
|8:00 AM||Breakfast + Milk|
|10:00 AM||Snack + Milk|
|12:00 PM||Lunch + Milk|
|12:30 PM||5 Hours||Nap||2 to 3 hours|
|3:30 PM||Big Snack + Milk|
|5:30 PM||Small Snack |
|6:30 PM||Dinner + Milk|
|7:30 PM||5 Hours||Bedtime|
(Asleep by this time)
|11 to 12 hours|
* Should You Wake Your Toddler? On a 1-nap schedule, there isn’t as much of a need to wake your toddler. You can usually let them sleep. However, if your toddler is routinely sleeping longer than 12 hours at night and taking short naps, you may want to limit nighttime sleep to “leave some” for the daytime. Their total sleep will stay relatively constant so some toddlers can sleep “too much” during the day or night which negatively impacts the other.
Download the sample schedule below by clicking on it and then right-clicking:
Sample Toddler Schedules By Month For All Ages
Did you know we have sample toddler schedules by month for all ages? Check it out!
What Should You Do If Your Toddler Can’t Sleep 12 Hours?
First, know that even if your toddler never slept 12 hours at night on a 2-nap schedule, it doesn’t mean they won’t when on a 1-nap schedule. My son only started sleeping 12 hours at night once we transitioned from two naps to one nap! Make sure you give them 2-3 weeks to adjust to the new schedule before you give up!
If your toddler can’t seem to sleep 12 hours at night and you’ve given them at least two weeks to adjust, you might need to adjust your wake windows to be longer than is comfortable for the time being. Usually, it’s best to have a shorter wake window before the nap and a longer one after the nap, but not always. You might need to experiment, though, because, over the years, I’ve seen all different types of schedules work!
Why Some 16 Month Olds Wake Up Too Early
If your 16 month old is waking up at 4 or 5 am, there are a few common reasons:
- Overtiredness at Bedtime – Is your toddler’s wake window is too long before bedtime? This is the #1 reason for waking up too early. Shorten the wake window right before bedtime. If your toddler wakes up crying, this is the most likely reason.
- Hunger – Offering dinner too early (e.g. 4:30 or 5:00 PM), is a common reason for waking up too early. Ideally, dinner will be no earlier than 6:00 PM, if possible. While some toddlers can go 13 hours without eating, some toddlers simply can’t.
- Sunrise – We are meant to rise with the sun and go to sleep with the sunset. Unnatural light has made all of our bedtimes later than natural. Children who are sensitive to light could wake up too early when the sun starts to shine through their windows. Consider room-darkening shades, blinds, or curtains.
- Schedule Change – If you are still giving your 16 month old two naps, it’s probably time to drop one.
Although there are a few other reasons your toddler could be waking up too early, these are the most common culprits.
Why Some 16 Month Olds Wake Up at Night and Can You Do Sleep Training?
There could be many reasons causing your toddler to wake up at night. While you can do sleep training, that doesn’t fix every cause. Be sure to solve the right problem and check out our article Top 15 Reasons Your Baby Is Waking at Night.
16 Month Old Sleep Schedule FAQ
No, it is not too early for one nap for most 16 month old toddlers.
16 month olds nap for 2 to 3 hours total every day.
Many 16 month olds take just one nap though a small percentage are still taking two naps.
Daytime sleep for 16 month olds should total 2 to 3 hours.
Wake windows for 16 month olds are usually 5 hours before and after their nap.
A typical bedtime for a 16 month old is between 7:00 to 8:00 PM.
If you recently transitioned to one nap, the most likely reason your 16 month old is waking up crying every night is that bedtime is too late. Move bedtime earlier by 20-30 minutes to see if it improves.
The average age to transition from crib to toddler bed is 3 to 4 years old so we highly recommend you keep your 16 month old in a crib. Be sure to read When and How to Transition from Crib to Toddler Bed.
No, there is typically NOT a 16 month sleep regression. More than likely, your toddler is changing their sleep schedule which might appear like a sleep regression.
There could be many reasons your toddler is waking up at night. While you can do sleep training, that doesn’t fix every reason. Solve the right problem! And, be sure to check out our article Top 15 Reasons Your Baby Is Waking at Night.
Toddlers should drink 16-20 oz of milk per day until they are 5 years old according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although cow’s milk is the most common, there are many options nowadays. The type of milk you offer should have a minimum of 8 grams of protein per serving. So, be careful about milk substitutes and the amount of sugar.
Generally, you should not need to give your child under 3 years old melatonin. Instead, put them on the right schedule. If your toddler’s bedtime is too late or your toddler is taking too long to fall asleep, it’s likely because it’s time to drop a nap.
There isn’t a set age for children to stop napping. Generally, most toddlers need to take at least one nap until 3 to 4 years old, on average. So, yes, 16 months old is too early to stop napping.