How Much Sleep Does a 16-Month-Old Need?

Baby smiling in bed with eyes closed and arms out.
Child sleeping in bed with stretched arms (Image: Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images)

When your child reaches 16 months, she should be sleeping steadily through the night, although still needing a nap or two daily. More important than the hard number of hours, however, is watching your child's behavior to assure she gets sufficient sleep. While she is past sleep disruptions, such as colic or the need for constant feedings, she is susceptible to some sleep problems seen in older children.

Identification

At 16 months, your child should be getting about 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day, according to the pediatric professionals at the KidsHealth website. In general, this includes nap time during the day and sleep during the night. This is an average, not a strict guideline, as the amount of sleep needed will vary from child to child. If your child sleeps a few hours less than that amount but does not show signs of sleep deprivation, he is probably getting enough sleep.

Obstacles

A number of factors can interrupt your child's sleep when she is 16 months old, according to the U.S. National Sleep Foundation. Your child is becoming more proficient in walking and talking, and now can get out of bed on her own, so she might be developing an independent streak. Her imagination is beginning to develop at this point, so she might have problems with night fears and nightmares. She also might experience separation anxiety when away from you.

Considerations

If your 16-month-old has trouble sleeping, the University of Michigan Health System recommends making bedtime a special and consistent routine. Read him book, tuck him in or create your own special bedtime routine. Your tot should be able to fall asleep in his bed on his own. A security toy like a blanket or piece of your clothing is an acceptable aid, but filling the child's bed with toys or using television encourages bad sleeping habits. Letting the child sleep with you also will disrupt his sleep pattern in the end.

Benefits

Ensuring your child gets enough sleep at 16 months promotes both her short-term and long-term health, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Sufficient sleep will help your child develop a healthy attention span and a more pleasant demeanor. Healthy sleep habits also make it less likely your child will be overweight. If you child develops good sleep habits before her toddler years, it is more likely she will keep those habits throughout her childhood.

Warning

Sleep deprivation can lead to numerous health problems, so the University of Michigan Health System recommends learning to recognize the signs in your 16-month-old. If your child falls asleep every time he rides in the car with you, he might not be getting enough sleep. Similarly, if he has problems waking up in the morning, or sometimes falls into a deep sleep several hours before his regular bedtime, it could be a sign of sleep deprivation. Constant bad moods also could derive from a lack of sleep.

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