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Toddlers, Naps and Sleep

Expert Q&A


Updated January 29, 2005

Q. Can toddlers get too much sleep at night? Lately my 13 month old girl has been skipping naps during the day and sleeping a really long time at night. For the past to weeks she has frequently gone to bed around 5pm and slept until 8am (15 hours). Last night she slept from 4pm to 8:30am (16.5 hours). I know this is a problem other parents would probably wish for, but I'm starting to wonder why it's happening.

My daughter is extremely active and is quite tall for her age (90-95 percentile), but is only in the 50 percentile in weight. Right now I am assuming the she is sleeping so much because she is very active and is skipping naps. If this is a normal amount of sleep how long will it continue? Haley, Alberta, Canada

A. Most toddlers still take naps, so their total sleep time is split between a long stretch overnight and 1 or 2 naps during the day.

At 13 months, for example, most toddlers sleep about 11 hours overnight and take 2 naps of about 1 1/2 hours each, for a total of about 14 hours. If they get all of that sleep overnight, they may skip naps, but that probably isn't a good idea.

One common problem at this age occurs when a child begins to switch from 2 daytime naps to just one. Although this doesn't happen until about 18 months for most toddlers, some do it as young as 9-12 months. And when they skip that morning nap, they may be so tired and fussy in the afternoon that they may end up skipping that nap too. In this situation, by early evening, they are so tired, they may sleep extra long overnight.

Since she is sleeping much more than average, and it sounds like this is a new thing, you likely should see your Pediatrician to make sure she isn't sick or that something else is going on. It may be that this is just a phase or that she just came out of a growth spurt or something, but with such a big change in her routine, a check with your Pediatrician would be a good idea.


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