Your Top Toddler Sleep Questions Answered

From when to move your toddler to a bed, to how to handle nightmares, our sleep expert tackles toddler-related sleep woes


Your toddler is developing her own little personality. She’s growing and learning and while this can be a really fun age for parents, it can also be a time when battles begin and boundaries are pushed. One common struggle is sleep and bedtime. I’ve put together the most common sleep questions I get asked from parents of toddlers and answered them just for you.


My two-year-old has stopped taking her nap.  Is she ready to drop it?

Naps can end as early as two years of age, but typically they stop all together at three to four years.  If you find your child is fighting her nap, I recommend still keeping at least an hour of quiet time as long as possible – preferably until your child enters full-day school. It’s a great way to for her to recharge and it’s some good down time for mom and dad too.  Fill a “quiet time” box with books, puzzles, and toys.  When it’s quiet time have your child choose one of the toys where she can happily play with it in her room. She may even end up falling asleep for a bit.

 How and when do I transition my toddler from their crib to bed?

Transitioning your child from crib to bed can be a terrifying time for parents. Suddenly he is free to escape and roam about the building. Waiting until your child is ready can help make the transition a seamless one. If he’s not climbing out you can leave him in his crib until at least three years of age – and I recommend you do so. At this age he will understand the sleep rules better. It’s also important that mom and dad establish a plan together. Sit down with your partner and develop your own strategy for when things pop up during the process. This will help you to be consistent with setting limits, which is key to a successful transition.

What do I do when my toddler had a nightmare?

A child’s bad dreams can be brought on by things they see on television, books you read or conversations they overhear. If your child is more sensitive and has a bigger imagination she can be more prone to nightmares. The important thing is to offer a lot of comfort and reassurance. Hug her and cuddle her and tell her everything is going to be okay and importantly try to keep the comforting in her room – as it’s important that she knows her sleep environment is safe and secure. Stop nightmares before they happen by limiting scary television shows or books right before bedtime. If your child is having frequent bad dreams, you need to explore the source of fear or anxiety.

My toddler keeps coming out of his room.  How do I keep him in there?

This is where I like to incorporate some tricks of the “sleep” trade. Positive sleep props like a toddler alarm clock can visually cue him that it’s still bedtime and he needs to stay in his room. It also shows when he’s allowed to either come out of his room in the morning. A bedtime routine chart helps organize the down time required to prepare your child for sleep. Setting limits can be the toughest to implement, but necessary If he comes out of his room, lead him back again every time, with little to no engagement. You may have to do this over and over again throughout the night, but provided you remain consistent in setting those boundaries, after a few nights he will get the message. 


Alanna McGinn is a Certified Infant and Toddler Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site.  She is a mom of 3 (1 + twins!) and is committed to helping families with their baby and toddler sleep needs., @GNSleepSite, 

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