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How much sleep babies and young children need

2 to 5 years

Every child is unique and needs a different amount of sleep. The information below is based on average amounts of sleep.

A good night's sleep is a very important part of your child's health.

By about 2 years

Your child needs about 11 to 12 hours sleep a night.

They need 1 nap during the day for between 1.5 to 2 hours. Try not to let your child nap beyond the mid-afternoon (3.30pm). This will help them to be tired and ready for sleep again by night time (7pm to 9pm).

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From about 2 to 3 years

Your child needs around 11 to 12 hours of sleep a night.

They need 1 nap during the day of up to 1 hour. The length depends on your child and their activity that day. Try not to let your child nap beyond mid-afternoon (3.30pm). They need to be tired and ready for sleep again by night time (7pm to 9pm).

From about 3 to 5 years

Your child needs around 11 to 12 hours of sleep a night.

At aged 3, they may need 1 nap during the daytime of up to 1 hour. Not all children need this nap. Some quiet time reading and playing may be enough.

When your child comes home from pre-school or their childminder, they may be very tired because of the routine and activity there. This is especially true when they start attending pre-school.

Holidays or illness or a change in routine can often upset sleep. Try get them back into a good bedtime routine as soon as you can after the event.

Bedtime routine

A consistent bedtime routine will help your child to know what to expect. It also helps them to feel secure and loved.

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When to put them to bed

Don’t put your child to bed too early.

A child should fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed.

You may need to make bedtime later for a while until they can do this. Then gradually bring bedtime back by 15 minutes a night to the bedtime you want. Keep to the same morning wake-up time while you do this.

Anytime between 7pm and 8pm is a good guide to settle your child down for the night.

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page last reviewed: 04/05/2021
next review due: 04/05/2024