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21 Month Old Sleep Schedule

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Article by:

Cara Dumaplin

RN, BSN, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

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Your 21 month old is making strides towards big milestones. You’re likely hearing more words from your toddler and possibly a few two-word phrases. They’re eager for you to see and hear all they can do. Let me share all about sleep at this age, including naps, regressions, a 21 month old sleep schedule, and more.

The 524 Month Collection

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My 5-24 Month Collection will give you a step-by-step, customizable plan to establish great sleep for your 21 month old. You’ll remain emotionally connected to your little one while helping them achieve 10-12 hours of overnight sleep and restorative naps. You’ll have the confidence to handle bedtime battles, separation anxiety, illness, and any other bump along the way.

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What are wake windows for a 21 month old? anchor

For a 21 month old, wake windows are about 4-6 hours. 

Here’s a guide to setting up a daily routine for your 21 month old:

  • About 5-6 hours after Wake Time = Nap 

  • About 4-5 hours after the end of the Nap = Bedtime

How long should a 21 month old nap? anchor

When your toddler is 21 months old, our goal is one consolidated nap lasting 2-3 hours. If your toddler’s nap lasts until the three hour mark, you'll want to wake them. Making sure that nap doesn’t exceed three hours allows for enough active awake time for great night sleep and keeps bedtime in the sweet spot of 7:00-8:00 pm

If your 21 month old is struggling to get 2-3 hours of daytime sleep, my Conquering Naps class can help your little one get the restorative daytime sleep they need.

21 Month Sleep Schedule Guidelinesanchor

Every little one is unique and your toddler’s day will depend on when they wake, how long they nap, and individual cues. Try aiming for these age-appropriate guidelines. These are not intended to be a rigid schedule, simply a guide for setting up a flexible routine. 

21 month guidelines

Daytime Feedings: 3 meals, snacks as needed

Goal Daytime Sleep: 2-3 hours

Sweet Spot Bedtime: 7:00-8:00 pm

Number of Naps: 1

Wake Windows: 4-6 hours

For more details on these recommendations, keep reading.

What is a sample sleep schedule for a 21 month old? anchor

I’d like to share a sample 21 month old sleep schedule with you. Keep in mind that this is just an example and your days will likely vary based on when your toddler wakes, how long they nap, and when they’re hungry. 

21 month old sample schedule
Text version of 21 Month Old Sleep Schedule table
Time Activity
6:20 am Wake
6:30 am Breakfast 
9:00 am Snack/Nursing (optional)
11:30 am Lunch
12:00-2:30 pm Nap
2:45 pm Snack/Nursing (optional)
5:30 pm Dinner
6:30 pm Snack/Nursing (optional)
7:00 pm Bedtime

How much sleep does a 21 month old need?anchor

At 21 months, we want to aim for 12-14 hours of total sleep in a 24-hour period. Our goal is 2-3 hours of daytime sleep and 10-12 hours of overnight sleep.

What time should a 21 month old go to bed?anchor

A bedtime between 7:00-8:00 pm is typically the sweet spot for a 21 month old. A bedtime in this range often leads to an easier bedtime and more consolidated night sleep. If your little one is going to bed before 7:00 pm or after 8:00 pm and sleep is going well, keep doing what works for your family. 

If, however, bedtime is after 8:00 pm and your 21 month old is having trouble settling down at bedtime, waking during the night, or waking before 6:00 am, try moving bedtime earlier for a couple weeks to see if this helps. 

There are also times when a bedtime before 7:00 pm may help with overnight sleep. I recommend an earlier bedtime (as early as 6:00-6:30 pm) if your 21 month old has a day when:

  • A nap was refused or short.

  • Daytime sleep was less than 2 hours total.

  • It’s been 4 hours since nap time ended and they’re really having a hard time making it to bedtime, especially if they’re sick.

What are some 21 month old milestones?anchor

Please keep in mind, these milestones are based on age ranges and every child develops on their own timeline. Be sure to check with your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your 21 month old’s development.

You may notice your 21 month old: 

  • Saying more words or even putting 2 words together to make a phrase (50 words by 24 months is the speech milestone for this age). Know that animal sounds, names, and sign language all count as words.

  • Trying out pretend play, like talking on the phone. (They may use a different object or their hand to imitate a phone.)

  • Walking, squatting, and running independently.

  • Throwing a ball forward. 

  • Showing signs of possessiveness, like telling siblings or friends “Mine!”

Expert Tip: As your 21 month old’s language increases, you may also see an increase in tantrums. Offering your toddler choices (when possible) can really help reduce tantrums.  

What are some activities for my 21 month old? anchor

Here are some easy and fun ways to spend awake time with your 21 month old:

  • Make a simple memory game. Print or draw 4 pictures of familiar objects or animals. Turn them face down and ask your toddler to find them. Example: “Where’s the dog?” When your toddler flips over the correct picture, leave it facing up, and repeat for the remaining pictures. 

  • Play in water! Make some different shapes out of sponges (or buy some premade sponges). Have your toddler squeeze water out of the sponges, while becoming more familiar with shapes at the same time. You can also use the sponges for sponge painting! (Safety Tip: Please be sure to closely supervise your little one with any water-related activity.)

  • Try a color matching activity. Color some craft sticks (or buy already colored sticks) and have your toddler match them to the same colored construction paper, a container of the same color (like a cup or bowl), or objects around the house that match the color. 

  • Practice making animal sounds and sorting with an animal farm game.

I have some favorite toys for 21 month olds here.

Is there a 21 month old sleep regression? anchor

It’s possible. Since every child develops at their own pace, it’s possible to see signs of a sleep regression at any age and for many different reasons. Typically, more common regressions happen around 18 months and around 24 months. Here are some reasons little ones may begin to struggle with sleep at 21 months: 

Expert Tip: Being comfortable is so important for sleep success. Any time a little one experiences changes in sleep, be sure they are not experiencing illness, teething or physical discomfort. Next, check the room environment. We want the room to be really dark (use code Cara for 10% off) and humming with a sound machine (use code CARA20 for 20%). Also check how your toddler is dressed for sleep, especially as seasons change. 

Please know, sleep regressions are temporary and typically last a few days to a couple weeks. The best way to move through a sleep regression with minimal disruption is to be consistent with your approach to sleep. So if you’re seeing some changes in your toddler’s sleep, stick with (or work on) healthy sleep habits.

Why is my 21 month old having more tantrums at nap time or bedtime?anchor

You’re not alone if you’re seeing more tantrums from your 21 month old. I understand how tough this can be, and I want to help. First, let’s talk about the reasons why your 21 month old has recently started protesting naps and bedtime:

1. Developmental progressionanchor

Your 21 month old is developing a greater understanding of cause and effect. This can look like testing boundaries and throwing tantrums. I know this can be hard, but keep in mind that testing boundaries and pushing limits is a normal (and necessary) part of toddler development!  

2. Big changesanchor

Any time your toddler experiences a big change, sleep can be impacted. If your toddler is starting daycare, expecting a new sibling, or experiencing separation anxiety, you may see more protesting around sleep. 

3. Struggles with transitionsanchor

Transitions can be hard for some toddlers (and adults too!). They don’t want to miss out on anything! Having a consistent routine for naps and bedtime can help. (Bonus Tip: consider introducing a visual timer or bedtime chart if your toddler has a hard time with transitions). 

Want a free printable toddler bedtime routine chart?
This downloadable chart includes BONUS tips on how to implement a visual bedtime routine with your toddler.

4. Daytime routine anchor

Your little one's wake windows during the day can affect naps and bedtime. On days where your little one’s nap was short or refused, your 21 month old may be overtired at bedtime. On the other hand, if they’re on the lower end of the age-appropriate wake window range, they may not be tired enough at bedtime.  If your toddler is overtired or undertired, they may protest or stall at nap time or bedtime.

5. Increased independence anchor

At this age, toddlers have a strong desire to influence the world around them. Offering age-appropriate choices will help give your toddler a sense of control. If they are in charge of decisions they can control, they're less likely to protest around things they can't control (like when it's time to go to bed).

If your 21 month old is struggling with sleep, my 5-24 Month Collection is a holistic plan that is fully-customizable to meet your family’s goals. I’ll give you a step-by-step plan for consolidated nights, solid naps, and all the bumps along the way while remaining emotionally connected through the whole process.

Still have a 20 month old? Check out 20 month old sleep schedules. Already have a 22 month old? I've got you covered with my 22 month sleep schedules.

Are you ready to have a great little sleeper?

If you're overwhelmed, exhausted, or just not sure where to start. I was there too. Let me show you everything you need to confidently handle sleep so your whole family can thrive!

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