All children are different and so they should be – but a normal bedtime for a child aged two and a half is between seven and eight at night. It's also normal for a child aged two and a half to lie awake for a while in the evening, talking and playing alone, and then to wake between five and six in the morning.
When getting your child to fall asleep at night becomes an ongoing challenge, this can be a sign that it's time to drop the daytime naps. This period can be tricky. Everyone gets tired because their routine has been changed. But you'll find a new routine after a while. The best indicator that your child is getting enough sleep is that they are not tired during the day.
Two signs that it may be time to drop the daytime naps:
• Your child is still awake an hour after you put them to bed during the day.
• You miss a daytime nap and your child handles it without a problem.
How to handle those difficult last few hours of the day
You can influence your child's night-time sleeping by adjusting the length of their daytime naps. The main problem with giving up daytime naps is that initially your child is completely worn out towards the end of the day. You feel really sorry for them when they're so tired they can barely stay awake. Try moving dinner time and bedtime forward slightly. Remember hat this is a transitional period – it will get better.
How to help your child sleep at night
The hardest time is when your child still needs a nap during the day but then can't sleep at night. Or the other way around – they don't need a nap, but fall asleep in the car or pram.
• Try to still let them nap for a while but have the same bedtime as earlier, before you started trying to drop the nap.
• Give your child some books at bedtime, and let them look at them for a while before they fall asleep.
• Remember that not all children fall asleep as soon as they get into bed. Some need to wind down for up to an hour.
Quiet time instead of a nap – for everyone
One way of winding down for a while during the day without actually sleeping is to introduce “quiet time”. Look at some books together or do something else peaceful. Make sure you give yourself a break as well. Try listening to a story or just cuddle up and chat.