How Long To Leave Toddler in Crib if Not Napping | Answered!

The toddler age introduces you to a child who is old enough to move around but not make sound decisions about where they go.

That’s why many parents are tempted to leave their toddler in the crib even if he’s not napping.

It’s an area that offers confinement so you don’t have to worry about your little one getting into mischief.

Is it okay to leave toddler in crib awake? Yes, it is okay to leave your toddler in the crib awake as long as you follow some guidelines and put time limits in place. Your child does not need to be left alone for long periods of time, but some downtime in the crib if your child is happy is usually okay.

How long you decide to leave your toddler awake in the crib will depend on your personal beliefs and some common knowledge about kids.

Leaving Toddler in Crib Guidelines and Considerations

When you’re trying to decide if it’s a good idea to leave your toddler in the crib while he is awake, consider the specific circumstance you are facing and how your child is responding.

How Long To Leave Toddler in Crib To Fall Asleep

There’s no hard rule for how long to leave your toddler in their crib to fall asleep.

Some parents check in every 10 minutes while others let their child have quiet time in the crib until they eventually drift off to dreams.

It’s wise to use a baby monitor to see how your child is doing, and you can take them out of the crib if it seems like the nap is just not coming that day.

How Long To Leave Toddler in Crib After a Nap

Twenty to 30 minutes is the longest you want to leave your baby in a crib after a nap, and you only want to do this if they are content to be there and not calling for you.

Benefits of Alone Time for Toddlers

When your toddler gets alone time, he learns how to entertain himself. He may also learn to self-soothe, and this can lower the stress he feels when alone.


Every child is different, and every parent has their own goal when it comes to crib time for their toddler.

There are things to consider when deciding how long to leave your toddler in a crib awake.

A toddler standing up in his crib holding onto the side rail after a nap.

1. Is He Content or Crying?

If your child is content in his crib, then he’s probably fine. If he is crying and screaming, then you need to make sure he’s safe.

When a child won’t stop crying and also responds negatively to being in a crib, you can work to make it a better place that he enjoys. 1.

However, if left in there to cry continuously, he may start to have negative associations with it.

2. Does He Really Need a Nap?

If your toddler doesn’t really need a nap, there’s no reason to put him in his crib expecting him to sleep. Let him get a bit tired first.

3. Toddler’s Age

A 1-year-old needs more sleep than a 3-year-old. Adjust how often and how long you expect your kids to nap as they age.

4. Does He Have Ways To Entertain Himself?

Toddler-safe options, like board books or stuffies, will give your child something to play with while they try to sleep. These options can keep them from feeling alone.

5. Is He Calling for You?

A child who is calling for you needs to be checked on by a parent.

Whether your child is looking for emotional or physical support, you should come when they have a need and are specifically calling for you.

6. How Will the Day’s Schedule Be Affected?

Look ahead to your day’s schedule, and figure out how alone time in the crib, especially if your child is unhappy, is going to impact the rest of the day.

It may be worth it to step in and help your child nap if missing the nap will derail things later.

7. What Kind of Precedent Do You Want To Set?

Do you want the crib to just be for sleep or also a place your child sees as a play area?

Are you worried that if your child sees the crib as a place where they whimper and cry alone for a period of time each day that it will have negative associations and impact their sleep?

These are all things to consider before you decide how you want to use the crib for alone and sleep time.

What To Put in Crib for Toddler?

Once your child is past the age of one, the risk of SIDS goes down. At that point, you can put safe stuffed animals, board books, and other items in the crib with your toddler to help keep them entertained. 

Make sure you don’t put anything in your child’s crib that he could choke on, and don’t put anything he can use to climb over the edge of the crib and fall out. 

When Should Toddlers Stop Napping?

Most parents would like the answer to this question to be never, but most kids transition out of napping between the ages of three and five.

I had one kid stop napping at two-and-a-half while another napped until they were almost five.

Related Questions: 

Why Does It Take So Long for My Toddler To Fall Asleep?

There are a lot of reasons your toddler may take a while to get to sleep. One is that they can’t turn their little minds off since they are at the stage where they are learning new skills at an alarming rate.

You may also be trying to put them to bed too early or expecting them to nap more often than they need to for their age.

It’s also possible that your child is still too wound up before sleep time, and a consistent sleep routine to prepare your child for rest could help.

Should I Wake My Toddler From a Nap?

This is a controversial question among parents, but the answer isn’t one-size-fits-all.

If your child is taking naps that are so long that they negatively impact their night sleep, you might want to wake them up after a certain time to ensure they will sleep that night.

Longer naps mess with some kids’ sleep but don’t seem to affect others.

Final Thoughts

Follow some basic safety guidelines when leaving your child in a crib, and make sure to check in on them at reasonable intervals.