Your baby was sleeping perfectly, naps were great and your bedtime route had your toddler sleeping through the night… until he wasn’t. Between 4 months and 2 years, there are four sleep regression stages and the 18 month sleep regression and 2 year old sleep regression are major ones!
Learn from a sleep professional how to survive the 18 month sleep regression and what to do if the 2 year sleep regression strikes. How to get through these painful toddler sleep regression phases and back to better sleep, plus snag your Survival Guide for Sleep Regressions and getting back to sleep.
Sleep Regressions Ages: the 18 Month Sleep Regression & 2 Year Old Sleep Regression
Whether your baby “slept like a baby” or not, toddlers can come with a whole new set of sleep problems and the 18 month sleep regression and 2 year old sleep regressions are big ones.
You would think it might get easier as our children grow older, but, in fact, toddlers can be headstrong, go through stages of separation anxiety, decide to stall bedtime, start waking up too early and decide napping is for suckers.
Your toddler is probably beginning to get a taste of independence and you might be hearing things like “Me do it!” So, why is it that she doesn’t want “me sleep myself?”
That would just make too much sense and we all know toddlers don’t always make sense. In fact, toddlers can be downright confusing and their sleep is no different.
So, what are the two most stressful sleep regressions for toddlers?
There’s a 18 month sleep regression and another, the 2 year sleep regression that gives parents the most trouble.
Today we’re giving you tips to get through them.
If You’re in a Hurry or Looking for Quick Sleep Regression Wins…
What is the 18 Month Sleep Regression?
At 18 months old, your toddler is starting to go through another round of development which can disrupt sleep quite a bit.
Around this age, he may begin waking quite frequently at night or staying awake for long periods in the middle of the night.
Sometimes, naps can be problematic too, such as short 30-45 minute naps or he wants to take his nap too late in the day.
During the 18 month sleep regression, there are a few things to know to get through this phase:
- Generally this sleep regression stage lasts about 3-4 weeks (6 at the most). Try, try, try not to make long-term habits for a short-term phase or your regression might “last months.”
- Your toddler could be getting hungry in the middle of the night, again. It’s takes a lot of energy to do what toddlers do every day at this age! Make sure you are offering 3 meals and 3 snacks every day.
- Sometimes canine teeth are cutting through. Not fun! Revive your teething strategy.
- You’ll want to stay consistent so that your toddler continues to be independent with sleep. Yes, we want to be sensitive to all he’s going through, but in the end, if you’re consistent, you will get through this regression MUCH faster!
Be sure to nab the Surviving Your Child’s Sleep Regressions Ebook for an explanation of sleep at every age and 18 survival tips to help you through the 18 month sleep regression and 2 year old sleep regression.
What is the 2 Year Sleep Regression?
Phew! You made it through the 18 month sleep regression.
You finally feel like yourself again, only now your toddler turns 22-24 months and you may start to have sleep problems again.
Yikes, here comes a toddler sleep regression.
At two years old, you might see your toddler skip naps all together, suddenly “need” you to stay in the room while she falls asleep, take waaaaaay longer to fall asleep at bedtime, or climb out of the crib. Yikes!
You might just be in the middle of the 2 year sleep regression. Here are our best 2 year old sleep repression tips:
- First, let’s talk naps. When it comes to naps at this age, my #1 piece of advice is DON’T STOP OFFERING THE NAP! One big mistake I see people make is deciding that their 2 year old doesn’t need naps anymore since she started skipping them every day or crying so hard you think she will never fall asleep.
- Skipping some naps or maybe even all naps for a short period of time is just a phase 95% of the time. It might last 2-3 weeks but if you’re consistent then your toddler might go right back to napping.
- There are a rare few who may actually be done napping, but most will need a nap until 3-4 years old, on average, and there are some who start Kindergarten at 5 years old still napping. Don’t give up on your 2 year old’s nap too soon!
- When it comes to “needing” you in the room to fall asleep… All children have peaks and valleys when it comes to the dreaded Separation Anxiety. This is a peak. So, be sensitive and restore her feeling of security. And, then GET OUT of the room!
During this sleep regression stage, you will need to get back to the routine soon, otherwise, you will be in the room at bedtime for weeks…months…even years.
When it appears the separation anxiety is subsiding and now she just wants you there, it’s time to ease out of the room and get her becoming more independent again.
This is usually around the 3 or 4 week mark.
Don’t Change Schedules During a Sleep Regression
And, finally, we often see a schedule change around 2 years old.
Some toddlers this age are ready for more awake time. You might actually believe them when they say, “I’m not tired.” Yes, toddlers stall for no reason ..but… sometimes they actually need more awake time.
While at 18 months, most toddlers can stay awake about 5 hours, some 2 year olds are ready for 5 ½ to 6 hours. But, watch carefully since overtired toddlers tend to have more tantrums, wake at night, and wake too early.
Hopefully these tips will help you survive the 18 month sleep regression as well as the 2 year sleep regression. And, remember, your toddler will grow and develop, this sleep regression stage will fizzle out and it won’t be this way forever.
If you do fall off the wagon and end up in a mess, just remember it’s never too late to make new, better sleep habits.
Download Your Routine Tracker – The Starting Place for Creating a Better Routine and Great Sleep Habits
This Sleep Regression Guest Post is from Nicole Johnson, owner of The Baby Sleep Site
Nicole Johnson is a married mother of two wonderful boys and owner of The Baby Sleep Site. When her eldest son was born, he had a lot of sleep problems – he would wake every one or two hours, all night long! She got busy and thoroughly researched literature and scientific reports until she became an expert in sleep methods, scheduling routines, baby developmental needs, and more. She overcame her son’s sleeping issues in a way that matched her own parenting style, and knew it was her mission to help other tired parents “find their child’s sleep”. If you have your own sleep issues, Nicole and her team at The Baby Sleep Site® can help! Download the popular free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night, to get started today.
Vivian Lopez says
The post is very useful. Thanks for sharing!
I think my son is going through a sleep regression; he is 22 months. He has always been very good at going down in the evening to sleep. The last couple of days he has been getting very upset when we put him down. The other night I finally decided to put him down (after two hours past regular bedtime) and let him just cry it out. Is this a good or bad method? He cried for about 12 mins and then was out. Although it was very stressful to listen to him cry plus who wants to fall asleep crying…nobody. I didn’t know what else to do. FYI he was falling asleep in my arms and I am trying to avoid putting him in the bed with me.
This is quite comprehensive.