Once you get your baby sleeping through the night you might think it’ll be smooth sailing here on out… except, babies turn into toddles and go through four major sleep regressions before the age of 2-years-old. The 18 month sleep regression and 2 year old sleep regression can have you pulling out your hair and your patience quickly evaporating. With the help of a sleep professional, you will survive the 18 month sleep regression and know how to steer your child through a 2 year sleep regressions without losing your mind.
Whether your baby “slept like a baby” or not, toddlers can come with a whole new set of sleep problems. 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 two year sleep regression that gives parents the most trouble. Today we’re giving you tips to get through them.
18 Month Sleep Regression
At 18 months old, your toddler is starting to go through another round of development that 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 this 18 month sleep regression, there are a few things to know to get through this phase:
- It generally 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 check out our 10 survival techniques for more tips.
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.
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 old 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!
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.
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 two year sleep repression period. And, remember, your toddler will grow and develop, 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.
Routine Cards Help Toddlers With a Consistent Bedtime Routine
Routine cards are a wonderful way to help kids remember what comes next, whether it’s for the morning, bedtime or an entire day. These printable routine cards come in boy and girls styles and include chore cards, and our online store offers printable morning and bedtime charts with coordinating routine cards.
This is a Guest Post 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.
Visit the member’s area and see the benefits of the Baby Sleep Site. I used the Baby Sleep Site with my third child who hit every sleep regression that exists – the help getting her back on track was invaluable!
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