If you have a child, you’ve probably heard about toddler sleep regression. This is a phase in children’s lives when they stop sleeping well and start waking you up every once in a while.
It happens when they are 1.5 years old and every toddler goes through it. That’s why the 18-month sleep regression is a widely known topic because every parent has dealt with it.
The truth is that toddler sleep is something that is very important for their overall development and when it is disturbed, your child won’t react well. They’ll often wake up cranky and act like they don’t know what they want.
It mostly happens during the child’s leaps, which means that they’re going through certain changes.
Most of them include brain and overall development. If your baby is going through a leap, it means that they are growing, which can manifest in sleep regression.
Also, things like teething, separation anxiety, potty training, or moving to a big kid bed are all life changes that can affect your child.
The most important thing during the whole process is to listen to the needs of your little fellow and to respect them. I know it won’t be easy for you to get up a couple of times per night and be up for work the next morning, but things like this will pass.
Even if this is not so easy to endure, there are some ways in which you can make it easier for your little one and yourself.
1. Educate yourself about sleep regression
The most important thing is to educate yourself about the things that happen to your little one. There must be a reason why they wake up in the middle of the night. If your toddler is going through an 18-month sleep regression, you should pay attention to the things that happen in their lives.
Is your child maybe teething or have they started going to kindergarten and therefore suffer from separation anxiety?
Did you try to start potty training them or have you moved them to a big kid bed? All these things can affect your child and you are the only one who can help them.
If your baby is teething, try to make it easier for them. Kids can be impossible to put up with when getting molars. You can talk to a pediatrician so they can suggest something or you can simply give them extra love and spend more time with them. Every child will feel it and it will be a positive change in their life. Everything is easier to overcome if a mommy is there, right?
The same goes for potty training, moving to a big kid bed, or separation anxiety. Maybe your child isn’t ready for all those changes, so make sure that you are careful about new changes, however small they are. Trust me, they all can affect your little one more than you think.
If they have night wakings and didn’t have them before, something’s off. And it is you who needs to find out what exactly.
When kids go through developmental leaps, they need different things. You can easily find out what they need if you spend more time with them and track them carefully.
2. Make healthy sleep patterns
Once you realize that your toddler has sleep regression, you need to create some routines. First of all, you need to work on good sleep patterns with your child. Try to make a bedtime routine that will work for both of you.
Your child doesn’t know what time it is, but they know what happens after, for example, dinner. Make some rules that you’ll stick to. You can have dinner with your toddler, move on to bathing, read them a story, and then put them to bed.
That way, they will know their schedule and stick to it. Of course, they may still wake up a couple of times during the night, but try to remain calm and give them the comfort they need.
You can, for example, cuddle with them until they fall sleep again. That will help them know mommy is there and they’ll feel much safer. And yes, it will in turn help them overcome every problem much easier.
3. Don’t freak out
Even if you are terrified and don’t know what to do, do what you can to remain calm. The worst thing to do is freak out. You won’t help your child in that way, nor you will help yourself.
If your child has sleep issues, the best thing you can do is to stay calm. Try to reassure them with your presence and have a lot of patience. Your child will feel if you are nervous or cranky – which is never a good way to solve problems – so try to calm down.
Yes, you have a small problem, but it’s not the end of the world. There are so many things that you can do to make it easier. But the most important one is to be calm for the sake of both you and your child.
The rest will come naturally. If your child has many night wakings, make sure to be with them all the time. You can bring their crib into your room (if they are already sleeping in their own room). In that way, they’ll feel soothed and it’ll be easier to sleep better when they sense your closeness.
Your toddler’s sleep is an important thing and you should do all in your power to improve it as much as you can. I am sure your child will feel that you are helping them and they will overcome that phase much easier.
4. Don’t make any major changes in your toddler’s life
Okay, you’ve realized that your child is going through some changes and you’d like them to go off diapers. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but now’s not the right time to do it. The same goes for moving your child to a big kid bed or starting with potty training.
If you can help it, it would be better to postpone these major changes. 18-month sleep regression is kind of a big deal and your number one priority is just being there for your child. You’ll have enough time to deal with all these things at a later stage. But the most important thing right now is to foster good sleep habits for your little one.
Your child was probably a good sleeper before, but they’re going through some severe changes right now and as a result, their sleep schedule has changed. But if you give them all they need to overcome this phase, they’ll be just fine.
5. Ask for some help regarding your toddler’s sleep
There are people who just can’t solve the problem on their own and turn to some help. Many parents go crazy when something like this happens and have no choice but to seek a sleep consultant for advice.
Just know that there is no shame if you choose to do so. If you’re not sure of the best way to help your child, you can ask a sleep consultant. They will explain all about the sleeping process of your 18-month-old toddler.
Also, you’ll get some tips and tricks on how to make it easier for both of you. It’s no joyride to have a child with sleep regression and then have to go to work every morning – exhaustion will kick in after a mere week. That’s why a professional can really help you and tell you what you need to pay attention to.
Sleep problems are the same for a 2-year-old child as an 18-month-old. Both of them will wake up many times during the night and ask for mommy. So, the best thing you can do is simply be there and show them that this phase will pass too.
6. Reduce day napping
One of the things that can help your child’s sleep is reducing day napping. If your child sleeps less during the day, they will sleep better during the night. As simple as that. But in case they can’t make a day without a nap, just make it a bit shorter.
If they, for example, sleep one hour during the day, decrease it to half an hour. Naptime exists only to “reboot” your child, so they can get some energy to continue with their daily activities.
It doesn’t exist for them to get enough sleep, because that would mean they won’t sleep at night. It’s not uncommon to expect some tantrums during this phase, but that’s normal. Just remain calm and be patient until it is over.
Once you change your child’s bedtime routine, they will change their behavior as well. But in all this, the most important thing is to listen to your toddler’s needs. They’ll subtly tell you what they need, so you’re able to help them.
7. 2-year-old sleep regression happens more than you think
Many parents believe that sleep regression happens when your child is around 18 months old. But every kid is a story for themselves. Some of them will be younger, while others will be older when they start having sleep issues. It is individual and every child has some symptoms that are characteristic for them only.
Some will have tantrums all the time, while others will want your undivided attention. The most important thing is that you recognize their needs, and that you give it to them (within reason, of course). I know it will be hard to understand them and there may be times that you’ll think you can’t do it anymore, but it will eventually get better.
Trust me, every time you spend some time with your child during this phase, they will feel it. It will mean the world to them to have you there during their awake time. Because mommy is always the best person to spend time with whenever something is not right.
8. Make sure they always go to sleep with their lovey
Kids often have some comfort or transitional objects they bring to bed to feel safer. Those items can be teddy bears or small figurines. I suppose your child has one or more like that, so always make sure to put them to bed with them.
In most cases, they themselves will ask to sleep with their loveys because it means so much to them. And when your child is going through a sleep regression, it’ll be a little easier for them to overcome it because their favorite toy is there – just like mom. Even if things like this maybe don’t seem that important to you, they indeed are for your baby. So, try to provide them with things that make it easier for them to go through this process.
9. 2-year-old sleep regression is a story in itself
Maybe you thought that every sleep regression is the same, but the truth is that 2-year-old sleep regression is a bit different. It’s a time when your little one goes through some changes in their life.
Some kids at this age start going to preschool or spending more time at kindergarten with new friends. Some of them get so playful that it seems they need less sleep, but that always backfires. If they don’t have naptime, chances are that they’ll be cranky for the rest of the day.
They will need naps until they are around 5 years old. And that won’t change no matter how energetic they are. That’s why you should be persistent and put your little one to have a nap even if they protest. When coupled with a good naptime routine, I’m sure they will talk for about 5 seconds before falling asleep as they’ve been running all day long.
10. Reduce watching TV before sleep
The worst thing you can do is to watch TV with your kids before sleeping. The screen has the ability to keep them awake and full of energy while they watch it, which means only one thing – they won’t go to bed that easily.
That’s why you should have a bedtime routine with them. Turn off the TV at least one hour before they go to bed and give them your full attention. You can play lego, color in a coloring book, or something else they like that’s lowkey. You can use coloring books and see how they do things like that.
Trust me, you can learn a lot about your child if you just give them more of your time. Your child will slowly prepare for bed because there won’t be anything to catch their attention. You can add bathing, changing into pajamas, and telling them a story to your evening routine.
That will teach them to follow the rules when you say it’s time for bed. A good night’s sleep can help your child feel full of energy, which will manifest in a better mood. And that’s what’s most important, right?
So, after all the fuss about toddler sleep regression, all you need to know is how to remain calm and provide your little fellow all they need during that phase.
Your child will sense if you’re stressed out and you’ll feel exhausted after just a couple of days of freaking out. I know it’s hard for new moms to go through something like this, but just be patient and everything will go back to normal sooner than you think.
There are also some great mom support groups online where you can get all the info and support you need. When you see that other moms struggle with this issue it will be a little bit easier because you can help each other.
When you have any sort of help, everything is easier. No matter if that is your partner, your family, or kind strangers in different mom groups, you will feel calmer.
Just like your child needs help and understanding, so do you as a mom. So, don’t hesitate whether or not to ask someone to help you – do it.
Sometimes you have to tell fathers to help you because they won’t come up with the idea right away. Perhaps they think that they can’t calm your child after they wake up, but if they try it a couple of times, I am sure it will be just fine.
Just bear in mind that this phase can last for a couple of weeks and it is extremely important how you will behave. If you are happy, your child will sense it. If you’re mad, your child will feel it as well.
That’s why you should educate yourself about this issue in time and be ready for anything that may happen during the process.
And after the finish line, you will see that you made it. You still have common sense. Your baby is happy and healthy and you are moving to the new chapter of your lives.
Because everything is easier when you do it in a team. And you and your toddler are rocking it!