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toddler care

Why is my two year old waking in the night?

Sleep regression at two is another common one, these tips can help

What? Another sleep regression at two years old?

Afraid so, you may have thought sleep regression was a thing of the past, but another bout at around two years old is common

Sleep regression at 2 474

No one could blame you for expecting your little one to sleep through the night pretty much routinely by now. Sadly, this isn’t always the case and yet another round of sleep regression could be ahead of you.

The good news? This should be the last one. The bad news? It’s not always an easy one to overcome.

Reasons for sleep regression at two years old

Saying no to nap time

Although you would be forgiven for thinking your two year old is resisting nap time because they are becoming old enough to not need a nap anymore it’s not always the case. It can become part of sleep regression and as time goes on as they may they start to want to nap again, some children nap up to the age of four. The resistance can be because they are more aware of the world around them so don’t want to ‘miss out’ on anything but the truth is, most still benefit from a sleep in the day.

Awake for longer

Now that your little one has reached two, the amount of sleep they need is less than when they were a baby. A newborn needs around 16 hours of a sleep a day whereas a 2 year old needs about 12. If your two year old appears to be going to sleep later or waking earlier, work out how much sleep they are getting in a 24 hour period, you may find with a nap in the day it may just be a little too much sleep.

Separation anxiety

This common problem may rear its ugly head again as your little one reaches two and the upset of being left in the room alone may be the reason they are going through another bout of sleep regression.

Big changes

The age of two can be a time of big changes for your little one, possibly potty training happening around now or moving from the cot to a big kid bed. Some of these changes can feel quite overwhelming to children and can cause disruption to their sleep as result.

Ways to help you through the 2 year sleep regression

Comfort but don’t become a reliance

If your 2-year-old wakes go in and offer comfort with hugs and kisses and reassurance but be careful not to let your little one become reliant on you being with them to fall asleep as it may start a pattern of them finding it difficult for them to fall asleep alone. Your child is older now, so you can talk to them, remind them that you’re only next door and it’s time for sleep now.

Delay big changes

If you are starting potty training or planning to get your 2-year-old a grown up bed and then a stage of sleep regression begins, accept that perhaps it’s not quite the right time and delay these changes until your child is more settled.

Deal with night terrors

If night terrors are the cause of your little one’s waking in the night, talk to them and reassure them that there is nothing to fear. Help them deal with them by introducing a soft nightlight or musical mobile if that helps comfort them. 

Introduce rest time in the day

If your toddler is waking in the night and not sleeping enough but refuses to nap in the day although needs it, try introducing rest time in the day. Encourage your toddler to lay in their bed with some calm toys and books to encourage restful play but not trying to force them into napping.

Remember, this tends to be the last sleep regression for little ones, so bear with it and listen to what your child needs but encourage sleep and it will settle down again in time.


Why is my two year old waking in the night?