Learn how to survive toddler sleep regression
When babies and toddlers seem to have mastered sleeping through, what causes this to change?
After those restless first few months with your baby’s sleep, your little one may be long passed this. Yet once toddlerhood arrives, sleep regression can start up and you feel like you’re back to square one.
What is sleep regression?
Sleep regression is common even into toddlerhood and in simple terms, it’s the name for the period of unsettled sleep at night after a period of sleeping soundly through the night. It often comes out of the blue and sees your toddler regularly waking frequently at night. In fact 18 months, is a common time for a milestone sleep regression stage.
Common causes for 18 month sleep regression
Although it may not be easy for you to understand why your toddler’s sleep has regressed, there is always a cause that will relate to their mental or physical development.
Here are some of the most common reasons:
Teething: You may have been through many teething stages before now, but around this age, your toddler’s canine teeth will be cutting through and these can be the most painful of all and cause pain in the night causes them to wake up.
Growing independence: Your toddler is getting older and probably more independent letting you know in no uncertain terms when they don’t want to do something, and quite often this is going to mean that bedtime is a struggle.
Separation anxiety: From around 10 months old your little one may have already become aware of when they are away from you, even if you are just in the other room. But it’s not uncommon for some babies to experience this later at the age of about 18 months. Going to bed at night can upset them as they know you are not staying with them and if they wake in the night the anxiety comes back as they realise again you’re not there.
How do I deal with my toddler’s sleep regression?
The truth is there is no ‘fix’ for sleep regression and your little one will start to sleep for longer over time, after all, they need their sleep as much as you do.
Helping them understand what bedtime is all about can help. Creating a quiet, consistent lead up to bedtime will help them calm and start to realise they’re tired. A bath followed by a storybook with dim lighting can create this. So stick with it.
Don’t feel forced to drop a daytime nap thinking this will make them sleep longer at night, it’s often not the case. Sleep regression does pass, and if your toddler is really tired in the day, forcing them to stay up can simply cause them to get overtired and then they mayfight sleep at bedtime even more.
Be patient. It’s really hard when you’re not getting the sleep you need, so try and work out ways you and your partner can take it in turns to get up in the night, lie in the morning or take short naps to. It won’t last forever, your toddler will start sleeping longer and so soon will you!