18 month sleep regression
Your baby was sleeping well, naps were awesome your evening and bedtime routine meant your toddler slept through the night … until 18 months rolled around.
Between newborn and toddler hood there are four sleep regressions and the 18 month and 2 year sleep regression are the major ones!
Here's some sleep tips and explanations on these two regressions.
Sleep Regressions Ages: the 18 Month Sleep Regression & 2 Year Old Sleep Regression
Whether you had a dream baby, or you've struggled since birth with sleep, toddlers present new challenges and unique sleep problems, and the 18 month sleep regression and the 2 year sleep regression are two of these problems.
You might imagine sleep gets easier as babies get older, but...toddlers are stubborn, and strong willed. Combine this with separation anxiety, bed time delay tactics, early starts and nap refusal and you have and you'll soon understand how easy your baby was.
Your toddler is likely getting a taste of independence, and you are beginning to hear phrases such as "I do it", "mine", and "No!".
But unfortunately this doesn't necessarily mean your toddler will successfully apply this independence to their sleep. That would be too simple for us parents.
Lets look at some tips and explanations around both the 18 month sleep regression and the 2 year sleep regression.
What is the 18 Month Sleep Regression?
Around 18 months, toddlers start to enter yet another round of growth and development, and along with separation anxiety and language development, we get disrupted sleep.
Signs of the 18 month sleep regression are frequent night wake ups, or prolonged periods of wakefulness in the night.
Often naps will regress back to 45 minute cat naps, or you might have nap refusal.
What do you need to know?
- Toddlers can become hungry at this age and stage and start to need more protein and good fats in the day. Offer 3 meals and try to include protein in two of these meals. Eggs, chicken, cheese, milk, yoghurt, legumes, and mini meat balls are all great protein options.
- This regression lasts around 4 weeks at the most, so try to avoid any new long term sleep habits developing in this phase. Establishing a new sleep crutch or assisting to sleep will likely result in this regression/phase lasting months.
- Toddler teething can play a roll in this regression, but assess your childs temperament in their day time hours, if they are playing happily pain free, it is un-likely that pain is causing their wake ups at night.
- If your goal is for your toddler to maintain their independent sleep and settling abilities, be consistent and patient.
- Understand that separation anxiety is playing a role in your child's sensitivity, be there for them, but try to sit by them, and not climb into their bed. Sit with them, comfort them, wait while they fall asleep, try not to assist them to sleep, they haven't lost that skill.
More tips for the survival of the 18 month sleep regression
- Perfect your bed time routine, don't drag it out. 30-45 minutes is enough time for a bath, pj's, and a feed. Have a consistent and definite end to your bed time routine, lights out, a special phrase and leave. These verbal and non verbal cues help your toddler know its time for sleep.
- If you are serving up an early dinner around 4.30/5pm, try offering a small protein based snack around 5.30/6pm before the bed time routine. A small amount of porridge, peanut butter on 1/2 a piece of toast, or some cheese. This snack and a bottle or breastfeed before bed will get your toddler through to breakfast without being hungry.
- Keep your babies room cool enough for quality sleep. A fan or air conditioning in summer, and not too much heating in winter. All humans, babies, and toddlers, sleep better in a room around 16-20 degrees.
- Stop and Listen: Listening to a baby cry is difficult, listening to a toddler cry is a different ball game altogether. But waiting before you rush in and rescue your toddler the first time they fuss or cry will give them time to self soothe back to sleep.
- Ensure your toddler has a comfort item like a cuski, a sleepytot or a special blanket or soft toy. These comfort items always help children in times of separation anxiety.
- You may also have to try a night light as this can be comforting for toddlers. The red light from a red or orange based night light is best as these don't disrupt the production of melatonin.
- Try to stay consistent with your nap routine, don't drop a nap, and try to avoid over tiredness sinking in.
If you need some help with self settling and getting back to awesome toddler sleep patterns, try the TODDLER SLEEP ONLINE PROGRAM . Our program comes complete with free email support from our sleep consultant team.
What is the 2 Year Sleep Regression?
6 months fly by and you've survived the 18 month sleep regression, your back to sleeping all night, then suddenly you have a 2 year old!
Welcome to the 2 year sleep regression.
Symptoms of the 2 year sleep regression include your toddler completely skipping there nap, and wanting you to stay in their room while they fall asleep.
2 year olds can take up to 40 minutes to fall asleep, and while 100% normal, this is very frustrating for busy tired parents at bed time.
Survival tips for the 2 year sleep regression
- A common mistake is for parents of 2 year olds to quickly drop their nap when they start to protest the nap. Most 2 year olds still need a good 1-2 hour nap in the day. Without this day sleep, we see lack of emotional regulation, and the terrible twos tantrums begin.
- Most toddlers will drop there nap between 2.5 and 3 years.
- Understand the nap strikes are normal and are not a sign your toddler is ready for no naps.
- Separation anxiety can be dealt with sensitivity without having to stay all night with your toddler.
- Try pop outs, emotion cards or children's sleep meditation, these are all explained in our toddler sleep program. Click here to view it.
- Extend your toddlers awake time by 30 minutes, and ensure your toddler is physically tired every evening by allowing plenty of outside physical play each day.
These tips should help you and your family survive both the 18 month sleep regression and the 2 year sleep regression.
If you need more practical strategies, sleep plans, self settling approaches or nap plans, check out the online sleep program for toddlers.
Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
Our Baby Sleep Program helps tired parents TO DEVELOP HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS BY FOCUSING ON NAPS, SETTLING AND NIGHT SLEEP.
- Empowered: Feel empowered as a Mum as you learn to understand your growing baby's needs and cues.
- Simple effective settling: Gentle, proven self settling, evidence based techniques.
- Content happy baby and parents: Better sleep creates content babies & happy parents.
- Freedom: Predictable routines and longer nights creates freedom. Solve your sleep problems for more freedom.
- Work with your babies circadian rhythm: Work with your babies biological clock for faster easier results.
- Awesome naps & nights: You'll create consistent naps and nights with our support.
Try our online sleep program, complete with FREE email support.
My baby has reflux can you help?
When your baby has reflux, feeds can be difficult and your baby can be in a lot of pain both during and after feeds. This pain can cause feeding aversions and failure to thrive. This is why true GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) needs to be treated by a doctor. Once your baby's doctor is satisfied your baby is feeding well, and you have the right medication or formula then we can start a sleep plan and you will be successful.
My baby has colic will this help?
Colic is defined as 3 or more hours of crying per day in infants. Crying subsides in the second second trimester. If you are still experiencing colic symptoms speak to your baby's doctor about whether this could be reflux, an allergy, or over tiredness. We can help you work on better sleep with this program at the same time as your doctor investigates the pain and crying.
What if the program isn't working?
We have a dedicated help line to ensure your success. Just email our team via the details in your program and a certified, experienced and friendly sleep consultant is ready to stare you in the right direction to ensure your success!
My baby was born early, can you help?
Sleep is neurological so we always work off your babies neurological age, that is their corrected age. When you look at our sleep programs purchase the program that your babies corrected age fits into.
What if I have questions or need more help?
Our sleep programs come with private email support. You don’t have to post in any public forums or groups, just email the exclusive helpline that our team of certified sleep consultants look after and we’ll answer all your questions and help you on your way.
Can this program help with my babies night sleep?
Yes, all our online sleep programs contain night sleep plans. We will teach you how to move from multiple night feeds to 2 or 1 or none (depending on what is age appropriate and appropriate for your baby.) Don’t worry we will show you to figure this out too. If your baby is unsettled at night but not feeding, our plans will help you with consolidate night sleep and self settling when age appropriate.
My baby is cat napping can you help?
Cat napping is a very normal physiological stage that your baby goes through. At this stage (3-8 months old), cat napping can start to be a long term issue and compound into over tiredness and affect night sleep and your babies happiness. Good news, this is a great age to work on re-settling, self settling and better longer naps!
I have 3 children, can this work with my family?
I totally understand how busy life is with 2, 3 or more children! Even if you need a flexible schedule we can still work on settling regular naps (some on the go!), and better evenings and night. Flick our consultants any specific questions about your family's schedule of activities and we can help you work out what is possible nap wise.
I don't want a fixed routine, can you still help?
Yes. A fixed routine is one option, regular naps and regular awake times is another. Both are valid and you are welcome to do what works for your family. We understand you are all different and what works best for one family won't be best for another.
I'm formula feeding, can you still help?
Yes we have specific advice for formula feeding parents, and we support your decision to feed any way you choose. We even have a special video series on formula feeding and everything you need to know. Just ask our consultants about this extra if you need it.
I'm exclusively breastfeeding, can I follow your plans?
Yes! While breastfeeding babies need to feed frequently they still need quality sleep day and night. We have specific advice for breastfeeding mums and an exclusive discount on Julia Daleys breastfeeding course if you need extra help.
I'm bed sharing, can your program help me stop?
Yes. We often fall into bed sharing, we call this reactive bed sharing. Or we have simply changed our mind, and moving on from bed sharing we need some support. Our programs and consults will guide you through gentle sleep methods, which are more appropriate for most bed sharing babies who are moving towards independent sleep in the cot.
I'm feeding to sleep, can you help me stop?
Yes. Feeding to sleep is a common sleep association and one that works well for lots of newborns. Often we need to move on from feeding to sleep when it starts to cause short naps, or prolonged settling or frequent night wake ups as baby looks for their association to go back to sleep over and over again at night. We can teach you how to teach your baby to self settle and move on from feeding to sleep when the time is right.
I'm rocking to sleep, is their a solution?
Yes. These are common sleep associations, we refer to this as assisting to sleep. Let us show you ways you can develop independent sleep and settling strategies with our online sleep program, or one on one consult.
Is this program based on Cry It Out?
No. Cry it out is the common name for a sleep training method where you put baby down and don’t respond or check until they are fast asleep. There is no CIO involved in this program as we feel this should be only done under proper supervision. Instead we have included all our very gentle approaches and more mainstream techniques for you to choose from.
Is this based on Science or Art?
Both! As a scientist I (Emma) have spent over 8 years researching the science of sleep. I have educated and certified over 500 consultants around the world as sleep consultants, and have worked with thousands of clients. I love the scientific explanations of why we see the sleep patterns we see, and this science helps us to shape plans and solutions that we know will work. But there's an element of art to getting a baby to sleep, understanding the right combination of things that will work best, and this is where your instinct comes in.
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