By this point in time, you’ve probably dealt with several sleep regressions with your baby. Maybe you’ve been successful in getting your baby to remain slumbering throughout the night, or maybe you haven’t. Regardless of your success or lack of it, sleep regression shows its ugly head once again. Maybe you notice that your child is suddenly trying to fight sleep and naps. If any of this sounds familiar, then you might be asking yourself what 18-month sleep regression is and how can I deal with it?
Let’s dig into it, shall we?
18-month sleep regression can happen at any point between 18 to 24 months of your child’s age. Your child may yet once again show problems with sleeping. Some children seem to struggle with sleep regression immensely, while others seem to zip right through with few issues at all.
If your child is around 18 months old, you should aim for them to get around 13 or 14 hours of sleep each day. Naptime should consist of about 2/2.5 hours total, while they should aim to get around 11 or so hours throughout the night. Children at this age usually will begin to only take one nap during the afternoon.
Because many children experience sleep regression in numerous and varied ways, it might be tough to notice a trend or signs that are leading up to it. Maybe you notice that your child is much more demanding or irritable. Below are a few signs of 18-month sleep regression that you should look out for including:
You might be in panic mode right now trying to find a solution that works. My daughter’s just about 16 months old at this time, and I wanted to prepare as best I possibly could for the upcoming potential disaster. I decided to dig into 18-month sleep regression to find everything that I could and how to handle it. My daughter has been doing pretty great for the last few months in terms of sleep, but I know all it takes is one period of regression and all that hard work will be useless.
Similarly to 12 and 8 month old sleep regression, 18 month sleep regression is also caused by important and developmental milestones that your baby recently went through or is currently going through. Rapid changes in their body and mind, the way they think, and what they’ve achieved are all factors that could bring about sleep regression. Let’s try to understand what 18-month sleep regression is and how we can get through it.
At this time, your baby is beginning to be a lot more independent and is exploring their brand-new world as much as they possibly can. Your ever-growing child is probably already learning how to eat independently with eating utensils, drinking out of cups, and many other newly learned abilities and skills. Your little one (now quite big!) might already have some friends at this point! All of these newly gained abilities and skills tend to not make your child want to stay in their bed and go to sleep at the times that they typically did. They’re so excited…just about everything!
There’s a good chance you’re already very familiar with separation anxiety, what it is, what it entails, and how to deal with it. If you had a child who never experienced any sleep regression at all, then you might be a little confused. When you aren’t around them or nearby, they will experience anxiety where they will want to know where you are and be as close as possible to you. This is why separation anxiety typically gets worse around this time. Your child is growing and growing and you’re simply not going to be with them all the time. This leads to difficulty sleeping and staying asleep, simply due to the fact that they’d rather be with you than sleeping!
If your child hasn’t switched over to two naps each day to just a single nap, then this might also be another reason why they are experiencing sleep regression. Perhaps they are still trying to transition, or maybe they’re fighting and don’t want to.
Just like 12-month-old sleep regression, teething can still be a major problem for your child’s sleep. The pain from teething can affect them right when they want to sleep and cause both you and your child to be restless as a result. Unsurprisingly, one of the main causes of 18-month sleep regression is actually teething. Nerve pain is very painful so it makes sense that your baby is having a tough time dealing with it. Pain causes discomfort, discomfort causes difficulty in sleeping and falling asleep or staying asleep, and this results in your child not sleeping.
During this time, children go through numerous developmental changes as mentioned before. By now, your child may be transitioning to a single nap, which could be difficult for them to transition to. Many recent studies have shown that your little one’s circadian rhythm and their biological clock will gradually change once they transition into a toddler. The change can vary, but can be as long as an hour. So, essentially you have to do some trial and error and try to figure out when their new biological clock for sleep is set to. It also means that whatever sleep training you were previously doing, is very likely going to be ineffective at this point, due to the shift in their biological clock. So now, your toddler will often be alert and awake leading right up to their biological bedtime. This might make them restless, and they’ll start to put up a fight when it comes to sleep. Their sleep cycles will still be changing way later than you might think. The bulk of the changes are happening now though, and this is why finding a solution to 18-month sleep regression is so difficult. Between separation anxiety, teething, mental and physical changes, nap transitioning, and much more all going on at once, sleeping is going to be very difficult for your child. Let’s try to find out what we can do to get through this difficult time!
First of all, don’t try to put your child to bed if they are showing signs that they aren’t even remotely tired. Stop wasting your time and energy with little to no results. If your child isn’t willing to sleep, then it doesn’t matter what you do or say: they will still wake up during the night. However, you might have to experiment quite a bit to try to find the sweet spot for their biological bedtime. Hopefully you’ve been keeping a journal, or at least know what times that they generally fall asleep at. Try to average together what time they fell asleep the previous week and try to put them down for bed during this time. It might be something that you aren’t used to or time much later than you expected, but if it gets them to sleep, then it is the “right” time. Once you do find the right time, you’ll be able to adjust accordingly from there. Simply do what you’ve been doing with sleep training, continue putting them to sleep at the same time, and make attempts to move bed time earlier in short increments such as 15 or 20 minutes. Once you find a time that works for not only your baby, but for everyone in your house, hold onto it for your dear life, and try to not exceed a 30-minute window of putting them down at the same time each night.
Because your toddler has all of this new energy, they want to spend as much of it as they can and experience as much of life as they can. Try to let them be a little involved in their bedtime. What I mean is that you can give them a little freedom so that they can use some of that new energy on their bedtime/routines. You don’t need to go overboard here, but simple things like asking them to be involved in the process can go quite a long way in helping them change their focus a bit. Have them do simple tasks, such as bringing their toy to their crib, or let them pick which story to read or what pajamas to wear for the night. This will let them know that they do have some say in terms of their own bedtime, but it still lets them realize that you are still in charge and that they still need to go to bed at the times that you set.
Bedtime routines don’t mean much if they keep changing every night. Because your child doesn’t know what to expect, it will be much more difficult to try to convince them to go to sleep at a specific time. Like mentioned above, it’s important that you get them involved with their own bedtime, but don’t give them too much control. Lay out the rules and guidelines in a clear way that is easy for them to understand if you haven’t done so already. Maybe you can try to explain to them once again through quick words, or quick pictures even. Maybe you can have pictures of their nighttime routines, and ask them which happens when, so that during the night, you can sort of help them lead themselves and understand when sleep time is approaching. Your main goal should be to focus on establishing rules that they should follow prior to going to bed.
Sadly, there will be some parents who don’t have any luck with any methods that they try. Their child is simply resistant to everything at this moment in time, and there is no solution other than starting all over again. Regardless of what specifically is giving your child a difficult time, just start back with what you know works best. Be consistent, determined, and keep at it for several weeks and you should eventually see your hard work pay off. Remember: you sleep trained them before, went through sleep regression before, and are the most experienced you have been EVER in your parenting life. You’ll be able to get through this faster than you might give yourself credit for, and you and your child will soon enough be able to enjoy a glorious night of sleep!
A: If there was a universal answer, then parents would have a lot less problems with sleep regression! The simple and most straightforward answer is it entirely depends on what your child is experiencing.
Depending on the specific issue, it can range from a few days to weeks, or even months. Everyone experiences sleep regression in their own unique ways.
A: Some people prefer the Cry It Out method for dealing with 18 month sleep regression, while others might prefer other methods. However, depending on what exactly is causing your baby’s 18 month sleep regression, the Cry It Out method might be effective, or it might not.
If your baby is teething, then there will be very little you can do to help, other than letting time run its course. In other situations where your baby’s sleep regression is caused by separation anxiety or other issues that you can control to a degree, then the Cry It Out method could be effective for 18 month sleep regression.
Do any parents out there have any helpful tips on how to deal with 18-month sleep regression? Some may get through it swiftly, while others struggle immensely. Have any of you found any tricks or secrets that you’d like to share to help other parents out? I’d love to hear because when it comes to my daughter and sleep, I try to be as knowledgeable as possible. Thanks!
Hi everyone, I'm Elizabeth. My beautiful daughter Alice keeps me awake occasionally...but when I'm busy and can't sleep, I post parenting tips and different ways you can get your baby to sleep soundly through the night, and even naps!
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