A sleep regression is a period of time when a baby or toddler goes through a developmental leap. Your little one who has been sleeping great, on a consistent schedule, napping like a pro, and maybe even sleeping through the night, may suddenly start waking up at night, skipping naps or even waking early from naps for no apparent reason. And it typically happens just when you think you have this sleep thing all figured out.
What is the 18 month regression?
Just like with the other sleep regressions you've likely experience up until this point, your little one may begin waking up at night and waking more frequently during day time naps. You will also see some resistance to taking naps.
Why does the 18 month regression happen?
Because you now have a walking, talking, opinionated toddler. This regression is all about independence, including deciding when they want to sleep and when they don’t want to. Throw cutting a first or second set of molars into the mix, and you’ve got yourself one doozie of a sleep regression. But guess what? This regression is so exciting because your tiny toddler is learning how to express their independence!
If your child hasn't already transitioned to one nap, it's likely about time to make that transition. Most toddlers are ready for a full 1 nap schedule at this point. Check out THIS POST for a free 1 nap schedule!
How does sleep change?
Expect this regression to last 2-6 weeks, just like the others. Some kiddos actually breeze right through this regression without any issue, others not so much. Remember that even though your toddler may all of a sudden seem to regress into not sleeping as well, but remember it’s temporary.
How do we survive?
Stay consistent! If you have an already independent sleeper, then the key to maintaining that during this regression is for your child to always falling back asleep independently. During overnight wake ups, go into the room and make sure everything is okay. Then immediately begin your sleep training method.
Any time your toddler should be sleeping, but is awake, have the same response you would any other time. If sleep trained, then use your sleep training method here.
Give your toddler some opportunities to practice their independence. Let them choose what books to read, toys to play with, clothes to wear, songs to sing, etc. This gives them the opportunity to check our their new independence without it interfering with sleep. If separation anxiety is coming into play again, remember this is a very real feeling and be compassionate and patient with your little one.
Nap refusals and regressions
It's common for naps to suffer during any sleep regression. Your 18 month old may suddenly begin skipping their nap, playing and chatting in their crib instead, or taking short naps and waking up early from them.
Treat this nap refusal as a regression and not a nap transition. Most toddlers still need to nap until sometime between 3-4 years old.
On no nap days, move bedtime up by at least 1 hour to help prevent your child from becoming overtired. This will also help to prevent overnight and early morning wake ups!
If you need help sorting through your baby's sleep, set up a free 15-minute consultation with me to discuss my sleep solutions!