Toddler Sleep Regressions

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Your energetic toddler needs sufficient rest to develop, recharge, and thrive, and so do you. If your toddler was sleeping well and is suddenly having trouble with naps or waking up in the middle of the night, you’re likely dealing with a toddler sleep regression. 

Toddler sleep regressions can happen at any time between ages 12 months and 3 years, the whirlwind of emotional and physical changes that occur during these stages can influence sleep patterns in a myriad of ways. They can manifest with new bedtime delay tactics, refusal to settle down for a nap or at night, and sudden awakenings through the night. Helping your toddler sleep better starts with a better understanding of why their sleep patterns have suddenly changed. 

If you find yourself feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, or hopeless in your search for realistic solutions to your toddler’s ever-changing sleep schedule, we’re here to demystify the causes, solve sleep deprivation, and help your family develop a balanced framework that promotes better rest through toddlerhood and beyond. 

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What is a Toddler Sleep Regression?

Toddler sleep regressions are periods of time when many toddlers experience sleep disturbances caused by changes in physical and emotional development. Similar to the factors that can lead to 8-month sleep regression, toddlers undergo changes that can trigger a sleep regression like changes in sleep needs and routines, separation anxiety, and newly discovered freedom that will give them the urge to test your boundaries. 

Causes of Toddler Sleep Regression

At any stage of the toddler years, major developmental milestones like newfound speech and freedom, intellectual leaps, and new motor skills are common. Toddlers are excited to practice their new skills and engage with the world, and these stimulating changes often take precedence over their desire for a nap! 

Around these crucial developmental stages, other noticeable changes such as the emergence of imagination, new mobility/social skills, and transitioning into a bed can disrupt normal sleep patterns. 

As your toddler enters their second year, a new wave of changes emerge. Two and three-year-olds are energized, filled with ideas, and ready to test your boundaries. Even if you manage to maintain a consistent schedule and a peaceful sleeping environment, your child’s active imagination and emotional attachment are major factors in this sleep regression. 

On the bright side, many of these toddler changes are completely normal and healthy. With a cohesive plan of action and a sustainable sleep schedule that supports your toddler’s development, these changes will disappear in no time and you’ll get your sanity back. 

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toddler sleep regression
15 month sleep regression

Common Signs of the Toddler Sleep Regression

The signs of a toddler sleep regression include sudden and new bedtime delay tactics, difficulty falling asleep, frequent nighttime wakings, shorter naps, restless sleep, and challenges getting your toddler to settle down. Any of these signs can emerge at any stage of your toddler’s development.

Here’s a helpful breakdown of different signs of sleep regression: 

  • Difficulty Falling Asleep: Your toddler is eager to explore and test all the boundaries that you have established around bedtime, resulting in all the delay tactics they can possibly pull. Additionally, once you say good night and manage to leave the room, they take longer than usual to fall asleep. 
  • Frequent Nighttime Waking: You may notice that your little one is waking up suddenly during the night. Many toddlers develop separation anxiety and being able to use their imagination brings new night-time fears. 
  • Shorter or Fewer Naps: Around the age of 12-18 months, many toddlers around s transition from two naps to one. This transition is hard, and their little bodies need time to adjust. It’s normal for your little one to take short naps temporarily during this time of change.
  • Moodiness and Irritability: If your toddler (and you) haven’t been sleeping as well as normal, this will affect all aspects of your family’s well-being. As you are well aware, increased irritability and fussiness caused by sleep deprivation interferes with a toddler’s ability to settle down for a nap or bedtime easily.

For many toddlers, a mix of these factors affects their overall sleep quality. If your little one is experiencing any of these issues, our caring team is here to help you solve your sleep situation with practical, relatable, and evidence-based solutions to give your family back their much-needed rest.

How To Help Your Toddler Improve Their Sleep

Fortunately, most toddler sleep regression challenges can be traced to one or more of the sleep regression causes outlined above. For example, if your 18-month-old toddler has developed a new fear of being alone at night, this is a normal developmental change that can be addressed by supporting your child using stress management strategies. Our specialists can help you transform the fear of separation into a comfortable and secure bedtime routine where your toddler feels safe and confident as they drift off to sleep.

Other safe and effective strategies to help your toddler sleep better include: 

  • Establishing a consistent nap and bedtime schedule
  • Reduce distractions and avoid screen time in the evenings
  • Comfort and reassure your toddler to reduce separation fears and anxieties
  • Ease into any new nap and bedtime routine gradually
  • Include stress management activities into your child’s bedtime routine like stretching exercises, massages, and meditation 

Whatever sleep-related challenges your toddler is dealing with, our sleep-solving specialists make it easy to identify the source of your concerns and develop a step-by-step resolution plan. We’ll help you understand the causes, organize a plan that addresses your toddler’s underlying needs, and teach you how to implement a nurturing environment that helps you and your toddler find more consistent rest. 

Schedule a Free Intro Call with One of Our Sleep Consultants