18 month sleep regression

18 month sleep regression

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.


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18 Month 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 is part of this challenging time.

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.

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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.


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  • Honestly speaking, I had no idea about these sleep cycles, I am glad that I found this article as now I can easily understand my newborn’s sleep activity.

    SlumberSlumber on

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