18 Month Sleep Regression – Symptoms, causes & best Solutions

After your toddler has been sleeping soundly through the night for a while, the 18 month sleep regression can be a tough Testing period full of questions and concerns for parents. All of the sudden, your child starts waking up at night.

This can be frustrating and exhausting for both you and your child. If you have a toddler, chances are you’ve heard of the 18 month sleep regression. But what exactly is it? In this blog post, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about the 18 month sleep regression: from its causes to how you can help your little one get through it.

Is there an 18 month sleep regression?

The months between 14 and 18 can be troublesome for sleep because that’s when we see recurrent issues arise. According to parents of 1-½ year olds, a “18 month sleep regression” often includes increased night wakings, nap refusal, and bedtime refusal.

It’s important to keep in mind that not all toddlers will be affected by this period of development equally—it depends on their routines as well as the parent’s response.

What Are the Symptoms of 18 Month Sleep Regressions?

What is a sleep regression? Generally, it’s when the quality of your child’s sleep suddenly starts to decline. You might notice a change in their bedtime routine or they may wake up more during the night. Other signs of a regression include refusing to take naps, waking up earlier than usual, and general crankiness.

If you’re having trouble getting your toddlers to stay in bed, watch for these 18 month sleep regression signs:

Fighting bedtime.

  • They might start climbing out of bed and fussing as soon you leave.

Nap crying.

  • When children transition from taking two naps a day to one, it can often disrupt their sleeping patterns and make it hard for them – and you – to get the needed rest.

Waking at night.

  • waking up and crying is another regression sign.

Increased fussiness.

  • Irritability and tears at times when your Toddler is usually in a good mood could mean it’s not getting the sleep it needs

How long does the 18 month sleep regression last?

Sleep regressions are common among children aged 18 months, but it’s not guaranteed that every child will experience one. They generally last 2-6 weeks. Remember that parents’ responses to these new sleep problems can shape whether the phase is temporary or prolonged.

Sleep regressions for 18-month-olds typically last no more than a couple of weeks. As with their cause, sleep regressions may end without any clear justification. The specific duration varies depending on the toddler’s individual development and the underlying causes of their sleep regression.

What causes it?

Parents usually want to know the immediate cause of their child’s 18 month sleep regression. Even though it is difficult to identify one specific reason, there are typically several factors that play a role:

Teething

When children are around 18 months old, they commonly start cutting their 4 canine teeth as well as their first molars. Unfortunately, this process often leads to discomfort and can cause disruptions in sleep routine.

Hunger

As toddlers get bigger, they may start to feel hunger at eve again. You might need to consider whether meals during the day are big enough or if a bedtime snack is necessary. Keep in mind that at this age, your toddler will be more active!

Separation anxiety

Many babies have separation anxiety that starts at around 7 or 8 months old. separation anxiety can last until they are 18 months old and lead to interrupted sleep since your toddler may not want to take naps if you’re not there or wake up during the night upset because you’re not in the room with them.

Stronger Will

At 18 months, babies are rapidly gaining independence. They can stack blocks, feed themselves with a spoon, drink from a cup, and even take some clothes off. As they learn to do more for themselves, they may also start testing their limits – refusing to go to sleep or staying in bed when you want them to.

How do you handle the 18 month sleep regression?

Creating bad habits during this time can have consequences that last long after the sleep regression ends, so it’s crucial to try not to form any routines you wouldn’t want to continue.

If you used a sleep training method like the Ferber method or pick-up, put-down in the past, now might be a good time to start using it again. If your child already has a bed-time routine that they stick to regularly, maintain consistency by continuing to do it with them.

If your child hasn’t had bedtime routines before, now is an excellent time to start one. It doesn’t have to be extensive; even something as effortless as bathing, putting on pajamas or sleep sack, brushing teeth, reading a book, and singing a song will suffice. Having this predictable pattern will help them get ready for sleep.

Practice your routine

Consistency is key for a toddler’s bedtime routine. By following the same steps each eve, your child will know it’s time to wind down and go to sleep.

Limit or avoid screen time

If you allow your kids to watch TV or videos, make sure it’s earlier in the day. Screens should be off at least two hours before bedtime so they can get a good night’s sleep.

Add a Toy

A child who becomes scared in the dark may find comfort from holding a stuffed animal or doll.

Don’t overreact

If your child gets up too early in the morning or has trouble sleeping at night, don’t panic. Every time he gets out of bed, calmly walk him back to his room without saying much. Do this until it’s time for him to wake up.

Use sleep training

You may want to consider it your toddler if you have already done it with success for your baby.

Let the nap go

If your child is getting good sleep at night, then you shouldn’t worry too much if they drop their nap between 12 and 18 months.

When to call the doctor

If you’re still struggling to get your little one to fall asleep through the night or stay asleep during naptime, talking to their pediatrician may give you some relief. They might have different ideas about sleep training or bed-time routines that could help ease the process.

It’s important to call a doctor if you notice your toddler having trouble sleeping, which may manifest as loud breathing, snoring, nightmares, or daytime sleepiness.

  • Snoring or abnormal breathing that is significant enough to disrupt sleep.
  • Stunted growth
  • Limited weight gain
  • Tiredness or other problems with focus during the day
  • Longer naps during the day
  • Any drastic changes in appetite, bowel movements, or urination.

Do All Children Have an 18 Month Sleep Regression?

Not every toddler has a sleep regression at 18 months. In fact, sleep patterns differ for each child, so some toddlers may have trouble to sleep before or after the 18-month mark. Also, it’s possible for some 18-month-olds to take big strides in their sleeping habits.

Because of this, it’s best not to see sleep regressions as something that happens to all children at a preset time but instead as phases that can happen during any stage of development.

Healthy Sleep Habits

It is important for parents to help their children develop healthy sleep habits from an early age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Make sufficient sleep a family priority.

It’s essential to understand how sleep impacts our overall health, both for ourselves and our children. Keep in mind that as a parent, you’re always serving as a role model to your kids. So if you stay up all night working on a project or editing your teen’s school paper, you’re not exactly setting the best example. Make an effort to prioritize sleep for yourself so that your kids can see that it’s part of leading a healthy lifestyle—just like eating well and exercising regularly.

Keep to a regular daily routine and have consistent sleep patterns.

A strict daily routine will help your child feel at ease and promote a tranquil bedtime. If you have young children, start early with a bed-time routine such as brush teeth, read books, then sleep. It’s important that the routines you use can be done anywhere so that your little one can fall asleep no matter where you are. Improve the sleep with a consistent Sleep Cycles.

Be active during the day.

Keep your children entertained with a diverse set of activities throughout the day, including exercise and time outside.

Monitor screen time.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that all screens – TVs, laptops, computers, tablets and phones – be kept out of children’s bedrooms to prevent sleep disruption. They suggest setting a Family Media Use Plan with boundaries about screen time before bedtime, and turning off all screens at least 60 minutes prior to going to sleep.

Create a sleep-supportive and safe bedroom and home environment.

Reduce the lights before your child’s bedtime, and regulate the temperature in their room. Only allow a few toys in your child’s bedroom so that they associate it with sleep, not play. A favorite toy or security blanket can help ease any separation anxiety—see Suitable Sleeping Sites for more information specifically for babies under 12 months of age.

Don’t put your toddler to bed with a bottle of juice, milk, or formula.

Always give water to your toddler after feedings or whenever he or she is thirsty. Other drinks can cause Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD). To avoid this, always put your toddler down for a nap or bedtime with only water in his or her bottle.

Don’t start giving solids before about 6 months of age.

Introducing your toddler to solid foods won’t help them sleep through the night. If you give solids before their system can digest them, it might make sleeping difficult because of an upset stomach.

Rebecca Foley
Rebecca Foley

Rebecca is not only a certified sleep science coach, but she also has first-hand experience with insomnia and knows how frustrating it can be to get a good night’s rest. She spends her time researching and testing out different products – like mattresses, natural sleep aids, and bedding – to see what works best. Her goal is to help as many people as possible get the quality of sleep they deserve by sharing everything she learns through her informative health content.