Now let’s talk about the 18 month old sleep regression. This one can be a doozy! I mean, isn’t every problem more challenging when the baby has reached toddlerhood? 🙂
What causes this regression?
There are a few factors that typically cause this regression. Firstly, he’s learning how to exert power and control over his environment—and sometimes this defiance can carry over to bedtime. He’s discovered the word “NO!” and he’s not afraid to constantly use it throughout the day, and at bedtime!
Second, many toddlers experience some anxiety at this age. Your toddler is learning how to regulate emotions and identify which situations warrant being scared and which situations don’t. Maybe something scared your child, such as a dark barking, a bee sting, or a thunderstorm. If you can identify the source of your toddler’s anxiety, you’re going to want to give him extra support and comfort.
Lastly, part of this regression might also be caused by those awful molars that many toddlers get in around now. They’re painful!
But fear not moms and dads, this isn’t going to last forever. The 18 month old sleep regression is a phase, and all phases come to an end if you ride them out correctly. Here are my survival tips for you:
- Have a nice relaxing bedtime routine with a consistent ending, like the same bedtime song or bedtime phrase that will cue your toddler it’s time for sleep. Don’t bother negotiating!
- If you haven’t already, introduce a lovey or comfort item. You want him to be able to get comfort from something other than you!
- Offer an extra nap if your toddler refuses his regular nap. Otherwise, your toddler will be a monster by dinner time. At 18 months, toddlers still NEED their nap!
- Don’t end up back at square one. If your toddler was perfectly sleep trained and falling asleep independently before this regression, don’t go back to co-sleeping or rocking him to sleep to solve your current problem. Remember: this is a phase! It’s one thing to come into your toddler’s room and offer him some extra cuddles. But reverting to rocking, feeding, and co-sleeping to sleep can become your new reality VERY quickly. New habits can form in a matter of DAYS. You don’t want to re-sleep train your toddler for a second time!
- Sleep train! If your toddler isn’t sleep trained, there’s no better time like the present to start! Remember, half the reason your toddler is waking throughout the night and refusing to sleep at bedtime is because she never learned how to fall sleep independently to begin with. Sleep training toddlers isn’t easy. But with the right sleep plan in place, it’s very doable!