If you’re a parent of a toddler, by now you are likely a sleep regression expert. First came the 4 month sleep regression. Then the 8-10 month. And as if those weren’t enough, your 18 month old will most likely be experiencing yet another sleep regression.
Unfortunately, this one tends to be one of the most difficult sleep regressions to deal with for one main reason. Discipline. Unlike the 4 month and 8-10 month sleep regression, at 18 months, disciplining and limit setting may need to happen. Why? Well, earlier regressions don’t have anything to do with defiant behavior. Now, it does.
Your child is gaining independence and exploring a wonderful new world. Things like eating with a spoon all by themselves, or repeatedly taking off their shirt and trying to put it back on is very exciting! They would much rather explore than sleep. Resistance to naps is very common at this age. They are pushing their boundaries and testing limits and once again, you are likely wondering what you can do.
Here’s how to handle it:
- Be patient. As hard as it is – the best thing you can do is wait the sleep regression out.
- Stick to your routine as best as possible. As much as you can, keep their bedtime and naps in their bed (a consistent place to sleep is key), implement an early bedtime, keep up a regular routine – and stay with it.
- Don’t do anything drastic. Even if your toddler seems extremely resistant to naps, dropping them altogether is not recommended. This will likely cause your child to become even more tired and cranky and even more resistant to all sleep.
- Consider sleep training. If you’ve been struggling with sleep issues for a while, chances are it’s because you may need to implement a little bit of sleep training and it’s probably not due to a regression.
Remember, it might feel like nothing is working or you’re doing everything wrong – but you’re not! All types of regressions can occur with even the best sleepers. If you stay consistent and keep practicing the healthy sleep habits with your routine, sleep will return.
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Infant and Toddler Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site.