How to deal with Your Toddler’s 18-Month Sleep Regression

 

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Video taken from the channel: NorthBay Healthcare


 

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18 Month Sleep Regression: Tips

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If your 18-month-old suddenly has trouble falling asleep, starts resisting naps or sleep, or has frequent nighttime awakenings, they may be experiencing a sleep regression. The best way to deal with any type of sleep disturbance is to maintain a consistent bedtime routine and to minimize any major changes. The best thing you can do for your toddler while she goes through the 18 month sleep regression, is to stay consistent with your daytime routine (keep offering naps) and bedtime routine. How to deal with the 18-month sleep regression The key to resolving these issues is consistency and efficiency.

Boucher recommends keeping bedtime and naptime routines short and sweet, and maintaining a set of boundaries (i.e. only one book after bath, not two or three). A: Some people prefer the Cry It Out method for dealing with 18 month sleep regression, while others might prefer other methods. However, depending on what exactly is causing your baby’s 18 month sleep regression, the Cry It Out method might be effective, or it might not.

Sleep needs for 18-month-olds At 18 months of age, your child should be getting around 11 to 14 hours of sleep every 24 hours. That might take the form of 1 1/2 to 2 hours of napping in the. During the 18 month sleep regression, there are a few things to know to get through this phase: Generally this sleep regression stage lasts about 3-4 weeks (6 at the most).

Try, try, try not to make long-term habits for a short-term phase or your regression might “last months.”. Good sleep hygiene also means have a great environment for sleep. Your child’s room should be: A cool temperature; Dark or with only a dim nightlight; Quiet or only a low-volume white noise machine; Completely screen-free “Good sleep hygiene helps sleep regression and other sleep disturbances,” says Dr. Basora-Rovira. “It helps for life.

There’s no “cure” for sleep regressions, unfortunately. But there are ways you can work to minimize your toddler’s sleeplessness (and your own!): Set clear boundaries and limits with your toddler, especially at nap time and bedtime. This will help nip any sleep-related tantrums in the bud. Ask for help: Share nighttime (and daytime) baby duty with your partner so you can both get at least some sleep.

Talk to other parents about your child’s sleep challenges and make a plan of action. Ask your child’s doctor for advice on how to improve your child’s sleep. For some, the 18-month sleep regression marks a permanent change in the child’s sleep habits.

The toddler might drop a nap, stay up later, or sleep later in the morning.

List of related literature:

Physical exertion should be avoided at least 3 hours prior to bedtime to allow enough time for the child to settle down and get into bed at a reasonable level of activation.13 Attention must also be given to potentially stimulating medications, drinks, and food that a child might take prior to bedtime.

“Principles and Practice of Pediatric Sleep Medicine E-Book” by Stephen H. Sheldon, Richard Ferber, Meir H. Kryger, David Gozal
from Principles and Practice of Pediatric Sleep Medicine E-Book
by Stephen H. Sheldon, Richard Ferber, et. al.
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2014

Routines can include a bath, massage, and other calming activities (see Figure 27-1A).151 Parents may move bedtime closer to the child’s naturally established time to fall asleep and then gradually move bedtime earlier and earlier until the child is able to fall asleep at the desired bedtime.

“Occupational Therapy for Children and Adolescents E-Book” by Jane Case-Smith, Jane Clifford O'Brien
from Occupational Therapy for Children and Adolescents E-Book
by Jane Case-Smith, Jane Clifford O’Brien
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2014

Within each age-specific chapter, I include an easy-to-read milestone chart along with detailed advice on how to handle accompanying sleep regression.

“The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Without Leaving Them to Cry it Out” by Kim West, Joanne Kenen
from The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Without Leaving Them to Cry it Out
by Kim West, Joanne Kenen
Hachette Books, 2020

Make the bedtime routine at least 20 minutes long – more if you find it is hard to engage with her – in the bedroom where your child will sleep.

“All About The Baby Sleep Solution: Your Questions Answered” by Lucy Wolfe
from All About The Baby Sleep Solution: Your Questions Answered
by Lucy Wolfe
Gill Books, 2020

The new bedtime can be chosen by calculating the child’s average sleep onset (clock time) based on parents’ report of the most recent three or four nights (or by obtaining a pre-treatment sleep diary).

“Behavioral Treatments for Sleep Disorders: A Comprehensive Primer of Behavioral Sleep Medicine Interventions” by Michael L. Perlis, Mark Aloia, Brett Kuhn
from Behavioral Treatments for Sleep Disorders: A Comprehensive Primer of Behavioral Sleep Medicine Interventions
by Michael L. Perlis, Mark Aloia, Brett Kuhn
Elsevier Science, 2010

After 1–2 weeks of implementing this new sleep schedule, the child will fall asleep quicker and wake less during the night, and their bedtime can gradually be “faded” earlier by 15–30 min at a time, until finding the ideal bedtime for the child

“Handbook of Australian School Psychology: Integrating International Research, Practice, and Policy” by Monica Thielking, Mark D. Terjesen
from Handbook of Australian School Psychology: Integrating International Research, Practice, and Policy
by Monica Thielking, Mark D. Terjesen
Springer International Publishing, 2017

The provider should assess the child for common pediatric sleep problems such as sleep refusal, nightmares, or trained night feeding.

“Advanced Pediatric Assessment, Third Edition” by Ellen M. Chiocca, PhD, CPNP, RNC-NIC
from Advanced Pediatric Assessment, Third Edition
by Ellen M. Chiocca, PhD, CPNP, RNC-NIC
Springer Publishing Company, 2019

Understand that the ease with which your child was going to sleep initially was possibly part of the problem.

“The Baby Sleep Solution: The stay and support method to help your baby sleep through the night” by Lucy Wolfe
from The Baby Sleep Solution: The stay and support method to help your baby sleep through the night
by Lucy Wolfe
Gill Books, 2017

To parent for change, you must diagnose your child’s sleep requirements, keep a record of your findings, then create solutions based on her needs.

“The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries” by Michele Borba
from The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries
by Michele Borba
Wiley, 2009

In this approach, the parents schedule some quiet activities close to bedtime to calm the child down for approximately 20 minutes and then place the child to sleep.

“Wong's Essentials of Pediatric Nursing E-Book” by David Wilson, Marilyn J. Hockenberry
from Wong’s Essentials of Pediatric Nursing E-Book
by David Wilson, Marilyn J. Hockenberry
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2013

Oktay Kutluk

Kutluk Oktay, MD, FACOG is one of the world's foremost experts in fertility preservation as well as ovarian stimulation and in vitro fertilization for infertility treatments. He developed and performed the world's first ovarian transplantation procedures as well as pioneered new ovarian stimulation protocols for embryo and oocyte freezing for breast and endometrial cancer patients.

Mail: [email protected]
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48 comments

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  • my daughter will go to bed at 8. wake up a couple hours later. say like 11ish. i’ll take her back to bed and she will NOT go back to bed. it is now 3am. just like every other damn day, and she’s wide awake.

  • Hi! Thanks so much for all these tips. My son is 18 month now. He slept fine since 13 month and went to bed by himself. But he suddenly started to fight bedtime since yesterday….screaming soooo hard. Is this also part of the sleep regression? Do you have any recommendations? Really appreciate it!

  • My son has a sliding door I cannot lock! What do I do lol he comes to the door I don’t go in I just flaming lay him back down but this is so exhausting! I am looking for a new place with a actual door for his room lol!

  • hahahaha these is too funny! they have the mind that little mischiveous kid and the fewer times you go into the room it is usually to get your attention, so why does she always likes to be jumping on the bed. we’ve told her several times to stop jumping on the bed and she does it eitherway

  • Hello. Very helpful video. Thank you
    My baby girl is 15 months old and she was always a great sleeper 12h on her own -just bottle and lullabies and leave the room
    Since she had some cold and some teething she wakes up on the night and now she end up having feed at 3am. She wakes up and cry if I give her the bottle she still cannot falling asleep again. She goes back aroung 5-6am and then she wakes up around 7-8. By 10 -11 she will have a nap for 90 min and then she needs to have another one around 4pm. At 9pm she needs to have her night sleep. How do I go into a normal routine as 1 nap only in the day it will still make her awake at 3am for feed and then still not go back until 5-6am. She doesn’t want to play in the night. She just cannot comfort enought

    Many thanks

  • Thank you! My son is 18 months, and we are sleepless once again. He won’t sleep without being rocked, and wakes up 3-4 times a night. It’s rough, but this too shall pass.

  • This becomes a challenge when one parent wants to comfort and the other wants to have sanity and break the habit so everyone is eventually happy. I’m usually the one that does everything in routine however the sound of baby crying, day needing to work is stressful. so with me doing everything that I’m supposed to and still dealing with this I’m not sure how much longer it’ll take.

  • Hi Lara, I would recommend a gro clock. It really helped with us. It did take a good few days of putting back into his bed constantly but finally our oldest got the hang of it and now stays in his bed till the gro clock stays yellow. X

  • Hello I am between moves and I’m changing houses every couple of weeks between family and friends till I have my own place this is creating a lot of anxiety for my 14 months baby I know but this will continue for another 2 months and she started waking thru the night screaming for twenty minutes to pick her up, I’m totally wrecked cuz if I pick her up she starts the day all excited and happy 1 am 2 am whenever so I try not to so she can sleep again but I can’t take it any longer, any advice till we settle? ��

  • Our 20 month old has been fighting bedtime for the past week. If we let her cry, she will climb out of crib. We will try this out as I am 8 months pregnant too so getting less sleep already.

  • I have always co-slept but I realize that my a2 year old looks tired all of the time, goes to sleep late and I don’t want to do cry out method to put her in her room. She is also really clingy to me.

  • Hi, Just looking for some advice. My 20 month daughter has only ever napped once a day, but has been consistent with this for a long time. She normally puts herself to sleep and will sleep for a good hour. She is the same at bedtime and normally sleeps 12 ish hours. All of a sudden, she will NOT sleep! Nap time has gone and it takes us approximately 4 hours to get her down. We’re calm and keep the same routine, but as soon as we leave the room she screams, and its a new horrendously loud scream as well. We’ve tried staying in the room with her till she’s asleep, but as soon as we move to leave, she wakes up. We’ve tried letting her settle herself but she won’t. Honestly feel at my wits end. 4.5 weeks in and no signs of getting any better. Do you have any magical advice?

  • I had an angel until 17 months. He slept all night. He goes to sleep at about 8 with some resistence but then he wakes up at 2 screaming his head off and he want stop until I let him play in the living room. This goes on until 5 in the morning. Almost every night he does this. I’m daying. He sleeps in a crib next to ouer bad and my husband just goes mental if he screams more then a minute. There is no way I can let him scream.

  • Can I just ask… how long do you let them cry in the room for? Are usually try and wait it out lately, but tonight she cried for two hours straight. Last night, she managed to crawl out of her crib and onto my bed as it is right in front of the foot of my bed. She wasn’t in an upset mood she was just up all night talking and going in and out of her crib to my bed. I’m not sure if I should switch to a toddler bed as I’m worried she will just fall out of it rolling around so much.

  • Jeezzz…just not into let them cry it out method…I can’t handle the crying and screaming…any other suggestions? Less stressful for both the toddler n I?

  • Oh I feel your pain! Sleep deprivation is the worst. I think you try everything and in the end I used bribery..Jude still wakes at 5am and it’s awful I felt like it was just us going through it so thanks for doing this video. I’ve accepted I look rough now, especially as my sister said last week my eye bags were terrible! Charming haha! Hope it gets better for you soon..think I will wait to have another �� x x

  • Hi, my daughter is 16 Months old now. In night I put her down for sleep with some music playing in background. She rolls,kick her legs and takes around 1520 mints to put herself to sleep. I am simply sitting near to her while she is trying to sleep. She still wakes up in night 2-3 time and with little pating she goes to sleep again. Please let me know what next steps I should take to stop this night waking.

  • My daughter gets to the point where she’ll scream, cry & kick. She’ll even jump up & down & I’m afraid my daughter will lean over the edge of her crib & fall… she’s gotten quite close.

  • How do you handle it when you let your toddler you know you’re not coming back and you close the door. and he throws a screaming crying tantrum for 3 1/2 hours in the middle of the night? help!

  • What if the toddler is no longer in a crib and knows how to open doors and comes in your room repeatedly? I know some might think we transitioned to a toddler bed too quick but we didn’t have a choice. My toddler learned to climb out of it and has fallen so the crib had to go, plus I’m due with baby #2 in December. What can I do? I’m losing my mind here.

  • I didnt try n push the separation, those boundaries r hard even for adults. I would just sit in bed and ignore toddler. It’s only been less than 5 years from a womb n they suppose to behave like a manual. Would you like ur hubby to say goodnight n leave u to fall asleep alone. But I get it, I have seen to many parents who would do anything to get away from their kids n push independance faster now days. I’m sorry babies that u have to cry for 2 hrs by yourself. May God comfort u children.

  • Hi Jilly, I believe my 18mo is currently going through sleep regression but there could also be other factors like him transiting from infant care to daycare in school. We have always stuck to the same bedtime routine and he has always been able to fall asleep on his own since about 10mo. He has not started sleeping through the night and used to take one feed at night. We have tried many different methods to get him to sleep through but they have never worked. So, we have sort of come to terms with that. However, recently he is waking up every 1 to 2 hours after going to bed and requesting for milk. I can only speculate that he wants to drink milk to help himself go back to sleep. I have to comfort him and pat him back to sleep but he would wake up soon after again and start wailing. He would only really fall asleep and not wake again at about 3am, but would then have to wake up at 7am to go to daycare. How can we help him and us to be less sleep-deprived? Thank you.

  • Yes yes yes. I have NEEDED this video! Have a 2 1/2 year old. We used Sleep Sense when he was younger & had good habits. Now that we went to toddler bed, bad habits have returned (our habits) because he would get out & come to our room. I would absolutely love a podcast on the topic of toddler sleep & how strategies are similar/different from infants.

  • Oh Lara. I’m definitely a Mum that has been relegated to the ‘dog zone’ at the bottom of the bed. I have no advice just sympathy…scary witch in the Christmas panto set it off with our daughter! ���� If you ever figure it out send some tips my way please!

  • Hi jilly. I have a 22 months old. We have a consistent bedtime routine and she’s able to fall asleep herself albeit with some fussing sometimes. However she’s been waking up a few times overnight (as per usual) and unfortunately this 1 week or so, she’s been demanding for her mom to be with her. She has no problems crying way beyond an hour. We are trying to establish boundaries but sometimes it feels like it’s utterly useless. Any advice?

  • Hi thanks for the video. My 20 months old daughter is not sleep more than 2 hours continue once she wakes up it’s really hard to sleep her.She sleeps with her mum on the same bad. We discussed with doctor they are saying baby is fine there is no problem. Pls advise something

  • Oh Lara, sleeping on his floor, that’s commitment for you. We have another friend who also does that! Have you tried a method called ‘gradual retreat’? Our other friends found it very helpful, sounds like a similar situation!
    We are also co sleeping at the moment and have been for agesmy only rule is he has to go to sleep in his own bed initially! Sleep and children are a mind field! I hope you find something that worksgood luck!! Xx

  • Help, please. My son will turn 19 months old this coming Janaury first. He’s transitioning from 2 naps to 1. We have just one bedroom, his crib is our room but he still sleeps in bed with us. My wife is still nursing Lorenzo and use it as a pacifier, but it is not event working anymore. So lately is very very difficult for him to fall asleep even when is very tired. Hope you can help us. Thanks. Danilo

  • Omg Lara we are going through the same thing, no advice sorry, just a hug and to let you know I completely sympathise and I really hope they sleep soon x

  • I would try keep them in separate rooms as long as you can. My newly turned 3 yr old twin boys share a room (we only have 2 bedrooms) and its a nitemare. Trying to get them to sleep is impossible. Because there is 2 of them as soon as they go in the room they think it’s party time �� We have to put Twin 1 down and let the other one stay up but when he realised his brother is getting to stay up then be keeps coming through. Really wish we had 3 bedrooms x

  • My son 13 months for 9 days now he goes to bed at 7pm wake up at 5 am he is not going to take nap until 12 pm(45 min or 1 h if I’m lucky) I’m so worry if he getting sick but he play normal he just look so tired…What should I do to help him through this time please help

  • I feel your pain! It’s just my boy and me, I have a double bed and any time he comes in my bed I resent his little starfish ways. Some things I would suggest is his settling routine, you know the ‘tea, bath, story, bed’, night lights or fairy lights, door shut so shadows aren’t created, we always have the same sentence when I’m about to leave, if this gets forgotten I know about it with tears! ‘Night night, don’t let the bedbugs bite, see you in the morning, love you’ love you mummy, ‘love you’. I have to say the last love you or game over �� on the nights where he was getting into my bed I ended up being so strict on him, in the mornings explaining that it isn’t okay, he has his bed and his room and we can have cuddles in the morning. Occasionally he comes in but not so much. Maybe try putting some of your clothing in with him so he can smell mummy. My son had a mid sleeper from 2, so I think the change into bunk beds would be a great idea. Don’t think that you are alone! And definitely don’t be sacrificing your own sleep because you don’t want to disturb your son or hurt his feelings, it’s a basic need for good sleep and you both deserve to have yours back xx

  • i know its not solving the problem at all but why not buy a little air bed just so you can litrally get some sleep to stay sane! lol rather then sleep on his floor in his room? lol or he could go on the air bed in your bedroom? so you have have your bed back. lol xx

  • We have been there too and it felt like it would never come to an end but it did eventually. What worked for us was telling our daughter we would check on her every 5 mins when we put her to bed but if she shouted out we would come in ten.We would set a timer and go into her room. if she was still awake (majority of the time she was) we would not start a conversation just smooth her hair and kiss her goodnight again. Slowly (and it took at least a month) she started to feel comfortable enough to go to sleep without us there. Then if she did wake up she didn’t make a fuss or shout out because she thought we would be in to her in 5 minutes. Best of luck. I was at my wits ends with it too xx

  • Oh yes we know all about the sleep deprivation too. I’m the same as you I can’t co sleep as he moves far too much! We thought we cracked it as he was doing ace last year and then since before Christmas its went to pot again! No matter what we do for rewards etc he just doesn’t want to be alone. Then I end up up with both kids and daddy away! ��oh it’s so fun isn’t it! Yeah my daughter just came out the 2 year sleep regression…. that was hard with my son doing this same time! Huge hugs Hun you aren’t alone xxx

  • Hi Dana, great video! My 20 month old has started waking up in the middle of the night and screams his head off. We tried minimizing attention as you suggest, the problem is he has started climbing out of the crib so there’s a real safety issue to address now… have you any other suggestions? Thank you!!

  • Ah lovely I have no advice as I have two amazing sleepers in the girls who sleep all night long and stay in bed and one boy whose just terrible ������ he’s going to be one of those ones who will be causing havoc all night long I think. It’s so hard, the lack of sleep is so difficult, I’m so knackered. I hope it gets resolved soon ❤️

  • Can this happen early? As my 16 nearly 17 month old now is all of a sudden taking and hour or two! To fall asleep at nap times messing up schedules making her hard at night too.. or I thought maybe not tired enough for Nap time and pushing it back an hour I tried it once though and same outcome didn’t sleep just rolled around for over an hour:( she use to be so good st sleeping and naps it’s all of a sudden the last two weeks:( I’m so stuck

  • Oh my goodness we’ve had EXACTLY the same thing with Sophia (who’s nearly 4). She used to sleep fine on her own throughout the night but after we as Sienna my hubby started sleeping in with sophia so she wouldn’t feel left out but ever since she will not stay in her bed all night. She either comes into us or cries until we go in to her. Finally this week things have started to improve as we told her that if she stayed in her bed for the whole night then she could choose a barbie by the end of the week the joys of bribery!!! I’m hoping it’ll last after she gets the barbie but I’m not too hopeful!!! At least we know she can stay on her own all night and we’ve been telling her how proud of her we are when she does sleep through x

  • I sometimes do the bottom of the bed manoeuvre too! Never had this problem with my first 2 but the 3rd has been difficult. At the end of last summer we took the side of the cot off then moved to a bed within 3 weeks followed by aunty looking after toddler and siblings for 3 days not long after, so had a lot of disruption. Then travelling at the end of last year has also thrown a consistent routine out the window. If I persist for 3 nights and do the walking him back to bed enough, I know our problem will be solved but sleep deprivation had a lot to answer for, I’m my own worst enemy! X

  • Hi
    My 18 months daughter does not go to sleep sometimes at night and it’s a habit that she will go to sleep while breastfeeding. And she doesn’t drink market milk
    How to avoid breastfeeding and what should be our bedtime routine and also she always wake up at 4 o clock and sometime irregular times and my wife has to breast feed her to sleep

  • My middle daughter turned four this month and she very very rarely sleeps the entire night. Like once a month. She shares a room with her two sisters who both sleep through. She wakes every 1-2 hours. I think I live in a zombie state every single day. You are not alone and I just hope it’s a phase we will all work through eventually.

  • Our problem is my 22 month old gets so upset they vomit, 4 nights in the last 2 weeks from crying (is he that upset? is he manipulating us?) I have no idea but I’m so lost as to what to do. Anyone have experience with a vomiter?

  • what if after checking and consoling for over 2 hours my toddler is still screaming her guts out in her crib every time i leave the room? is it then time to call an exorcist?

  • Oh Lara, you’re so right…you’re not alone in this struggle! I appreciate your honesty. My boys are 4 & 6 and went through the exact same phase when they were the ages of your boys. Consistent repetition of bringing them back to bed worked for us, eventually. It took a long time though. �� We tried sticker charts which worked for one son. I even resorted to bribing with promises of candy the next day if they stayed in bed. Lol, not that it worked! One thing that did work well with both of them was getting the My Sleep Clock (available on amazon in the US, not sure if U.K. has the exact same thing. Sounds like you have similar clock options though). We could never make co-sleeping work either and I think sleep is far too important (for parents and kiddos alike) to suffer through nights like you had last night. Best of luck! This too shall pass…and don’t feel bad for being frustrated you obviously love your boys but you need quality sleep to be the mom they need! ��

  • Sleep cry used to work for us but now hes turned 2 it doesnt! He was crying for 2hrs non stop the other night! Had to give up in the end. ��

  • Feel so sorry for you all, really hope you find a solution to it soon! Thanks for now getting ‘everything’s rosie’ stuck in my head �� bloody hate that programme! �� xxx