18 Month Old Toddler Sleep Regression: 10 Survival Techniques

 
18 Month Sleep Regression
 
Oh, parents – I’m so sorry to have to break this news. After three (yes, THREE) sleep regressions, you’re not done yet. :( And the 18 month sleep regression? Yeah…it’s one of the worst!

BUT that doesn’t mean that you’re powerless in the face of the 18 month sleep regression – not at all! We’re always here for you, readers – even in the face of one of the toughest sleep regressions you’ll face.

18 Month Old Toddler Sleep Regression: What It Looks Like

Basically, you’ll know you’re facing the 18 month sleep regression when your toddler, who was sleeping just fine, thankyouvermuch, is suddenly NOT sleeping so fine. You will probably see shorter and more erratic naps, more bedtime drama, increased night waking, and/or really early-morning wake-ups.

Since lists are nice, when you’re trying to troubleshoot, you can also be on the lookout for these signs:

  • Increased fussiness and crying (aka major crankiness!)
  • Changes in appetite
  • Extra clinginess and a need for more cuddle time

18 Month Old Toddler Sleep Regression: Why It Happens

If you remember, the 8/9/10 month sleep regression was the result of a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances – at that age, your baby’s mobility and physical skills were just exploding, which led to disrupted sleep. Well, 18 months presents another ‘perfect storm’ – only this time, it’s a perfect storm of discipline issues! At 18 months, your toddler is no doubt learning that she can say ‘no’ to mommy and daddy (and say it LOUDLY at that) – and that defiance most definitely carries over to bedtime. While this growing independence isn’t all bad, by any means (this independent streak is also what will prompt her to learn how to put on her own shoes, and feed herself with a spoon), but it can lead to way more battles of will over things like bedtime and nap time.

And here’s what’s SUPER tricky about this: these two elements (your toddler’s newfound sleeplessness and your toddler’s newfound stubbornness and defiance) can end up influencing each other. Your toddler’s willful behavior can lead him to refuse naps or to shriek stubbornly for you each time he wakes at night. And of course, the lack of sleep caused by this regression can make your little one cranky, which leads to more tantrums and temper fits. It can turn into a vicious cycle of over tiredness and tantrums.

No wonder so many of our clients with 18 month olds report feeling like they’re nearing their breaking point!

Or course, the 18 month regression isn’t just about behavior issues – there are other factors in play here, too:

  • Teething could be to blame. Around 18 months, children are cutting the 4 canine teeth as well as well as their first molars. This can cause discomfort that leads to disrupted sleep.
  • Separation anxiety is still an issue for toddlers at 18 months. Most babies begin experiencing separation anxiety around 7 or 8 months, and for most babies, the anxiety is strongest from 10-18 months. This can lead to disrupted sleep as well — your baby may resist naps because he doesn’t want to be away from you, or he may wake at night and become upset that you’re not in the room with him.

18 Month Old Toddler Sleep Regression: 10 Survival Techniques

We first shared our 7 tips for 18 month sleep regression survival over on hintmama.com – check out the full list there!

For a quick, at-a-glance list of 10 tricks you can use to survive the 18 month regression – keep reading!

  1. Try a sticker chart to increase bedtime and nap time cooperation. Stickers hold great weight with most toddlers, so try using them as an incentive to help your toddler cooperate at bedtime and at nap time.
  2. Strengthen your bedtime routine, and give it a definitive end. Good bedtime routines are fairly short and VERY consistent. They also have a definite end – you might end with the same short song, or the same good night phrase. This is a strong signal to your toddler that it’s time for sleep.
  3. Try a lovey. If you haven’t given your toddler a comfort object, or a lovey, yet, this is a great time to start. If your 18 month old has something to keep in bed that feels cozy and comforting, it can minimize how often he calls for you at night or at nap time.
  4. Be prepared to offer extra naps (if she skips her usual ones) or an earlier bedtime. Part of the 18 month sleep regression involves fighting sleep (because what self-respecting toddler wants to sleep when she can play? ;)), so be ready to help your toddler compensate for missed sleep, in an effort to avoid over tiredness. (Just be sure that all naps are over by 6 p.m.).
  5. Offer a bedtime snack. Sometimes, a legitimate growth spurt can overlap with the 18 month sleep regression, so offering a high-protein bedtime snack can help to ward off middle-of-the-night hunger. Just make sure to brush teeth after snack time, and before bed!
  6. Offer a nightlight. By 18 months, your toddler may start having nighttime fears, so a very soft nightlight can provide a little reassurance.
  7. Offer simple explanations. Your toddler obviously isn’t at the age yet where you can hold real conversations, but it can be helpful to give your toddler reasons for WHY he needs to go to bed and get enough sleep. Keep your explanations simple, of course, and avoid over-explaining yourself (remember, your toddler is the king/queen of “but why?”) – but some simple explanations can help defuse sleep time drama.
  8. Don’t undo all your hard work. That is to say, if you’ve worked on sleep training, don’t go back to old sleep associations! Instead, comfort your toddler by doing mini-versions of whatever they find comforting. For instance, maybe hold your toddler when he wakes fussing, but hold him for a few minutes, instead of holding him all the way to sleep. Or lie down with him in his room, but be sure to leave before he falls asleep. This will provide comforting without creating new, bad sleep habits.
  9. Create firm ‘will’ and ‘will not’ boundaries, and then reinforce them for your toddler. For example, if your toddler isn’t allowed to sleep in your bed, then be sure to reinforce that even in the midst of the 18 month sleep regression. If you’ve decided for yourself that when your toddler cries for you at night, you’re going to wait 5 minutes before going into her room, then stay consistent with that.
  10. Be prepared to re-train, if necessary. Even small things, like a short cold, can throw off your child’s normally-great sleeping patterns. So it’s no wonder that a big sleep regression can do big damage! Don’t worry, though – you can get back on track. Give the regression a few weeks to sort itself out; at that point, if your toddler is still struggling with sleep, do some sleep training to get things back on track (trust me, it will most likely be a lot easier this time than it was the first time around!).

18 Month Sleep Regression Help That’s Guaranteed To Work

Toddler sleep problems are definitely solvable – but they can be TOUGH to solve on your own. So why not connect with one of our caring, compassionate sleep consultants, and get expert answers to your nap questions today?
 
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
 

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.
 

 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
 
 

bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOr, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!

How have you dealt with the 18 month old toddler sleep regression? Any tried-and-true survival techniques that we didn’t mention here? Share with us – we love hearing from you!

Sleep Regression, or Something Else?

 
Sleep Regression or Something Else

Is it a sleep regression…or is it something else? That’s a question that many parents would like the answer to. After all, until you uncover the root of your baby or toddler sleep problems, you can’t know how to respond to them, and how best to solve them.

Today, we bring you a brand-new quiz, designed to help you uncover whether your baby or toddler’s recent sleep problems are the result of a sleep regression, or something else entirely. Take the easy, 7-question quiz, and you’ll get additional insights into whether or not the sleep problems you’re facing are due to a sleep regression or not.

After you see the results of your quiz, please come back to this page and scroll all the way down for resources. If your problem is a sleep regression, we have many sleep regression articles available. If it’s something else, there are links below designed to help you get at the root of your baby or toddler’s sleep challenges.

Sleep Regression, or Something Else? A Baby Sleep Site® Quiz


Sleep Regression, or Something Else?


Please answer each question below by indicating whether the statement is more true or less true, using the radio buttons. When you have completed each question, click the ‘Get Score’ button (note that you DO NOT have to enter your name or e-mail address). Next, enter the captcha code that is shown, and then your results will show on a new page.

My child falls into one of the following age ranges: 3-5 months, 8-10 months, 11-12 months, 17-19 months, 22-25 months. (Mark ‘1’ if your child falls outside these ranges, and ‘5’ if your child falls within one of these age ranges.)
Less True – 1 2 3 4 5 – More True
My child is currently learning a new skill (a new skill = sitting up, crawling/creeping, puling up to standing, walking, etc.)
Less True – 1 2 3 4 5 – More True
My child usually sleeps well at night, but recently, he/she is waking more frequently than normal.
Less True – 1 2 3 4 5 – More True
My child usually naps well, but recently, he/she has begun having shorter-than-normal naps, and sometimes missing naps.
Less True – 1 2 3 4 5 – More True
My child has been extra-clingy lately.
Less True – 1 2 3 4 5 – More True
My child has been crying and fussing more than usual lately.
Less True – 1 2 3 4 5 – More True
My child is normally able to fall asleep independently, without my help (independently means you lay him/her down for sleep awake, and then your child is able fall asleep).
Less True – 1 2 3 4 5 – More True
Your Name:
Your Email:

Sleep Regression? Resources That Can Help

If your quiz indicated that you are most likely facing a sleep regression, take a look at the following resources:

Not A Sleep Regression? It May Be One Of These Problems

If the results of your quiz indicated that your baby or toddler is probably not or most likely not going through a sleep regression, you may be wondering what IS going on with your little one’s sleep. Take a look at the following resources for help:

Sleep Regression Help That Works – Guaranteed!

 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 
 
 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
 
 
 
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.

 

bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOr, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!

 
Baby_On_Computer_RESIZEDIf you are looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation, and want plenty support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations. Your consultation package will provide you with the chance to interact one-on-one with a trained sleep consultant, who will create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for your family and then work to help you implement it at home.
 

Can’t decide which product or service is right for you? Visit our Getting Started Page for help.

10 Must-Know Baby and Toddler Nap Facts. (#7 May Surprise You!)

Baby Toddler Naps

We’ve written quite a bit about baby and toddler naps here on the blog, so if you’ve been following our site for awhile, you’ve had the chance to read a lot of baby and toddler nap tips and tidbits. But, some of you are new moms or new to The Baby Sleep Site® and we strive to educate all of our parents on the importance of good sleep and how to achieve it!

Today, we’re presenting you with 10 must-know facts about your baby’s or toddler’s naps. Think of it as your nap “cheat sheet”. ;)

10 Things You Need To Know About Baby and Toddler Naps

  1. The first nap of the day is the most important. This isn’t to say that other naps aren’t also important. But the first nap of the day tends to be the most restorative, setting the tone for the day, and it’s generally the one that produces the best sleep for babies and young toddlers.
  2. Most babies don’t transition to one nap at 12 months; most transition to one nap between 15-18 months. There seems to be a prevailing opinion out there that at the one year mark, babies should suddenly transition from two naps to one. And some will, with no problem. But we’re here to tell you that making the 2-to-1 nap transition at 12 months isn’t the norm for most babies. In fact, most babies aren’t ready to move to one nap a day until 15-18 months.
  3. Most 6 month old babies aren’t ready for just 2 naps per day; most still need 3 (or even 4). Just as there’s a misconception that all 12 month old babies are ready to transition to one nap per day, there’s also a misconception that 6 month old babies are ready to transition to just 2 naps each day. We think this misconception is at least party due to a recommendation that Weissbluth makes in his book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. In the book, Weissbluth states that only 16% of babies need a third nap after 5 months. Keep in mind this statistic came from a study of a limited number of children.

    We are not discounting Weissbluth’s studies, but we do take it with a grain of salt, since all babies vary in their ability (particularly mood-wise) to stay awake for long periods of time. In our extensive work with families, we’ve found that far more than 16% of babies appear to need 3 naps at 6, 7, even 8 months of age. Therefore, we usually tell parents not to rush into a 2 nap schedule with their 6 month old babies. Doing that increases the chances that their 6 month olds will become overtired, which will in turn affect their night sleep. We’ve found it’s better to stick to a 3 nap schedule (or even a 4 nap schedule) and then gradually transition to a 2 nap schedule around 8 months.

  4. Your child’s nap needs will change greatly between birth and 18 months. Greatly. This just makes sense if you think about it — newborns nap pretty much constantly during the day, while an 18 month old needs just 1 nap. That’s a lot of change during a relatively short period of time!

    So, how many naps does your baby or toddler need in the first 18 months of life? You can read this article for detailed information, but here’s the short version:

    *1-3 MONTHS – 4-5 naps per day, depending on how long his naps are and how long he can stay up between naps.

    *3-4 MONTHS – 4 naps.

    *5-8 MONTHS – probably 3 naps (though some will need 4 until after 7 months). A few babies will only have 2 naps at a very young age, but those naps are usually long.

    *9-15 MONTHS – 2 naps. Some babies will transition to 1 nap at 12 months, but that’s not common.

    *15-18 MONTHS – 1-2 naps. The transition from 2 naps to 1 usually happens in this window of time.

    *18 MONTHS-4 YEARS – 1 nap. The age to transition away from all napping varies a lot, from 2 to 5+ years old, but the average age is between 3 and 4 years old.

  5. Nicole’s Note:
    “But, of course, my son was very NON-textbook. He had 4 naps until 7 months old, because he simply could not stay awake longer than 1 hour 15 to 30 minutes without turning into Senor Cranky Pants! It was simply NOT fun to even try. So, I rolled with it and he stayed home all day pretty much until he seemed to change overnight, taking 3 naps at 7 1/2 months old. He then dropped to two naps a short month later at 8 1/2 months. It happened so fast! He also transitioned to one nap early and away from napping early. I would never have guessed that based on our first 7 months. So, if your baby is struggling with staying awake for long periods, he’s not alone and it could change fast for you, too! :)”

  6. If your baby or toddler sleeps well at night, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll nap well during the day. Remember, nap sleep is different than night sleep. Naps happen during daylight hours, when the sun’s up and when it tends to be noisy and busy. External factors like that can make it hard for a baby or toddler to nap well. And many families struggle with keeping a consistent daily nap routine in place — because life tends to get in the way! That, too, can make it hard for a baby or toddler to nap consistently. Contrast that with nights — it’s dark, it’s (usually) quiet, and everyone is (usually) at home. That at least partly explains why many babies and toddlers who sleep just fine at night struggle with their naps.
  7. On-the-go, “moving” naps aren’t as restorative as naps that happen at home, in bed. This might come as a bit of a surprise, but it’s true — naps that happen “on the go” (in a moving car, for example, or in a moving stroller or shopping cart) aren’t as restorative as naps that happen on a non-moving surface (like a bed). They aren’t as long, for one thing, and during a “moving” nap, your baby’s or toddler’s sleep won’t be as deep. The occasional on-the-go nap isn’t a big deal, of course; sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. But if the majority of your baby’s or toddler’s naps are happening in the car, or in a stroller, you may need to rethink your daytime routines and schedule.
  8. It’s possible for your baby or toddler to nap too much. Yes, we realize that this particular “problem” doesn’t plague most of you. ;) But it’s true; some babies and toddlers nap too much, and it negatively affects their nighttime sleep. How much nap time sleep is too much? You can check out this article for details, but here’s a fast breakdown:

    *INFANT STAGE (birth – 4 months) — newborns will sleep 14-18 total hours during the day. To maximize nighttime sleep, limit naps to two hours, and try to keep your baby awake for 30 minutes between naps. (Need help with newborn sleep? Take a look at our newborn e-Book.)

    *BABY STAGE (4-12 months) – babies need 13-15 total hours of sleep during the day. 2-4 of these hours should be naps (depending on how much sleep your baby is getting at night.)

    *TODDLER STAGE (12 months – 3 or 4 years) – 1-3 hours of total naptime is considered normal and healthy.

  9. Educate yourself on when common nap transitions occur, and how to manage them. Nap transitions are likely to occur at the following times:

    *3-4 MONTHS – baby transitions from 5 naps to 4.
    *5-6 MONTHS – baby transitions from 4 naps to 3.
    *8-9 MONTHS – baby transitions from 3 naps to 2.
    *15-18 MONTHS – toddler transitions from 2 naps to 1.

    As for how to handle these nap transitions? We have loads of resources on that very topic in our Members Area – keep reading for details!

  10. If a nap just isn’t happening, know when to give up and try again later. We end up dispensing this advice quite often to our consultation clients who we are working on nap training: don’t waste too much time trying to make a nap happen. No sense in spending 3 hours trying to force an afternoon nap to happen — at that point, you’re probably closer to bedtime than you are to naptime!
  11. When your toddler is finally done taking naps, consider replacing nap time with “rest time”. It’s always a little sad when your toddler finally ages out of his naps. Gone are those one or two hours of peace, when mom or dad could get some work done, catch up on chores, or take a nap themselves! However, the end of nap time doesn’t have to mean the end of your afternoon peace and quiet. Simply replace nap time with rest time.

BONUS NAP TIP: We like you so much, we’re squeezing in a bonus tip for you! This one deals with short naps, an all-too-common problems for the parents in our Baby Sleep Site® community. The fact is, short naps are normal for newborns and young babies, but by about 6 months of age, most babies are able to take longer naps. Want all the details on why short naps happen, and how to fix the problem? Check out this article on short baby naps.

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Special Members-Only Nap Resources

bss_ebook_masteringnaps_left Mastering Naps & Schedules — For starters, all Baby Sleep Site® members receive unlimited access to all our e-Books. That’s right – for the price of your membership, you can read all our e-Books at no additional cost! That includes Mastering Naps & Schedules. With over 45 sample schedules (all available for you to view in the Members Area), Mastering Naps & Schedules is THE e-Book for tired parents of non-napping kiddos! We tackle all your top napping issues, including how to get your baby or toddler to take longer naps, how to get your child’s naps to be more consistent and predictable, how to manage nap transitions, how to encourage good napping while traveling – and more! Become a member today, and access the e-Book instantly – no download necessary!
 
Tele-seminarNap Tele-Seminars — Another great members-only resource? Our tele-seminars. Hosted by Nicole herself, these 30 – 45-minute tele-seminars offer you insider-information and our trademark sleep coaching methods and techniques. We have several awesome nap-focused tele-seminars, including one on managing nap transitions, and one on lengthening short naps! Listening to these seminars is like getting a coaching session from Nicole! She’ll walk you through the basics of dealing with common nap problems and give you tried-and-true strategies you can implement at home.

Members-Only Nap Articles — And now, we’ve recently added a special members-only article on the hot topic of nap transitions: 5 Practical, Hands-On Tips For Managing Common Nap Transitions. Learn our 5 top secrets for how to gently and painlessly navigate nap transitions, and help them happen in a way that preserves your child’s sleep while also preserving your own sanity! ;-)

For more details about all our member benefits (including weekly chats with a trained sleep consultant and 20% off ALL sleep consulting packages), visit our membership page, and consider becoming a member today!
 
 
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Don’t feel up to working on your baby or toddler’s nap challenges on your own? While our Members Area is great for DIY moms who prefer to tackle sleep challenges on their own, we know that other moms much prefer to go straight to one-on-one help. Well, good news – we offer that, and you can start getting the personal help you need TODAY!

 
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
 

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Are you struggling with any of these 10 points? Have nap questions to ask, or nap tips to share? We want to hear from you!

Sleep Training Boot Camp, Part Six: Handling Sleep Setbacks

 
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New to Sleep Training Bootcamp? Check out our overview page to find out what Sleep Training Boot Camp is all about, and to catch up on past Boot Camp articles.

 

BOOT CAMP, PART SIX: Handling Sleep Setbacks

 
Handling Sleep Setbacks

Boot Campers, you have come SO FAR! Can you believe we’re already at part six of our seven-part series?! For those of you who have been sticking with us this month, and doing the hard work of sleep training – keep it up! You’re almost there! And don’t forget, if you’re feeling discouraged, or if you had to give up because your sleep coaching plans just weren’t working, don’t despair – we can help!

We hope that, at this point, that you are starting to see some improvements in sleep. Sure, things may not be perfect yet – in fact, you may still be a long way from perfect! But ALL progress is good progress. :-)

Today, we’re taking a look at some of the most common sleep setbacks that parents face. Don’t forget that, even when sleep coaching is done, and when your baby or toddler’s sleep is exactly where you want it to be, there will still be setbacks you have to contend with. Specifically, the most common sleep setbacks we see parents struggling with include…

These are all things that can disrupt sleep in a big way – and the disruption can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. So, how can you cope with these setbacks?

Vikki is back to share some tips with us, and to tell us a little bit about the sleep setbacks she’s faced, and how she’s coped. Let’s hear more!

Handling Sleep Setbacks: Vikki’s Sleep Training Story

The Meldrums 2013_4-3My little Lyla Kathleen is not a good sleeper. While today she is a dramatically better snooze artist than she was before I started working with The Baby Sleep Site®, there are still struggles. I think there always will be. I have come to terms with the fact that she’s just never going to be a kid that chooses to go to sleep when she’s tired. Throw in a growth spurt, getting sick, or some teething, and the baby food really hits the fan!

After about eight weeks of following my Personalized Sleep Plan™ and working with Jen, our sleep consultant, little Lyla Kat was falling asleep on her own for naps and at bedtime, and was sleeping through the night about five days a week. This was a dramatic improvement from the previous ten months of nightly tear-streaked faces (hers and mine) and intense whisper fights with my husband about what to do with our exhausted child. I was overjoyed. Jubilant. Euphoric. My baby had peace. I got sleep. Life had reached a new normal that included gobs of glorious slumber. It was amazing. Until it wasn’t.

After weeks of going to sleep so well and sleeping through the night most of the time, at 2 a.m. one morning, I heard a little cry. Then I heard a big scream. I went through the checklist: diaper was fine; temperature in the room was fine; no apparent injuries or indications of being sick or having teeth pain. We had recently weaned from nursing, and I thought maybe she was experiencing some separation anxiety. Maybe she just needed momma. It was kind of sweet. It took an hour to get her back to sleep. I decided it was a hiccup and laid down with a smile, happy I got a little extra time with my girl.

I was not smiling the next night when 2 a.m. rolled around and it happened again. And again the next two nights. Was this separation anxiety or “I just don’t want to sleep”-iety? Was there a lurking tooth? I had no idea, and Lyla wasn’t talking.

I had this horrifying fear that her newfound ability to sleep was only temporary. Or worse, that my child was untrainable and she would be awake the rest of her life. Please note I was very tired. While I was being slightly dramatic, the feeling of failure was very real. She had been doing so well. We’d worked so hard and come so far. Where did we go wrong? I had a pit in my stomach, and I kept thinking, now that sleep training is a failure, where do we go from here?

Sleep Setbacks Do Not Equal Sleep Failure

The Meldrums 2013_4-29After my initial freak about those middle of the night wake-ups, I took three deep breaths, and realized that Lyla’s waking up didn’t mean all our work was lost. It meant something was hindering her from utilizing the tools we taught her, and my job was to get her back on track.

Here’s what I’ve learned since then: when Lyla has “sleep weirdness” as a result of teeth, growth, general fickleness, etc., her disrupted sleep usually lasts about a week. It took a few episodes for my husband and I to realize this pattern. Once we did, though, it helped us stick to our sleep rules, because we knew it was temporary. And after she worked through whatever was causing the disruption, if we stuck to the training, her improved sleep habits returned.

I realized through this process that setbacks are temporary, but sleep training is for life. I didn’t need to make any huge changes or come up with a new strategy. I just had to comfort my baby and reinforce our training. I went back to the plan and the sleep rules, and Lyla, thankfully, went back to sleep. The “fix” for these setbacks was to stay consistent. Remind baby and yourself of the sleep rules. If they aren’t working, like we talked about with naps in the last post, find what works. Update the rules to reflect what your baby needs long-term, but don’t make hasty changes that only solve for the short-term.

Whether your baby is a good sleeper that just needs some fine-tuning, or is a chronically awake little person, like my little bean, there will be setbacks. But remember: SETBACKS DON’T MEAN FAILURE. Even after you’ve found the sleep training approach that works for you and baby, stuff comes up. For us, since training, there have been litanies of slumber-altering situations, including never-ending teething (her pediatrician calls her “Jaws”), the end of the binky era (RIP Pinky the Binky) and, of course, when I stopped nursing.

Sometimes you know or can guess what causes the disruption. Or, especially when they’re too young to talk, it’s a total mystery. But work the steps. Stick to your rules. Keep your sleep routine as normal as possible. If there is a temporary cause to the disruption, no need for a wholesale change in approach. With sleep training, it’s not about big huge flailing moves to get the desired result. It’s about small, specific choices to help direct baby back to the path to sleep.

So, my fellow sleep-seeking parents, please know that even the best sleeper (born or taught) will have times when they struggle to siesta. But a setback does not mean sleep training failure. It means helping baby use the sleep tools even when his/her baby mouth hurts or their internal sleep clock is a little off. Get back to our routine when you can, and baby will, too!

Help For Handling Sleep Setbacks

Isn’t Vikki full of good advice? It’s key to keep her main point in mind when sleep training: sleep setbacks don’t mean sleep training failure! It’s best to stick to your plan, to try and continue fostering good sleep habits, and to just get through the rough patch as best you can.

Of course, that’s sometimes easier said than done, right? Some “rough patches” can be particularly rough! If you find that you need help navigating sleep setbacks (or if you just need help with sleep coaching, period!), I hope you’ll consider a sleep consultation with one of our expert sleep consultants.

Browse our list of sleep consultation packages here.

Once you purchase a package, you will immediately receive access to our Sleep Helpdesk, where you can upload your family sleep history form, connect with your consultant, and get started on your journey to better sleep!

What’s your plan for handling setbacks, boot campers? To those of you who’ve dealt with setbacks before – any advice to offer? Share with us – we want to hear from you!

 
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<--Boot Camp Part Five: What You Need To Know About Nap Training

Boot Camp Part Seven: Celebrate Success, No Matter How Small! –>

Sleep Regressions: Everything You Need To Know

 
Sleep Regressions


 

Sleep regression. It’s a phrase you probably didn’t know existed before you had a baby, but now? Now that your baby is waking every 20 minutes, and you are exhausted beyond all reason? Now that your toddler is waging a fierce anti-nap campaign?

Yeah – it’s a phrase you’re probably familiar with!

Sleep Regressions: What They Are

A sleep regression describes a period of time (anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps (or waking early from naps) for no apparent reason. Parents often describe being caught totally off guard: you think your have conquered all your little one’s sleep challenges, when suddenly, out of nowhere, you’re back to constant night wakings and nonexistent naps.

Frustrating, to say the least!!

Sleep Regressions: When (And Why) They Happen

Remember, every baby is different, so what is true for your friends’ babies may not necessarily be true for yours. That is, your baby or toddler may show true regression signs at some of these month markers, but not others.

That said, there are some seasons during which most babies or toddler so through at least a mild sleep regression:

4 Month Sleep Regression

This one’s permanent, folks! That is to say that the changes that happen with the 4 month sleep regression are permanent changes. By 4 months, your baby has ditched her babyish sleeping patterns and is sleeping more like an adult – and that translates into frequent night waking (and lots of fussing) along with shortened naps.
 
Find 4 month sleep regression help HERE and HERE.
 

8 Month Sleep Regression (sometimes 9 Month Sleep Regression, or even 10 Month Sleep Regression)

This one is all thanks to the developmental milestones that are happening around 8 months, 9 months, and 10 months. At this stage, most babies are making great strides physically – learning to crawl, to pull up, to cruise, etc. There’s also a lot of brain development happening at this stage. Your baby is absorbing language like crazy! Finally, most babies are cutting at least a few teeth during this season. Add it all up, and you get more night waking, shorter (or even skipped) naps, and one cranky baby on your hands.
 
Find 8, 9, 10 months sleep regression help HERE.
 

11 Month Sleep Regression (or 12 Month Sleep Regression)

This one doesn’t seem to affect as many of our clients as the other regressions do – maybe it’s a less common one? At any rate, this regression has a lot to do with naps – specifically, you might find that your baby suddenly starts refusing his or her second nap, and tries to get by with just one nap. Lots of parents assume that this is a normal nap transition, and that it means their little one is ready for just one nap a day. However, we urge parents to treat this one as a regression instead, since most toddlers really aren’t ready to transition to just one nap a day until about 15 months.
 
Find 11 month or 12 month sleep regression help HERE.
 

18 Month Sleep Regression

Oh, parents – this one is a doozie. Why? Because now your baby is a toddler – a walking, talking (well, babbling at least), tantrum-throwing toddler. This regression has a lot to do with your toddler’s new-found independence. She’s learning that – guess what – she has opinions and things! And – even better – she can express those opinions by shouting “NO!” at top volume! Separation anxiety also comes into play here; your toddler may genuinely be distressed when you leave at nap time, or when you walk out of the room at bedtime. Finally, teething is still a factor at 18 months – toddlers are often cutting molars (those big, painful teeth!) around this time.
 
Find 18 month sleep regression help HERE.
 

2 Year Sleep Regression

To be honest, the 2 year sleep regression is a little less straightforward than the others. That’s because there are a variety of factors that can cause it. For one thing, your 2 year old’s awake time is growing longer, but as he makes that transition, it can disrupt sleep. Your 2 year old is likely also going through some big life transitions, like potty training and transitioning to a big-kid bed (and maybe even getting a new sibling!) And around 2 years of age, lots of toddlers begin having very real nightmares (or even night terrors). All of this can lead to a very real, very exhausting sleep regression around 2 years old.
 
Find 2 year sleep regression help HERE.
 

Sleep Regressions: How To Move Past Them

You know the what, the why, and the when behind common baby and toddler sleep regression – now how about the ‘how to’? As in, “How the heck do I fix this and get back to my peaceful nights of sleep again?!?!”

Well, for starters, remember that the 4 month sleep regression is a permanent change – there is no going back to the way things were. Once you are through the worst of the 4 month sleep regression you will want to focus on helping your baby break her sleep associations, and on heaping her learn to fall asleep without help from you. Once she can do that, she will be well on her way to sleeping through the night, and establishing a more predictable daytime schedule.

As for the other sleep regressions, here are a few tips to help you cope WITHOUT undoing all the sleep coaching progress you’ve made up to this point:

  • Don’t be afraid to offer extra feedings. Growth spurts can be a component of sleep regressions, so don’t worry about offering an extra nighttime feeding (or even daytime feeding) here and there. Remember – this is temporary! You will eventually return to your normal schedule.
  • Offer comfort as needed, but avoid making new (or reinstating old) bad habits. You will definitely need to offer your baby or toddler plenty of extra kisses and cuddles during the sleep regression, and this is okay! But avoid creating new sleep associations – avoid rocking your baby to sleep regularly, or nursing her to sleep. Avoid reinstating old bad habits, too – if you have weaned your toddler off the pacifier, for example, don’t revert to offering the pacifier during a sleep regression.
  • Solicit help, and lean hard on your partner. Sleep regressions last for awhile (up to 4-6 weeks, in some cases!) And if you are doing your due diligence, and trying to cope while not creating new sleep associations, you are bound to get tired. This is the time to ask for help from anyone who will offer it! Have friends or family members help you (either with your little one, or with the household management).
  • Offer an earlier bedtime if necessary. Sleep regressions can lead to missed sleep, which can lead to overtiredness, which can quickly spiral into more missed sleep. Yikes! So to ward off exhaustion, offer an earlier bedtime if necessary.

Sleep Regressions: When To Sleep Train (or Sleep Coach)

A last word – be careful to chalk all sleep issues up to sleep regression. While it’s true that these sleep regression stages will last for a few weeks at a time, and there is really nothing to do but wait them out, sleep challenges that are chronic and that have been around for months (or even years!) may need to be solved with sleep training. You can sleep train on your own (and we have resources to hep with that!) But sleep training can be an overwhelming task.

That’s why we created The Baby Sleep Site®, and it’s why we are here to help! If you want personalized help for your baby’s sleep, from a trained sleep consultant, browse our list of consultation packages and and choose the one that looks best for your unique situation.
 
Click here to learn how you can connect one-on-one with a sleep consultant.
 
Or, if you’d like to know more about how our system of personalized baby sleep help works, Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Want even more resources to help you survive a sleep regression? We have plenty!

 
bss_ebook_freeguide_leftWant FREE sleep help that you can put to use right away? Download a copy of our free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night, or, for toddlers, Toddler Sleep Secrets. We even have one especially for naps, called 7 Common Nap Mistakes! Each guide is available to download instantly, which means you can start using the techniques in them as early as tonight. So download now, and learn why your baby or toddler is struggling with sleep – and what you can do about it.
 

bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.

 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep, or (for toddlers) The 5 Step System to Better Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, these e-Books helps you and your baby or toddler sleep through the night.
 
 

bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOr, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!

 
Baby_On_Computer_RESIZEDIf you are looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation, and want plenty support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations. Your consultation package will provide you with the chance to interact one-on-one with a trained sleep consultant, who will create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for your family and then work to help you implement it at home.
 

Can’t decide which product or service is right for you? Visit our Getting Started Page for help.

How are you managing your little one’s sleep regressions? Share your tips and questions below!