Tag Archives: toddler sleep regression

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!

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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! –>

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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:

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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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!

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5 Things You Need to Know About Baby and 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 5 must-know facts about your baby’s or toddler’s naps. Think of it as your nap “cheat sheet”. ;) And we’re not stopping here; look for another post in the near future with 5 additional baby and toddler nap tips.

5 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. (Note the generally there — this isn’t true for everyone!) So, make that first nap a priority. If you have errands to run, run them in the afternoon, if possible. Schedule appointments for the afternoon, if you can.
  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. While it’s possible that your baby will be ready to make the transition at 12 months, we usually urge families to wait until closer to the 15-18 month window before making this shift.
  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.

And for more nap tips and tricks, check out the other post in this series, “5 MORE Things You Need to Know About Baby and Toddler 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!

Which of these 5 things are you currently working through in your house? Any nap-related info you’d like to contribute to our “cheat sheet”? Add your voice to the conversation by commenting below!

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Your Toddler’s Sleep Regressions Explained

 
Toddler Sleep Regressions

Baby and toddler sleep is an ever-shifting, ever-changing thing, isn’t it? Just when you think you’re done with sleep training, done with nap time drama, done with night wakings — you find out you’re not. Something happens (an illness, a bout of teething, a vacation, etc.), and everything falls apart.

And it’s so discouraging. So normal, but so very, very discouraging.

Sometimes, you can trace the blip in your little one’s sleep to an obvious factor (like a recent vacation, for example.) Other times, though, the blip seems to come out of nowhere. In cases like that, you can usually blame a sleep regression.

We’ve written about sleep regressions pretty extensively, so if you’ve been reading The Baby Sleep Site for any length of time, you probably know at least a little bit about when they happen and what they are.

In today’s article, we’re going to put aside the “baby” sleep regressions (the ones that happen at 4 months and at 8, 9, or 10 months) and focus on the two toddler sleep regressions. We’ll look at when the two most common toddler sleep regressions happen, why they occur, what kinds of problems they cause, and how you can cope.

What are Toddler Sleep Regressions, and When Do They Happen?

Most people use the term “sleep regression” to mean that a baby or toddler, who’s been sleeping well, suddenly (often without any warning) begins waking frequently at night and/or refusing to nap during the day. These regressions usually last for a period of time (anywhere from 2 – 6 weeks); then, your baby or toddler’s sleep should return to its normal patterns. (The exception to that rule is the 3/4 month regression; those changes to your baby’s sleep patterns are permanent.)

There are two regressions that happen during toddlerhood: one happens around 18 months, and the other happens right around the 2 year mark.

A Look At the 18 Month Sleep Regression

All sleep regressions can be traced to a baby’s physical and mental development at that particular stage. At 18 months, some of these physical and developmental milestones contribute to the sleep regression:

  • Teething (many toddlers are cutting their 4 canine teeth around 18 months)
  • Separation anxiety (this tends to peak and be at its worst from 10-18 months)
  • Growing sense of independence (18 month olds are learning to exert their own wills, and are likely to resist doing something they don’t want to do — like going to bed)

Truth be told, the 18 month regression is a really, really tough one. Why? Because as we’ve written before, there’s a “discipline factor” involved in this regression that wasn’t part of the earlier sleep regressions:

Being sleep-deprived always makes parenting harder. Add to this the fact that your 18 month old is likely starting to throw temper tantrums and exhibiting plenty of defiant, oppositional behavior, and parenting can seem downright impossible! The stress of dealing with your toddler’s behavior compounds the exhaustion you’re already feeling.

What’s more, these two elements (your toddler’s newfound sleeplessness and your toddler’s oppositional behavior) 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.

For more details about the 18 month sleep regression, check out this article.

A Look At the 2 Year Sleep Regression

The 18 month sleep regression is tough, but the 2 year sleep regression is no picnic, either! There are a number of factors that contribute to your 2 year old’s sleep regression:

  • Awake time is getting longer (this explains why your 2 year old’s sleep schedule may suddenly start falling apart)
  • Separation anxiety may resurface (separation anxiety tends to improve after 18 months, but it may suddenly re-appear when your toddler is about 2)
  • Naps may suddenly stop (we usually advise parents to treat their 2 year old’s naptime resistance as a phase, and to avoid eliminating naps altogether)
  • Big transitions may be happening at home (many 2 year olds are facing transitions like moving to a big kid bed, awaiting the birth of a new sibling, or potty training — and all of these transitions disrupt sleep)
  • Nighttime fears appear at this age (your imaginative 2 year old may suddenly feel afraid of the dark, or of monsters in the closet, and that can affect naps and bedtime)

For more details about the 2 year sleep regression, check out this article.

How to Deal with Toddler Sleep Regressions

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.
  • Don’t rush into altering your toddler’s schedule, or dropping naps. Sleep regressions do pass eventually, and as Nicole has pointed out in past articles, it usually isn’t a good idea to create new, long-term habits for a short-term phase.
  • Do your best to remain consistent, and remind yourself that this phase won’t last forever. ;)
  • Be careful about chalking everything up to this sleep regression (or any other regression phase, for that matter!) If you’ve spent the last year and a half waiting for your “baby” to outgrow her poor sleep habits, you’re dealing with more than just a sleep regression. Instead, it may be time for you to tackle your toddler’s sleep issues head-on.

Need Toddler Sleep Help? Look No Further – The Baby Sleep Site® has you covered!

Need help with your toddler’s sleep? Our team of expert sleep consultants is standing by, ready to create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for your toddler. The first step is to browse our extensive list of package options and select the one that looks best for your situation.
 
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!
 
 

bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalPrefer to work on your toddler’s sleep yourself? No problem – why not check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep, or e-Book all about toddlers? 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.
 
 

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.

How did you cope with the 18 month or 2 year sleep regressions? Share your tried-and-true tips with the rest of us!

Sleep regressions wearing you out? Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of Toddler Sleep Secrets, our e-Book offering tips to help your toddler sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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Toddler Sleep Problems or Typical Toddler Behavior?

Toddler behavior sleep problems
If you have a toddler at home, then you know toddler behavior can often seem downright crazy. From running around naked to eating the dog’s food to peeing in their dresser drawers (yes, this actually happened at my house…). Toddlers tend to act in ways that make even the most veteran, experienced parents shake their heads and say “What?!”

Sometimes, though, it can be hard to distinguish between “normal” toddler behavior and behavior that signals some kind of larger problem or deeper issue. This can be especially true when it comes to our toddler’s sleeping habits.

Maybe your toddler throws huge tantrums every night before bed. Maybe your little guy has “jack-in-the-box” syndrome and pops out of bed every 10 minutes for hours on end. Or, maybe your little girl is plagued with nightmares that make it impossible for her to get a good night’s sleep.

What’s considered “normal” bedtime behavior for a toddler, and what’s a sign of a more serious sleep problem?

Typical Toddler Behaviors

First, let’s take a look at what kind of behaviors are considered typical for toddlers:

  • Your toddler throws tantrums: Very normal! Starting between 18 and 24 months, our toddlers start to develop their own strong feelings and opinions (what they want to eat, what they want to wear, what toy they want to play with), but they don’t have the intellectual and verbal skills to discuss these preferences with us. The result? When things don’t go their way, they use tantrums as a means of communication. Tantrums before bed can also be quite normal. Many toddlers won’t like the idea of stopping play and doing something “boring” (as Nicole’s son puts it!) like going to bed.
  • Your toddler refuses to obey: A general refusal to obey is also really common in the toddler years (and often goes hand-in-hand with tantrums). Remember, your toddler is pretty powerless — you, the parent, are calling all the shots. Shouting “No!” at every turn and refusing to obey even your simplest request is just your toddler’s way of trying to exert control. Therefore, if your toddler’s refusing to obey your bedtime or nap time instructions (like “STAY IN BED!”), you can rest assured that it’s normal.
  • Your toddler has nighttime fears and nightmares: It’s completely normal for your toddler to start having lots of nighttime fears. You might find that your little one suddenly wants to sleep with the light on, or wants you to barricade the closet door against monsters. And you may discover during this stage that your toddler starts to wake during the night as a result of nightmares. This is very standard toddler behavior.
  • Your toddler is going through sleep regressions: There are two sleep regressions you’ll have to contend with during your child’s toddler years: the 18 month regression and the two-year regression. Both of these sleep regressions can be traced to developmental milestones that are happening to your toddler, and both are quite normal.

Nicole’s Note:
“If there was a toddler job description, ‘testing limits’ would be on it. The whole point is to have an independent grown up one day and it starts early! And, their requests aren’t always logical or rational. Maturity does change your toddler from one who cries for 20 minutes that he can’t have the red cup to not caring what kind of cup he has as long as he has something to drink.”

Toddler Behaviors That Can Signal A More Serious Sleep Problem

Some toddlers’ bedtime behaviors are more extreme. And these can be a sign of a more serious, underlying sleep problem. While it’s usually fine to ignore normal nap time and bedtime behavior (like tantrums before bed), you probably won’t want to ignore some of these more serious problems:

  • Your toddler regularly doesn’t get enough nighttime and nap time sleep: It’s one thing for toddlers to resist bedtime or nap time, but if you’re finding that your toddler is routinely missing out on the sleep he needs, that’s a problem. Toddlers should be sleeping 10-12 hours each night (depending on age), and taking between one and two naps (of at least an hour each) during the day. If your toddler is regularly getting less than that, it can start to impact her growth, development, and behavior.

    This kind of sleeplessness could be a sign of an underlying sleep issue (like Restless Leg Syndrome or sleep apnea). It can also be a sign of a nutritional deficiency (like a magnesium or iron deficiency.) If you suspect an underlying medical issue might be to blame, take your toddler to see a healthcare provider.

    Of course, this can also be a sign that your toddler is in need of some sleep coaching (especially if your toddler has never slept through the night, or has never taken a decent nap!) Many parents assume, when their children are babies, that they will outgrow their sleep issues. However, we’ve talked to enough parents of toddlers over the years to know that’s not always the case. If your little guy or little girl has been waking multiple times each night for years, it’s time to teach your toddler how to sleep through the night.

    (Do note that it’s very normal for you toddler to get less sleep during a sleep regression. It’s when your toddler is regularly getting less sleep than is recommended that it becomes an issue.)

  • Your toddler is having night terrors: Nightmares and nighttime fears are standard, but true night terrors are something else altogether. During a night terror, your child will seem to be awake (her eyes may be open, or he may be sitting up in bed and shouting), but you’ll find that your toddler doesn’t really “wake up.” You’ll also be unable to comfort your toddler for the first few minutes of a night terror. These episodes can be as terrifying for parents as they are for toddlers.

    If your toddler’s night terrors are few and far between, then they’re probably not cause for serious concern. But if the night terrors are a regular event, and they’re interfering with your toddler’s sleep, you may want to make a trip to see a healthcare provider. There are currently no treatments for night terrors, but there are steps you can take to manage and prevent night terrors at home.

Nicole’s Note:
“One important note is that sometimes lack of sleep is directly related to your toddler’s behavior. With my son, I ALWAYS saw a rise in tantrums and defiance when he didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Sleep can’t cure all toddler behavior, but lack of sleep can definitely make your days more tantrum-prone (and exhausting)!”

How To Tell if Your Toddler’s Bedtime Behavior is Typical or Not

If you’re trying to determine whether your toddler’s behavior falls in the “Typical” or “Not-So-Typical” category, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my toddler getting the sleep he needs? If the answer is yes, then you can consider any bedtime tantrums or disobedience to be ordinary toddler behavior. Yes, it may be driving you up a wall, but it’s likely nothing to be overly concerned about. If the answer is no, however, then don’t ignore the problem. You’ll need to take steps to help your toddler overcome his sleep issues and start getting the naps and nighttime sleep he needs.
  • Is this a phase? If your toddler normally sleeps well, but has had a few days/weeks of sleeplessness, then you can probably chalk it up to being a phase (especially if you’re in the 18 or 24 month window; if that’s the case, you’re probably smack in the middle of a sleep regression.) However, if your toddler’s sleeplessness is a regular affair around your house, and has been a long-term problem, it’s not a phase. Rather, it’s a problem that needs to be corrected through planning and sleep training.
  • Are my parental instincts telling me something else is going on? Moms and Dads, hear this: your instincts are powerful things. If you have a feeling that there’s something serious underlying your toddler’s sleep problems, or that there may be a medical issue involved, don’t ignore it. Remember, you know your toddler better than anyone else, so if you have concerns, act on them.

Nicole’s Note:
“What’s funny is that my younger son was sooo laid back, especially compared to my first (who inspired The Baby Sleep Site). But, one day, I had to ask myself ‘What happened to my laid back son??’ A boy who once happily went upstairs when I said ‘nap time’ started to say ‘Noooo!’ It turned out it wasn’t a phase. He simply became more aware that it was more fun to play. His toughest years were actually 3 to 4 1/2 years old whereas his brother’s was 2 1/2 to 4 (and I was sooo happy I was already pregnant with his brother lest he surely would have been an only child!). ‘Terrible Twos’ is a misnomer.”

If your toddler’s behavior falls in the “Typical” category, then don’t spend too much time worrying about it. Instead, practice good discipline. Set firm nap time and bedtime boundaries for your toddler, and then enforce them. Work to establish a good routines; these can help create a sense of predictability around nap time and bedtime, and may eliminate some battles.

However, if your toddler’s behavior falls in the “Not So Typical” category, then figure out what action you’re going to take. If necessary, visit a healthcare provider, especially if you know (or even have a feeling) that something medical may be going on. If you know the problem’s not a medical one, but rather that your toddler is in dire need of sleep training, then take that first step on the road to better sleep for your toddler (and for you!)

Do you have a toddler at home? Have you struggled with frustrating nap time and bedtime behaviors? What solutions have worked for your family? Share your tips with other parents!

Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of Toddler Sleep Secrets, our e-Book offering tips to help your toddler sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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How to Manage Your Baby or Toddler’s Nap Transitions

You know what frustrated me most when my oldest son was a baby and a young toddler?

The fact that just when I’d worked out a nice, predictable daytime sleep schedule, he’d get a little bit older, and that would blow my perfectly-crafted routine to pieces.

I’m positive a lot of you know exactly what I’m talking about (even those of you who’ve never been able to establish a nap schedule.) The first few years of a child’s life are full of changes, and those changes add up to mean ever-shifting sleep patterns and schedules.

This is really apparent when you consider a child’s typical nap schedule from birth to toddlerhood. Newborn babies take 5 or more naps each day; by 18 months, toddlers are taking one nap. That’s a lot of change. And transitioning between all those nap schedules can be a huge headache for little ones and for their parents.

That’s what we’re tackling today. It’s time to talk all about nap-transitions – let’s get started!

When Do Nap Transitions Usually Happen?

There’s no blueprint, of course, that’ll let you know exactly when your baby or toddler is due for a nap transition. However, there’s a general timeline (we’ve shared it previously in this article) that most babies and toddlers seem to follow, and that will be helpful in pinpointing when nap transitions are most likely to occur:

  • From 1-4 months, the number of naps your baby takes will be variable, but will hover around 4-5 naps per day, depending on how long his naps are and how long he can stay up between naps.
  • By 3 or 4 months old, she will lean towards just 4 naps, rather than 5.
  • From 5-8 months, most babies will have three naps per day. They will start to resist the fourth nap, no matter how tired they are. There are a few babies who will only have two naps at a very young age, but those naps are usually long.
  • From 9-15 or 18 months, on average, your baby will nap two times a day. Although many people believe most babies can transition to one nap at 12 months, the average age is actually 15 to 18 months.
  • From 18 months to 4 years, toddlers nap once a day. 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.

The early nap transitions (from five, to four, to three) usually happen quickly and aren’t as problematic. It’s the other nap transitions (from three, to two, to one, to none) that tend to frustrate parents. Those nap transitions take longer, for one thing (my middle son has been transitioning from one nap to none for the past YEAR), and they seem to affect children more noticeably.

Nicole’s Note:
“By far, we get the most questions in the Helpdesk about the transition from 3 to 2 naps and from 2 to 1. The 2 -> 1 transition can be the most difficult, for some, because you now have a toddler who has tantrums and a mind of her own! ;) It also causes the most sleep deprivation, usually.”

How To Tell If A Nap Transition’s Approaching

How will your baby or toddler let you know that a nap transition is coming? Here are a few signs to look for:

  • Your baby or toddler begins consistently refusing a nap: Most parents find that their little one suddenly starts refusing a nap (usually an afternoon one) that, just yesterday, they agreed to without a problem. That tends to be the classic sign that a nap transition is approaching.
  • The timing of your baby’s or toddler’s naps begins to change: Other parents discover that before a nap transition, the schedule generally goes crazy. Naptime goes from being predictable to being all over the place. This can interfere with nighttime sleep, too — if the afternoon nap doesn’t happen until late afternoon or early evening, for example, it can interfere with bedtime.
  • The length of your baby’s or toddler’s naps begins to change: You may notice that one or more of your little one’s naps are suddenly much shorter than normal. This can be a sign that your baby or toddler is getting ready to drop a nap.

Signs of an Approaching Nap Transition, or Signs of a Sleep Regression?

One thing to remember — not all nap craziness is a sign that a nap transition’s coming on. Let’s not forget about those sleep regressions! Refusing to nap is often a symptom of a sleep regression; in those cases, it shouldn’t be treated as a sign that a nap transition is coming on.

For example, a baby who’s in the throes of the 8/9/10 month sleep regression may start to resist naps. But that’s not a sign that she should downshift from two naps to one — not at all! Most children aren’t ready for one nap until 15-18 months. Similarly, an 18 month old who suddenly starts refusing to nap probably isn’t giving up naps altogether — he’s probably just going through the 18 month sleep regression.

How to tell the difference? Wait a bit. Most regressions work themselves out within a week or two. If the napping issues haven’t resolved themselves within a few weeks, then you can think about making a nap transition.

Nicole’s Note:
“We tend to be cautious about jumping into a nap transition. Our general rule of thumb is to wait until your baby is skipping a nap more than 4 times a week. All situations can have the ‘What ifs’ of course, so we evaluate it on a case-by-case basis. Many times, your baby doesn’t seem to give you a choice and you know what to do.”

Making Baby and Toddler Nap Transitions Easier

For some babies and toddlers (especially those who are highly adaptable), nap transitions are a piece of cake. They only take a few days, and there’s little (if any) “pain and suffering” involved. If that’s the case in your home, then a sort of “cold turkey” approach to nap transitions might work well. Simply cut out a nap, re-vamp the schedule, and endure a few fussy days. Bam. Done.

For others, though, nap transitions are difficult and loooong. If your baby or toddler is in that second category, you’d probably appreciate some suggestions as to how to make those transitions a bit easier, right?

We hear you. That’s why we’ve included so many nap-focused resources in our Members Area. Check them out below!

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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-minute tele-seminars offer you insider-information and our trademark sleep coaching methods and techniques. And guess what? We have a special tele-seminar that’s completely focused on managing nap traditions. That’s right – as a member, you will have access to a 30 – 45-minute coaching session with Nicole herself! She’ll walk you through the basics of navigating nap transitions without destroying your existing daytime schedule, or ruining night sleep.

Members-Only Nap Articles — And now, we’ve recently added a special members-only article on this very topic: 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!

How have you handled nap transitions with your baby or toddler? Share your wisdom with us!

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5 Things You Need to Know About Your 2 Year Old’s Sleep

 
2 Year Sleep Regression


 

If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you’re likely no stranger to the concept of sleep regressions. You’ve probably experienced them first-hand, right? ;) If you’re new here, however, let us fill you in. A sleep regression refers to a period of time when a baby or toddler who’s been sleeping well suddenly begins waking at night and during naptime, or even refusing to go to sleep at all.

There are several distinct regression phases that most babies and toddlers experience: one at 4 months, another at 8, 9, or 10 months, a third around 18 months, and (as if three weren’t enough!) a final one around 2 years. This article will focus on some of the challenges surrounding your 2 year old’s sleep, including elements that are part of the 2 year sleep regression.

5 Facts About Your 2 Year Old’s Sleep

1: Your 2 year old’s awake time is longer.

As your toddler grows, she needs progressively less sleep than she did as an infant. Most 2 year olds need approximately 12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, on average; compare that to a newborn’s need for about 16 hours of sleep! And of course, most of your toddler’s sleep is happening at night now. You may also find that your 2 year old is showing more resistance to bedtime than usual, and that she’s falling asleep late. Or, she may be waking too early. All this adds up to equal less downtime (and maybe less sleep!) for you.

Nicole’s note:
“We start getting a lot of e-mails around this time of year that toddlers are beginning to “fight bedtime.” Here in the States, when we are approaching summer, it stays light later and this can directly influence your toddler’s internal clock. Nights may get shorter, but this is temporary! She may truly be unable to fall asleep at an earlier time.”

2: Your 2 year old’s separation anxiety may resurface around this time.

Separation anxiety peaks around 18 months, but it can appear off and on until your child is 5 or 6 (or maybe even after! Yikes!!) At age 2, separation anxiety can be based on actual fear; your 2 year old may be afraid to be left alone, or with people he doesn’t know. However, it can also come from a desire not to miss out on the fun! By now, your 2 year old knows that when you leave, you don’t just disappear. Instead, he knows that you’re off somewhere not far away, having (in his mind, at least) tons of fun without him. Understandably, he doesn’t want to be left out! If this separation anxiety surfaces as soon as you walk out the door during naptime and/or bedtime, it can disrupt your toddler’s sleep.

Nicole’s note:
“Many parents report they have to, all of a sudden, stay with their 2 year old as she falls asleep at nap and bedtime. This is SO common!”

3: Your 2 year old may suddenly stop napping.

Around 2 years of age, some toddlers abruptly stop taking an afternoon nap. You might find that when you put your 2 year old down for her nap, she spends the entire hour talking/laughing/singing/playing. Or, you may find that your 2 year old’s nap resistance isn’t nearly so pleasant — she may spend the whole hour screaming! As with separation anxiety, this sudden resistance to naps can come from your 2 year old’s desire not to miss out on anything. It can also be the result of her growing self-awareness and independence — she’s becoming more aware of what she wants, so if she doesn’t want to lie down for a nap, she’s going to let you know it!

We advise parents to treat this sudden naptime resistance as a regression, and not as something permanent. Most children won’t completely give up their naps until 3 or 4. It’s best to simply stay consistent with your 2 year old’s schedule and routine, and to not give up on the nap just yet.

Nicole’s note:
“All 2 year olds are different, of course. We, personally, had to stop allowing a nap around 2 1/2, because my son’s awake time approached 7 hours after nap and waking up at 3pm…well you can do the math. It was after my bedtime!”

4: Your 2 year old may be going through some transitions that disrupt sleep.

There are a few common transitions your 2 year old may be experiencing:

  • Moving to a big boy / big girl bed: Although more children make this transition closer to age 3, some toddlers make this step at age 2. This new sleeping arrangement can make it harder for your 2 year old to sleep well at night and for naps, since the new bed is unfamiliar. You may also find your 2 year old taking advantage of his new-found freedom and getting out of bed often, even when you’ve told him again and again to stay put! (A side note: Whether you do it age 2 or wait a bit longer, when the time does come to make the move to a big kid bed, we recommend that you toddler proof your toddler’s room carefully.)
  • Potty training: Again, most children aren’t potty trained until age 3 (or even later.) But some parents begin the potty training process around age 2. If your 2 year old is in the midst of potty training, you may find her waking from sleep and needing to use the potty. And even those 2 year olds who haven’t begun potty training yet are still becoming more and more aware of their bodily functions. It’s not uncommon for toddlers this age to wake early in the morning from a full bladder or needing to poop. And by age 2, most children are much more aware of the uncomfortable feeling that a wet or full diaper causes.
  • New sibling: Of course, this doesn’t apply to all 2 year olds, but around age 2, some children are preparing for or adjusting to having a new brother or sister around. This is a huge change for toddlers, and (as with all major changes) it can cause lots of anxiety for them. Couple that with the fact that the new baby is likely causing some anxiety for you, too (as you work to juggle multiple schedules), and it can mean that no one is getting much sleep!

Nicole’s note:
“We potty trained around 2 1/2 with both boys (which was late for one and a good age for the other). You might remember my article about potty training my second son, here: 6 ways Potty Training is Like Sleep Training.”

5: Your 2 year old may begin having nighttime fears.

By age 2, your toddler is becoming much more imaginative. This makes for really fun and entertaining play, but boy, can it ever be a problem at night! Most 2 year olds’ nighttime fears are triggered by the dark, and all the things that come with it — spooky shadows, monsters lurking under the bed, etc. By this age, toddlers are growing more aware of the world and realizing that there are “bad guys” and things out there that can hurt them. These new nighttime fears can lead to things like nightmares, and even night terrors.

Nicole’s note:
“My eldest (who inspired this site) began to be afraid of dinosaurs, no matter how many times I tried to define the word ‘extinct’. :) These aren’t always rational fears to us adults, but very real to them, so be patient and empathetic.”

As with any regression phase, the best thing to do when you encounter these problems is to cope as best you can. Work hard to stay consistent, and try to remind yourself that it won’t last forever. :) Keep in mind, too, that you don’t want to your toddler to form any bad habits while you’re working on getting through the 2 year sleep regression, so let that guide your decisions about how you’re going to cope. As Nicole always says, “You don’t want to make or continue long-term habits for a short-term phase.”

Finally, if you’re doing your best to cope with your 2 year old’s terrible sleep but are finding yourself at the end of your rope, consider contacting us! We have the products and services you need to get your 2 year old sleeping well again.

 
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Want FREE sleep help that you can put to use right away? Download a copy of our free guide, Toddler Sleep Secrets! The guide is available to download instantly, which means you can start using the techniques in it as early as tonight. So download now, and learn why your fodder is waking at night and resisting naps – and what you can do about it.
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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.
 

Did your 2 year old experience any of these sleep challenges? How did you cope? Share your story!

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18 Month Sleep Regression Is One of the Hardest

 
18 Month Sleep Regression

Your sweet girl, who’s been sleeping peacefully at night for months, is suddenly waking multiple times each night and wailing loudly. Your little man, who’s been taking two nice long naps each day for ages, suddenly begins resisting nap time, refusing to lie down and go to sleep. Sound familiar? You may be experiencing the 18 month sleep regression.

If you’re the parent of a toddler, then a sleep regression is something you’re probably familiar with. After all, you’ve no doubt experienced the following sleep regressions:

4 month sleep regression
8/9/10 month sleep regression
12 month sleep regression (this one is less common, but your baby may have gone through it).

And if that’s not all, there’s a 2-year sleep regression, too!

So what’s a tired mom to do? This article will outline what the 18 month regression looks like, why it happens, why it can be one of the hardest, and steps you can take to survive it.

18 Month Sleep Regression Background: What is a “Sleep Regression”, Anyway?

Most people use sleep regression to mean that a baby or toddler, who’s been sleeping well, suddenly (often without any warning) begins waking frequently at night and/or refusing to nap during the day. These regressions usually last for a period of time (anywhere from 2 – 6 weeks), and then the baby’s sleep returns to its normal patterns.

18 Month Sleep Regression: Why 18 Months?

Every sleep regression can be connected to a baby’s mental and physical development at that particular age. The same is true of the 18 month regression. 18 month olds experience some developmental milestones that can, unfortunately, negatively impact their sleep.

  • 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 olds are gaining lots of independence and are able to do more for themselves. Children at this age are learning to feed themselves with a spoon, drink from a cup, build with blocks, and even take off some articles of clothing. This growing independence can lead to a stronger will, which means a baby may start exerting herself when she doesn’t want to go to sleep or stay in bed.

18 Month Sleep Regression: One Of The Hardest Sleep Regressions Of All

All sleep regressions are difficult and exhausting, but the 18 month sleep regression can be one of the hardest, for one simple reason — there’s a discipline factor involved in this regression that wasn’t present in the earlier ones. The previous regressions didn’t have anything to do with defiant behavior on your baby’s part, but this one does.

Being sleep-deprived always makes parenting harder. Add to this the fact that your 18 month old is likely starting to throw temper tantrums and exhibit plenty of defiant, oppositional behavior, and parenting can seem downright impossible! The stress of dealing with your toddler’s behavior compounds the exhaustion you’re already feeling.

What’s more, these two elements (your toddler’s newfound sleeplessness and your toddler’s oppositional behavior) 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.

18 Month Sleep Regression Tips and Hints

While there is no way to “fix” any sleep regression, including the 18 month sleep regression, there are steps you can take to minimize your baby’s sleeplessness (and your own!)

Again, part of the challenge of the 18 month sleep regression likely has to do with the fact that your toddler is heading into the “Terrible Twos” and is starting to show some downright awful behavior. This is the time to begin setting limits for your toddler and enforcing discipline. Not only will this help minimize sleeplessness, it’ll help you develop a good foundation that will make your baby’s twos and threes a little less “terrible”.

If you’re in the midst of sleep training when the 18 month sleep regression hits, you may wonder if you should just throw in the towel for awhile. We recommend that you don’t. It’s true that sleep training likely won’t produce fantastic results during this phase, but remember that you don’t want to promote bad sleep habits during a stage that is ultimately temporary. As Nicole says, “You don’t want to make or continue long-term habits for a short-term phase.

If your baby’s extremely resistant to naps during the 18 month sleep regression, you may feel tempted to just drop the nap altogether. Again, we recommend that you don’t. Most toddlers don’t drop their naps until between three and four years old, so don’t quit just yet!

Fall back on old sleep coaching techniques, if necessary. If you have successfully sleep coached before, try implementing old sleep coaching techniques to get you through this phase. Sleep coaching techniques like fading or check-and-console can help you survive the 18 month sleep regression without falling back into old patterns.

Remember that the 18 month sleep regression is a phase, and while it can feel like an eternity when you’re enduring it and may have you feeling even less confident as a parent, it won’t last forever. If your baby normally sleeps well and you feel confident that her recent sleeplessness is due to the 18 month regression, then be as patient as you can and wait it out.

18 Month Sleep Regression Help

That said, be careful about chalking everything up to the 18 month sleep regression (or any other regression phase, for that matter!) If your baby’s never slept well, and if you’ve spent the last 18 months waiting for your baby to outgrow her poor sleep habits, then you can’t blame everyone’s sleeplessness on the sleep regression. Instead, it may be time for you to tackle your baby’s sleep issues head-on. If you need help getting your baby sleeping better, not to worry – we can help! We have helped thousands of families around the world with their babies’ sleep challenges, and we can help you, too! Take a look at our consultation packages, and see which one looks like a good fit for you.

Click here to see all our personalized consultation packages.

Once you purchase, you will immediately receive access to the Helpdesk, and you can set up your account, fill out your Family Sleep History form, submit it to a consultant, and get started on the journey to better sleep!

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.

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Click here to learn more about how to get your free guide.

A better night’s sleep could be just a few clicks away. So don’t wait – download now, and start your journey to better sleep tonight!
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Need Baby and Toddler Sleep Help? We Have the Resources You Need!

 
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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!

 

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Did your toddler experience the 18 month sleep regression? How did you handle it?

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