It may seem like a switch has flipped and your easy/good sleeper no longer knows how to sleep. Don't worry, there are reasons why it's happening and things to do to get your 18-month old back to sleeping well.
First, why does this particular sleep regression happen?
It's equal parts separation anxiety and change in sleep needs.
Object permanence and what we call FOMO (fear of missing out) are here to stay and it becomes hard for our tiny toddlers to see you go each night and at nap time. They now realize that hanging with Mom and Dad is way more fun that taking a nap or going to bed. So, your once smooth bedtime routine may now be met with resistance and tears.
My best advice for this?
Stay the course. Continuing to be calm, reassuring and firm is the fastest way out of this regression. Don't veer from your previous routine even if that means tears (from both of you). Instead, choose a comforting technique that works for you or one that you've used in the past. A common method would be to do 'pop-ins'. It looks like waiting a designated amount of minutes, I recommend 10, and then popping back in with a quick verbal reminder.
What else may be causing your toddler to have a sleep regression?
Decrease in sleep needs. As you can see below, there is an hour less sleep needed around 18-19 months old. It can affect every child differently, and at different times. But on average, it happens at 18-months old. Total sleep needs are going from 13-13.5 hours in 24 hours to 12-12.5 hours in 24 hours.
My favorite schedule for 18-months old.
It's okay if we ask for more crib time than sleep time is needed. The most important part is the timing of when sleep is asked for. By moving nap to 12:30, it will allow extra sleep pressure to build for nap AND for bedtime.
🔅Push nap forward 30 mins to 12:30 🕧
🔅Keep bedtime simple but be sure to dedicate time to a family ritual like reading or singing. Don't entertain stalling or crying.
🔅Stay confident and patient.
🔅 Make sure lights are still on throughout bedtime routine and no drowsiness is induced before into crib time.
🔅Reach out if you need extra help. Many times, a 30-minute phone call could be all that's needed to get back on track. Email me at email@example.com for a special link to book a tune-up call 📞 Only available for kiddos who have a great independent sleep foundation built.
Lindsay Loring is a certified pediatric sleep consultant. She is a Mom to twin girls and lives in the Metro St. Louis, MO region. Lindsay helps families all over achieve more predictable bedtime and nap time routines for their children. Book your free one on one call with her now!