Top 5 Ways to Handle Toddler Sleep Regression
You’ve heard the rumors. Seen others whisper. You’ve seen other parents’ eye widen when the topic comes up. But now you’re finally experiencing it for yourself – the dreaded 18-month sleep regression. Your once-perfect sleeper is suddenly refusing bedtime, waking up at all hours, and staring at you bright eyed at 3 am. We promise it’s going to be okay, you just need to apply some method to the madness. Here’s a great start:
Respond consistently every night
We know it’s hard, but when your little one gets out of bed repeatedly throughout the night, it’s important to maintain the same, emotionless routine – pick them up, place them back in their bed, and walk away. Don’t chit chat or soothe, don’t smile or frown. Just pick them up and put them back where they came from. If you hear them playing, let them. They’ll eventually tire themselves out and fall asleep. As long as they’re in the bed, it’s okay.
Let your child make small decisions at bedtime
Toddlers are testing out their newfound independence, even at bedtime. To negotiate a kiddo who refuses to go to bed, try giving them a few decisions to make, so they feel like they’re somewhat in charge. Keep their same bedtime routine, but add in little choices, like: “Do you want dinosaur pjs or superhero pjs?” and “Do you want your teddy bear or unicorn stuffie?”
Allow naps to happen more organically
While it’s important to maintain daily naps, loosening up on the timing can help resistant nappers. Instead of laying your little one down at the same time every day, keep an eye out for signs they’re ready to snooze – getting clingy, rubbing their eyes, yawning, etc. Then carry them to bed for some shut eye.
Put away the smartphones and tablets
This is a tip we should all follow. The blue light emitted from screens is known to affect our natural sleep cycle and keep us awake longer. Make sure to put away all smart devices and turn off TVs at least two hours before bedtime. Start creating that soothing, peaceful environment early.
Keep your cool
Keep in mind that, as frustrating as this is for you, it’s even more upsetting for little ones. They aren’t sure what’s going on or why, they just know they’re cranky and sleepy. So keep perspective and maintain an outer calm. A cool, calm, collected vibe will go a long way in getting kiddo back on track.
Remember – this should pass, usually in just a few weeks. But make sure to keep monitoring your little one. If you’re unable to get baby’s sleep schedule under control or they’re sleeping a lot less than they should, consult your pediatrician to make sure their development is still on track.