NAVIGATING THE 18 MONTH SLEEP REGRESSION
Just when you get through one, another one hits. Or at least, it can sure feel that way, right?
I couldn’t believe how many regressions seemed to show up with my 3 girlies - but especially with my first. Why was this happening?!
Regressions can be tough, but they’re actually a good thing! It means your kiddo is learning a new skill - it’s just that they keep trying to learn that skill and their little brains won’t power down for the night until they master it.
You know I’m pretty famous for (lovingly) telling you like it is. And I won’t sugarcoat it - the 18 month sleep regression can be particularly hard. Why?
The 18 month sleep regression often coincides with separation anxiety AND the 2-1 nap transition. It’s not easy being 18 months old! They’re going through a lot already, so it’s important we approach this with patience, grace, and understanding. I know it’s not always easy, especially when you haven’t slept well in days (or more!), and you’re running on fumes. But I find that seeing things from my child’s perspective really helps the empathetic feelings.
Separation anxiety can be a struggle because your kiddo might latch on to you specifically, or never want to be left alone. And dropping a nap is a pretty big transition on its own, as your little one both needs and doesn’t need that sleep throughout the day. It’s a lot! Then throw in a regression and things get really messy. But like you’ve survived every regression before this, you’ll all get through this one too. I’m here to remind you that regressions are a good thing, they’re temporary, and you’ll come out the other side.
That doesn’t mean you and your little one have to suffer through them though! There’s a handful of ways that can help things go smoother for everyone.
Ready? Take out your pen & paper!
Here’s the thing, sometimes that regression can be made a whole lot worse because of the overtiredness that happens when they’re learning to drop a nap. Dropping a nap can be tricky because they do and don’t need the nap at the same time. Confusing, I know! So if still having that second nap isn’t wrecking the night sleep schedule, keep the second nap as long as possible. Alleviating some of the “change” that your baby is going through at the 18 month mark will help make things a little more manageable for everyone.
But of course the time will come when it’s very necessary to drop that nap. While you’re helping your child make the transition, it’s really important to bump up bedtime so they don’t get overtired like we talked about. Otherwise, try to stay consistent when making this change. The only way out of a regression (and nap transition!) is through it. That means the more consistent you stay, the faster you get through it. It’s really important to not just introduce another sleep crutch to help them through the regression. It’s tempting for sure! But we all know that doing that will only create more hurdles, and drag out this uncomfortable time. I’m not saying you have to turn into Sargeant Strict in order to see sleep success. I’m just saying that we don’t want to be adding problems in an effort to survive the regression.
Especially when it comes to separation anxiety, you want to reassure your child that you’re still there. Anxiety is tough, and a little reassurance from Mom or Dad can go a long way for the little ones in your home.
Just like with any regression, you want to take it in stride. If your little one won’t sleep:
- Give them a few minutes to settle themselves. If after a while it’s still not working, help them settle and then leave the room so they can try again.
- Stick to your usual routines. Keeping what you can consistent will help them get their ZZZs
- Make sure their room is optimized for great sleep
- Keep up their independent sleep skills
Regressions can be tough to navigate - especially when they’re dealing with even more sleep changes at the same time! You’ve been through sleep regressions before, and you can do it again! Sometimes it just takes a little patience, compassion, and consistency to help get through it.
Sleep regressions are a major motivator for when clients decide to work with me. I’m here to guide you, support you in your struggle, and give you alllll the reassuring (and effective!) sleep advice you’re up for. Peep my services or get in touch directly so you and your little one can get the sleep you need, and start living your best life!