18 month sleep regression-this too shall pass

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After a year of basically hardly sleeping, following months of breastfeeding Rose what felt like non-stop throughout the night, we were lulled into a false sense of security. Around the time Rose hit her first birthday she gradually began to accept that she was cool with bedtime and actually got into a routine of bath, milk, story, kiss us all goodnight into her cot (awake and happy to be there) and sleep until the next morning.

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And then she hit a massive, massive sleep regression, which hit us like a tonne of bricks to the face. As you know I have two teenagers, so have been through all this before. As the years go by, you forget more and more the nights you spent watching the hours tick by on the clock. The stealthy backward floorboard creaking ninja retreat from the bedroom. The shushing and cooing and softly singing in the vain hope of lulling a resistant little one back into the land of nod. I suppose over the past 20 months I have spent a great deal of time telling myself that the bumps in the road we face, whilst they seem major now, will eventually become a fleeting and distant memory. I think about how it’s hard to recall specific details and at times how awful things can get and how hopeless it can feel.

I wanted to write this post for parents reading my blog who are suffering from lack of sleep or anyone fervently Googling sleep regressions or issues with sleep and how to cope. I just want to let you know that it’s completely normal and this too shall pass! I promise, I know it seems hard to deal with now and you wonder if it will ever resolve itself, if you will ever have an uninterrupted nights sleep again, there is hope. In the meantime here are some reasons why this is happening and a few tips to help you survive this rotten sleep regression..

  • At around 18-20 months there is usually a sleep regression, this can also coincide with teething (double whammy), which in turn causes discomfort and pain at night.
  • Separation anxiety hits a peak at this age. Rose had gone from self-settling and being put to bed in her cot on her own to screaming the whole house down as soon as we left the room. Your toddler is developing rapidly at this age and is becoming even more aware that there is a big wide world out there. This can make her feel small and out of control needing extra reassurance, hence not wanting to be left alone. We also noticed at this time that Rose wouldn’t nap during the day on own and she was extremely clingy and fussy.
  • As your toddler gets older and more independent this will probably lead to more defiant behaviour and strong will. One of the ways of demonstrating this new found independence is refusing to go to bed or take naps.
  • Your toddler may have dropped her morning nap or daytime naps all together by now, try and set aside some quiet time during the day and if possible encourage a nap. Perhaps by going out in the car or for a walk in the buggy-somewhere you know she will sleep. If you have time lie down with her and grab a few winks yourself, I know this is easier said than done if you have more than one child, believe me I’ve been there but the last thing you want is an overtired baby, makes bedtime twice as hard.
  • Stick to a routine and the same bedtimes as much as possible. Don’t undo all the hard work you’ve done already by breaking routine.
  • We eat dinner pretty early so found offering a low sugar snack an hour before bed has helped. Most toddlers are having a growth spurt at around this age so could be waking due to hunger.
  • If all else fails let your toddler into your bed. I know this is controversial and not everyone agrees but sometimes you’ve just got to get some sleep. I did this with Holly and she did have her moments of still sneaking into my bed at the age of three but do you know what, she’s 14 now and wouldn’t dream of getting into bed with me in the middle of the night!

Try and remember that this is just a phase. It usually lasts around 2-6 weeks and will get easier as time goes on. Rose just hit 20 months and is fingers crossed, sleeping through the night again (hooray) and not putting up too much of a fight at bedtime.

Have you any tips to add? I Would love to hear your experiences and how you dealt with things.

 

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Comments

  • martyn

    Written on 12th February 2015

    Reply

    Great post. Some brilliant reasons and tips. I’ve got past that now but no know how at the time you feel like it’s never ending. Although saying that even when I check on the boys at bedtime I still pull the odd ninja move to get past the creaky floor boards!!
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  • Steph @MisplacedBrit

    Written on 12th February 2015

    Reply

    This is a great post, and such a great reminder! …This is my third child in 5 years for goodness sakes!! And I still have eureka moments when all of a sudden I remember something I’d long forgotten!
    In this post… It was the ‘separation anxiety’ …HOW have I forgotten that?! :-)
    Steph @MisplacedBrit recently posted…Toilet Paper Roll Washi Tape HeartsMy Profile

    • Amy

      Written on 13th February 2015

      Reply

      Thanks Steph-I know right..I suppose it’s comforting to other parents going through this and reading that we have forgotten these things so easily. Although it feels dreadful at the time it is soon a distant memory! Separation anxiety is so tough though isn’t it? x

    • Amy

      Written on 13th February 2015

      Reply

      I can imagine, I always think twice about posting things like this and it’s one of the reasons I don’t go telling pregnant ladies my last labour story or they’d be really scared! But we all go through it and hopefully this post will help anyone feeling like it’s never ending as in my experience it usually is just a phase. good luck when you get there-it will pass xx

  • Donna

    Written on 13th February 2015

    Reply

    We had a huge sleep regression at that time and along with teething it made bedtimes hell. He could no longer self settle, would scream when we left the room and would wake often. I am so glad to be out the other side! x
    Donna recently posted…Half Term Activity IdeasMy Profile

  • casey grice

    Written on 15th February 2015

    Reply

    Amy, you touched on just about everything. Great post. I could have used this read a few months back when our youngest was putting us through rough night after rough night. I know many people who are going through it now will get a lift from this post It IS funny how easily we forget what it’s like during this stage of growth even though at the time it seems like something so horrible you could never forget… you are right. always remember it’s just a phase. before you know it, it will pass. Great work!!!

    • Amy

      Written on 15th February 2015

      Reply

      Yes absolutely the message I’m trying to get across, although it seems awful it will totally pass. Thanks so much for popping by Casey :)

    • Amy

      Written on 15th February 2015

      Reply

      Aw it’s so hard Al and things do regress back and forth regularly in the formative years but there is lots of sleep in the future for you, promise! He will settle down eventually :)

  • Cara

    Written on 4th July 2015

    Reply

    Thank you for this post. It helped me through another very difficult day as my 20 month-old is in this exact phase.

    • Amy

      Written on 6th July 2015

      Reply

      I am so glad it helped and can promise you it does get so much easier. Hang in there mama! x

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