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October 05, 2021 2 min read

The 18 month sleep regression may end up being one of the most challenging ones you will face.

Why?

Well, now you’re wrestling with a squirming, heavy toddler who is all about their independence and doesn’t WANT your help at sleep time – he wants to be in control himself!

As you know by now, sleep regressions are frequently associated with brain development as well as physical milestones that are occurring in the background.

Other common sleep disturbances may occur due to:

  • Growth spurts and hormones
  • Teething
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Pushing Boundaries

Never fear, we have some hints and tips to help get you through! Some strategies you can use to help wait out this rocky stage of sleep include:

Bedtime Routine: If you haven’t established a firm routine yet, now’s the time to really get this sorted. Even the simplest routine can make a huge difference in your child’s understanding of ‘bed time’ – try starting with bath, teeth, jammies + sleeping bag, book and bed.

Sleep Associations: A sleep association is an action or item that helps your baby to fall asleep. Using an age appropriate sleeping bag or sleep suit is a must at this age, and these can become a very useful sleep association for your little one. Keep its use consistent, and very soon your toddler will realise that sleep suit on = time to wind down and have a rest! It is important to keep sleep associations positive and not negative, so try to avoid ones that will cause you further grief down the track.

Recognising Tired Signs: By now, you probably have a good understanding of your little one’s sleep cues, whether that be eye rubbing, irritability or even more subtle changes in their behaviour. Recognising the best window for their bedtime is very important, as over-tired toddlers make the job that much harder!

Building a Positive Relationship: Your toddler needs to feel safe and secure at bedtime, and that means building on the relationship you already have. Make sure you involve them in their bedtime routine, give them jobs to help the process go smoothly, and always reassure them that you are there for them, to minimise the budding separation anxiety that starts to emerge at this age.

The 18 month sleep regression is just another bump in the road, and is usually only temporary, just as the others before it.

If you’re struggling during these periods of rocky sleep, always remember to reach out and speak up – you are not alone, and loads of other parents are in the same boat as you. If nobody has told you this lately… you are doing an amazing job!

You can read other articles in the sleep regression series here:

Sleep Regression in Babies
The 4 Month Sleep Regression
The 6 Month Sleep Regression
The 8 Month Sleep Regression
The 12 Month Sleep Regression


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