16 Month Sleep Regression Tips
With a few sleep regression already down, 16 months brings a new change to your baby’s sleeping schedule. While many parents hope that their child’s sleeping habits become predictable at this stage, the 16 month sleep regression can throw them for a loop.
Babies are still in the process of developing their sleep habits at 16 months. During this time, it’s important for parents to help their child form healthy routines.
The older a child gets, however, the harder it will be to make some changes. For example, parents that have inadvertently trained their children to have bottles at bedtime may find it difficult to sleep without access to a drink at night, though no bottle is the best.
To survive this 16 month sleep regression, keep the following suggestions in mind:
1. Use a Sticker Chart
Sticker charts help parents improve cooperation with nap-time and bedtime. At 16 months, most toddlers love stickers, so parents can use them as incentives to help their children cooperate during nap time and bedtime.
Create your own sticker chart by using colored paper and writing your child’s name and the words “Sleep Chart” on the paper. Your child will be able to win stickers for good behavior with naps and bedtime. With a certain amount of stickers, your toddler will win a prize of their choice. Depending on your child’s favorite items, this prize can be a special snack, toy, or extra playtime.
With consistency, you’ll be able to get this sticker chart to work effectively, which will have lasting results on your child’s sleeping.
2. Strengthen Your Child’s Bedtime
Don’t forget consistency when dealing with this 16 month sleep regression. Toddlers need a stable bedtime routine that is very consistent.
The best bedtime routines for a 16-month-old are very definitive. For example, a successful bedtime routine can include a bath, a song, and a good night phrase. Repeating this routine exactly the same every night will give your child the structure they need to overcome this 16 month sleep regression and accommodate any changes to their sleep schedule.
3. Use a Lovey
A lovey or comfort object is something that will help your toddler feel more comforted when going to bed. With this object present, they feel less in need of their parent’s attention. This comfort object or transitional object essentially help a toddler learn how to comfort themselves.
Not sure what type of lovey is best to solve this 16 month sleep regression? Experts suggest the best comfort objects include throw pillows, pacifiers, board books, toothbrushes, puzzle pieces, washcloths, and spoons. Whatever object you choose, take care that the item is large enough that it won’t become a hazard for your child.
4. Encourage More Napping
Naps are another important way to deal with the 16 month sleep regression. At this time in their child’s sleep schedule, parents must be prepared to give their toddler extra time to nap.
As part of this 16 month sleep regression involves the child fighting sleep, parents must be ready to adjust the child’s schedule to compensate for this missed sleep. While it’s important to stick to a routine, extra nap-time may be necessary to prevent the baby from becoming overtired.
When letting your toddler nap, make sure they fall asleep before 6 p.m. Otherwise, your child likely won’t be tired enough to go to sleep for bedtime, which will further compound their 16 month sleep regression.
5. Offer Bedtime Snacks
While parents need to curb nighttime feedings, toddlers may experience a growth spurt around the time of the 16 month sleep regression. Offering their toddler protein-filled snacks can stave off midnight hunger.
Parents should use their discretion when offering bedtime snacks as they don’t want to make this part of the nighttime routine.
6. Use a Nightlight
It isn’t uncommon for toddlers of 16 months to experience nighttime fears. If you notice your child is afraid to be alone or scared of the dark, bringing in a nightlight can help to give them some reassurance. For some toddlers, this nightlight can help with sleep regression as well.
7. Reason with Your Toddler
Toddlers are at the age that they often start asking why. If you notice your child is fighting sleep or they are demanding to know why they have to go to bed, consider reasoning with them.
While your 16-month-old can’t hold a full conversation, offer them a simple explanation. Though they may not quite understand, taking the time to reason with them will make them feel better about the fact that they have to go to bed.
8. Move Forward with Sleep Training
During this period in a 16-month-old sleep schedule, parents may find themselves tempted to go back to old habits. Parents that are at their wit’s end may feel as though it’s more effective to try old routines, but this won’t help a growing toddler.
To avoid creating new bad habits or reverting to old ones, experts suggest that parents use comforting techniques for just a few minutes at a time. For example, if your 16-month-old cries when they are put down, try holding them for a few minutes or laying down next to them in the room, but leaving before they fall asleep. These brief interactions will provide your toddler with comfort without reinforcing unhealthy habits.
9. Reinforce Boundaries
Boundaries are just as important as stable schedules when sleep training a 16-month-old. Parents must create “will not” and “will” boundaries at this time.
For example, toddlers that aren’t allowed to go into their parents’ bed must make sure to reinforce this rule. While facing the 16 month sleep regression may make a parent want to go back on this decision, it’s essential to stay strong so a toddler can understand the importance of boundaries. This consistency isn’t always easy to maintain, but it’s a must to help your child develop better sleeping habits.
10. Retrain Sleep Habits if Necessary
One of the most frustrating things about the 16 month sleep regression is that it has the power to undo all the hard work of sleep training. If you’ve spent days and nights up until this point working to create a stable sleeping schedule for your toddler, it can be incredibly disappointing that you have to struggle with sleeping issues again.
However, this is part of their developmental process. Be prepared to begin basic sleep training again at this point. Even if the sleep regression introduced new sleeping problems, going into sleep training the second time around will be a much easier experience.
What to Expect at 16 Months
At 16 months, parents should expect to see some distinct changes in their child’s sleeping patterns. In addition to the sleep regression, a toddler’s natural growth and development will affect how they sleep.
Watch out for the following sleeping milestones:
A Shift in Sleep Duration
It’s common for toddlers to experience a shift in sleep duration at this age. Around this time, they will typically need 11- 14 hours of sleep a day,
Parents that believe their toddler is sleeping too much should work with a health care provider to ensure they are on track. Similarly, be sure to talk to a professional if your child is overactive and not getting the quality of rest that they need.
Waking at Night
Dealing with a toddler wakes frequently at night? You’ll need to look into how they get to bed at night.
Parents that are able to help their baby sleep independently will help them get to sleep easily after they wake at night. To ensure your toddler is able to get back to sleep on their own, parents need to make sure their toddler is able to fall asleep and wake up alone, as this will teach them to self soothe.
Another important way to handle night wakings is to make sure your toddler’s environment at bedtime is the same as it is overnight. For example, if your toddler falls asleep with a blanket at night, it’s best that they have access to this comfort object overnight.
New Napping Habits
Around 16-months-old, toddlers need to move towards one nap a day. This transition from 2 – 1 a day will take some getting used to, but is part of their new sleep schedule.
To guarantee your toddler is well rested, this one nap a day should last between 2 – 3 hours.
16 Month Sleep Schedule
At 16 months, toddlers may follow a sleeping schedule similar to the one below:
- 5:00 a.m.
Wake and Feed with Milk
- 6:00 a.m.
- 8:00 a.m.
- 9:30 a.m.
- 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
- 1:00 p.m.
- 2:30 p.m.
- 3:30 p.m.
- 4:15 p.m.
- 4:45 p.m.
Book and Bottle
- 5:00 p.m.
Toddlers experience a flurry of changes at this stage in their life. As sleep regression is a common issue for 16-month-olds, parents should be sure to keep this information in mind to help their children develop healthy sleeping habits.