What is the 18 Month Sleep Regression?
The 18 month sleep regression is a phase encountered by many toddlers. It’s characterized by alterations in sleeping habits, with your toddler experiencing difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep. The duration of this sleep regression differs among toddlers. Some toddlers may only face this phase for a few weeks, while others may find it lingering for several months. Every toddler is unique, and some may take longer to acclimate to their shifting sleep patterns.
What Causes the 18 Month Sleep Regression?
Various factors contribute to the 18 month sleep regression. These include your toddler’s cognitive and physical development, changes in their daily routine, and adjustments in their surroundings. For instance, at the age of 18 months, toddlers often start mastering new skills like walking, climbing, and talking. These developmental milestones can increase their overall energy levels, making it challenging for them to settle down and fall asleep. Other contributing factors could include teething, separation anxiety, and changes in nap schedules.
How Does the 18 Month Sleep Regression Manifest?
The 18 month sleep regression can present differently in each toddler, but some common signs include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Frequent night wakings
- Shorter naps or resistance to naps
- Increased clinginess or separation anxiety
- Changes in appetite
- Shifts in mood or behavior
- Alterations in sleep schedules
How to Handle the 18 Month Sleep Regression?
Despite the challenges it presents, there are various strategies parents can employ to help their toddler navigate the 18 month sleep regression, including:
- Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine
- Creating a calm sleep environment
- Being flexible with nap times
- Encouraging independent sleep
Should You Ignore the 18 Month Sleep Regression?
Ignoring sleep regression is not recommended as it can have a significant impact on your toddler’s mood, behavior, and overall well-being. It can also prolong the regression duration and make it more difficult for your toddler to develop healthy sleep habits.
How Long Does the 18 Month Sleep Regression Last?
The length of the 18 month sleep regression varies among toddlers. While some may breeze through this phase in a few weeks, others might experience it for a few months. However, typically, this sleep regression lasts from a few weeks to a couple of months, after which your toddler’s sleep patterns should stabilize. It’s important to remember that patience is key during this phase.
Does the 18 Month Sleep Regression Affect My Toddler’s Development?
Yes, the 18 month sleep regression can potentially impact your toddler’s developmental milestones. Disrupted sleep can affect their mood, behavior, and overall health, which can further impact their ability to learn and develop new skills.
The ‘Cry It Out’ Method
Should You Let Your 18-Month-Old Cry It Out?
Whether to let your 18-month-old cry it out is a personal decision that depends on your parenting style, your child’s temperament, and your child’s overall health. It’s recommended to consult with your pediatrician before initiating this approach.
Understanding the Extinction Method
The extinction method, often known as the “cry it out” method, involves allowing your toddler to cry until they fall asleep without any parental intervention. This method is based on the idea that your toddler will eventually learn to self-soothe and fall asleep independently. The effectiveness and time it takes for this method to work can vary significantly among toddlers.
How Many Nights Does the ‘Cry It Out’ Method Take?
The length of time the ‘cry it out’ method takes to work can vary significantly among toddlers. It may take anywhere from a few nights to a few weeks, depending on the individual child’s temperament and how consistently the method is applied.
Dealing with Night Wakings
How to Get Your 18-Month-Old to Sleep Through the Night
Helping your 18-month-old sleep through the night involves creating a consistent bedtime routine, promoting self-soothing, and maintaining a soothing sleep environment. It may also involve gradually reducing night feedings, especially if they have become a sleep crutch.
Addressing Uncontrollable Night Crying
If your 18-month-old is crying uncontrollably at night, consider possible reasons such as teething, illness, or separation anxiety. It could also be an indicator of a sleep regression. Each of these factors may require different approaches, and it could be beneficial to consult with a pediatrician if the issue persists.
Night Feeding and Your 18-Month-Old
Should an 18-Month-Old Have Milk in the Night?
By 18 months, most toddlers can sleep through the night without needing a milk feed. If your toddler still wakes up for milk, it may be more out of habit or comfort than hunger. It’s generally recommended to gradually wean off night feeds at this age, but you should consult with your pediatrician before making this change.
Why Does My 18-Month-Old Wake for Night Feed?
Your 18-month-old may wake for night feeds due to hunger, habit, or comfort. They may associate feeding with falling asleep, which can make them wake up and seek out a feed when they cycle through lighter stages of sleep. It’s important to teach your toddler how to self-soothe and fall asleep independently to break this association.
How to Stop Night Feeding for Your 18-Month-Old
To stop night feeding for your 18-month-old, you could try gradually reducing the amount of milk you offer at each feed, increasing the time between feeds, or using a soothing bedtime routine that does not involve feeding. Remember to be patient as your toddler adjusts to this new routine and consult with your pediatrician if you have any concerns.
How SleepBaby.org Can Help
Handling an 18 month sleep regression can be a challenging time for parents. Fortunately, SleepBaby.org is here to assist. We provide a wealth of resources and guidance on baby and toddler sleep issues, including the 18 month sleep regression. We understand that each child is unique, and our goal is to help you find the right solution to promote better sleep for your toddler.