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18 Month Sleep Regression: What to Do

18 Month Sleep Regression

18 Month Sleep Regression

As if parents do not have enough already enduring the chaotic 3-month sleep regression and the dreaded 6 and 9-month sleep regressions, there’s even an 18 month sleep regression to endure when raising a growing toddler. Every child is different and sleep regressions could last longer or shorter depending on the child’s personal development stage.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The basics of 18 month sleep regression
  • 5 tips to help you cope with it as a parent
  • Tip 1: Limit how much your toddler watches television.
  • Tip 2: Keep a consistent bedtime routine so little one knows what to expect.
  • Tip 3: Continue sleep training as needed.
  • Tip 4: Don’t forget to have your child take his/her daily nap.
  • Tip 5: Don’t give up!
  • The key takeaway is staying confident in your parenting style.

What is the 18 month sleep regression?

The 18 month sleep regression is when a toddler is around 17-18 months of age and experiences a stage of sleeplessness and/or trouble sleeping through the night when usually he or she may have already been successfully doing so the last few months. This stage of sleep regression can last anywhere from as little as 2 weeks to as long as 6 weeks.

Reasons for the 18 month sleep regression include:

  • The toddler’s newfound independence
  • Learning how to walk
  • Spoon feeding their self
  • Engaging in dramatic play
  • All of these new developments incur a strong will to keep on the move with less desire to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Characteristics of the 18 month sleep regression include:

  • Inability to stay asleep through the night
  • Toddler may refuse to nap during the day or sleep during the night
  • Many instances of waking through the night.
  • More temper tantrums possible due to crankiness caused via lack of sleep

The 18 month sleep regression can be stressful not only for the toddler experiencing it first hand, but also the parent that is working with his or her son or daughter to help them through this troubling time in life. Read the 5 tips below for more information on how you can help your child through the 18 month sleep regression today!

Tip 1: Limit television time.

While even the educational programs with adult involvement during the experience help a toddler to learn and grow, limiting television time is paramount to helping tame the beast of the 18 month sleep regression. Since television is linked to more nighttime wakings for youth at this age, it is very important to keep screen time to a minimum. Do the following to keep your little tyke on a limited, yet productive screen time schedule.

  • Do not let your toddler have screen time within the two hours before his or her bedtime.
  • Have television programs on during a small window of playtime that takes place at home.
  • When the television time is on, keep it to educational programs and engage with your child during the program so he or she learns something valuable from it.
  • Have screen time in 30 to 45-minute intervals at a time.
  • Do not encourage screen time during meals. Meals should be spent eating prepared food and talking to your child face-to-face.

Encouraging other hands-on activities to facilitate fun and learning reduces a child’s desire for screen time.

Tip 2: Keep a consistent bedtime routine.

If you are the type of person that finds it difficult to keep a routine, now is the time to train yourself as a parent to do so for your child. A consistent bedtime routine will quickly squash the 18 month sleep regression and encourage restfulness for your child. You can treat the symptoms of the 18 month sleep regression through a consistent bedtime routine by:

  • If your toddler’s bedtime is at 8 pm, start doing all bedtime tasks at 7 pm
  • Give your child a nightly bath to help warm and soothe their body to sleep once he or she lays down in bed.
  • Finish dinner time by about a half-hour before his or her bedtime routine starts.
  • Read your child stories and/or sing songs of your choice to let your little one know it is time for bed.
  • Keep the room dark to encourage sleep faster.
  • Play white noise as necessary to help your child fall asleep.

A dark sleeping environment is important to help your child recognize the difference between day and night in that day is for play and night time is for rest.

Tip 3: Continue sleep training.

While sleep training could be extra challenging during the 18 month sleep regression, continue to do it so little one can get used to sleeping independently. Ways to encourage sleep training include:

  • Wait longer to comfort your crying child to encourage self-soothing. Add one minute to the time period before you step in to console him or her.
  • Give the child a pacifier as needed to help with self-soothing.
  • If you are still breastfeeding, do not breastfeed your child until he or she is fully asleep.
  • Continue to keep the sleeping environment dark even if your child awakens at night.

Sleep training can be difficult, but the consistency of showing your child your expectations is key!

Tip 4: Keep a consistent nap schedule.

It may be tempting to want to drop your toddler’s nap during the 18 month sleep regression period. However, this is not recommended. Nap times help toddlers to regenerate energy and have their brains and bodies grow healthily as they develop into young children. Toddlers usually do not drop their naps until they are 3 or 4 years old, so keep a consistent nap time schedule by:

  • Have lunchtime about a half-hour before the nap time routine starts. For example, if your toddler’s nap time is at noon, have lunchtime at 11 am and begin the nap time routine at 11:30 am.
  • Tell your child to lay in bed and tell him or her calmly that it is nap time.
  • If met with resistance, have your tyke look forward to something after nap time. For example, you may do a fun craft together or watch a new educational program.
  • Pat your child’s back and sing a soothing song as needed to help him or her fall asleep.

Tip 5: Don’t give up!

The 18 month sleep regression is not friendly for either the toddler directly affected by it or the parent that is trying to help the toddler through it. Remember to not give up during this process. Your child needs for you to be strong and firm to help him or her get through this critical time of their development. Remember to:

  • Give time for yourself after putting your child to sleep to do what you want or need to do.
  • Remind yourself that you are not the only parent going through the 18 month sleep regression.
  • Seek help when you need it whether from another family member or a sleep consultant.
  • Find your favorite way to de-stress before and after getting your toddler to sleep at night.


You’ve got this, Mom and Dad! We hope you have enjoyed these 5 tips on helping you and your child to cope with this next stage of sleep regression. Confidence in your parenting style is the key to helping your child get over this sleep regression obstacle and grow into self-sufficient sleeping children.

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