20 Month Sleep Regression Tips
As your 20-month-old toddler is en route to their two-year mark, you may hope that days of sleepless nights are soon to be over. However, having a 20-month-old means you’re not quite out of the woods yet. As most toddlers experience the 20-month sleep regression, you may find that this time in your toddler’s life is as much of a challenge as their earlier years.
The 20 month sleep regression may present itself in several forms. From skipping naps to throwing full-blown tantrums at bedtime, dealing with this sleep regression so close to the 2-year mark can be unsettling.
Experts explain that this 20 month sleep regression is a result of behavioral changes. As toddlers are growing rapidly, they subsequently want to test the boundaries and push their limits. At bedtime, toddlers will often resist the routine they’ve been following consistently or drag the routine out for several minutes.
At nap-time, toddlers may start to act angry or silly as they grow overtired. However, they often refuse to fall asleep, which eventually will result in a disrupted bedtime.
To make it through your child’s 20 month sleep regression, use the following guide:
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1. Work with a Routine
At 20 months, your child needs a stable routine more than anything. When developing this sleep routine, make sure it includes comforting activities that will help your child wind down and get ready to sleep.
A successful routine at 20 months can include bath time, putting your toddler in pajamas, reading a story, then singing a lullaby before saying goodnight.
At nap-time, parents should keep the same basic structure without the bath or pajamas. It can be helpful to make the room darker and play white noise to ensure that your toddler is able to fall asleep. Once the routine is defined, be sure to stick to it as this is what will help overcome the 20 month sleep regression.
2. Keep Sleep Training
If your toddler is still in their crib and wakes up at night, give them some time to see if they will settle on their own. Every 5 – 10 minutes, go in to reassure them with a back rub or light touch, making sure to leave them after a few minutes.
If your toddler is in a cot in a separate room, make sure they grow accustomed to staying in their bed and falling asleep alone. For toddlers having trouble falling asleep in a cot on their own, provide them with reassurance by sitting in the same room for a few minutes until they settle down.
3. Pay Attention to Signs of Sleep Regression
Sleep regression at 20 months tends to happen as a result of major shifts in a toddler’s social life. With preschool, playdates, and personal development milestones on the horizon sleep regression is inevitable. With parents vigilant for sleep regression signs, toddlers will have the structure they need to overcome these sleep problems.
Reasons for 20 Month Sleep Regression
Wondering why your toddler is experiencing this 20 month sleep regression? Consider the following most common reasons a 20-month-old may experience this sleep regression:
1. They are overtired.
Toddlers that are overtired aren’t more likely to get a good night’s rest. Ironically, being overtired will be a big disruption to their quality of sleep. Similarly, toddlers that have later bedtimes or refuse their afternoon naps may struggle to sleep properly at night because they are too overly exhausted.
Worried your child’s 20 month sleep regression is a result of over-tiredness? Don’t cut back on nap-time. At this stage in your child’s sleep cycle, it’s important for them to have a solid routine. This includes their daily activities as well as nap-time and bedtime.
If your toddler is refusing to nap, make sure they still get in their downtime. Even if they aren’t asleep at this point, they’ll still have time to relax and recharge, which will help to prevent them from becoming overtired.
2. They are experiencing several changes.
Toddlers handle certain life changes in a variety of ways. For many, the 20 month sleep regression occurs as a result of these changes. Whether there’s a new baby in the house or they’ve begun potty training, these types of milestones can result in poor sleeping habits.
In order to help your toddler better accommodate to these changes, focus on preparing them properly. Be sure to talk to your child about any upcoming changes well in advance. Use games and books to help them get through these changes and understand why certain things will be happening in their life. At this time, it’s also essential to provide your toddler with reassurance and love, letting them know that your caring for them will never change.
3. They’re feeling separation anxiety.
During the 20 month sleep regression, it’s not uncommon for a child to experience separation anxiety. This often occurs if there’s a big life change or if they’ve started having nighttime fears or nightmares.
Not sure how to handle your child’s separation anxiety and help them fall asleep without you? Remember to give them reassurance during bedtime and nap-time. Make a habit of checking in with them as they fall asleep. Whether you stroke their hair or hold their hand to keep them calm down, remember to avoid staying too long. Though your child may have certain fears, it’s important that they are able to soothe themselves.
4. They don’t want to be in their own bed.
If you’ve moved your toddler from a cot to a bed, you may find that they are visiting you more often. Climbing into mom and dad’s bed gives toddlers reassurance at nighttime. However, making a habit of this activity will spell trouble for both the toddler and parents.
As this change is a significant one, parents need to help their children adjust to this shift. Do this by guiding your child back to their bed with very minimal interaction between you and them. When walking your toddler back, reassure them that they will be okay and say something to the effect of, “It’s sleepy time!”, but make sure to leave before they fall asleep.
Repeat these steps every time your child tries to come back into bed with you and they will eventually understand that they need to fall asleep on their own.
5. They feel unsafe.
If your toddler doesn’t want to sleep in their own bed because they feel unsafe or frequently fall out, be sure to invest in a guard for their bed. This will help them feel more comfortable and safe at night, which will help them to adjust to their transition from the cot to their bed.
6. The darkness scares them.
At the 20 month mark, toddlers often begin to experience night fears. With their imagination running wild, they often think about what might go “bump” in the night instead of falling asleep. These fears result in this 20 month sleep regression, leaving parents wondering how to get their toddler back to sleep.
To help combat these nightmares, parents should use a night light. This light is an effective way to comfort them as they can see that there’s nothing lurking in the shadows. If your toddler is still having certain fears, reassure them that they are safe and calm. Avoid bringing them into your bed or staying with them until they fall asleep.
7. They are hungry.
When hunger strikes, your toddler is likely to stay wide awake until this need is met. If your child’s 20 month sleep regression is a result of hunger, make sure your child is eating a well-balanced diet during the daytime that is also supplemented with healthy snacks.
Worried your toddler is still hungry at night? Consider giving them some milk or water during their nighttime routine as this will comfort them and help them feel settled.
20 Month Sleep Schedule
Amidst the 20 month sleep regression, it can be challenging to find stability for your toddler. However, with consistency, you can get back to a predictable sleeping pattern with your toddler.
If you’re the parent of a 20-month-old, your child’s sleep schedule should mirror the following:
- 5:00 a.m.
Wake and Feed Milk
- 6:00 a.m.
- 8:30 a.m.
- 10:30 a.m.
- 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
- 1:00 p.m.
- 2:30 p.m.
- 3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- 4:30 p.m.
- 4:45 p.m.
Milk Feed and Story Time
- 5:00 p.m.
At 20 months, your child’s sleeping habits are becoming more defined. Although this 20 month sleep regression can be challenging, with this guide, you’ll be able to better navigate the ins and out of your child’s updated sleep schedule.