22 Month Sleep Regression Tips
Sleep regression is a period when your baby’s sleep pattern changes. The change is typically sudden and may involve dropping naps, becoming difficult to put to bed, a return to overnight awakenings or waking early in the morning. To go along with the drop in sleep will be accompanying crankiness. The 22 month sleep regression can be particularly challenging because you have probably become accustomed to your baby sleeping through the night.
Sleep regression does not mean your baby needs less sleep. He needs sleep, and he not getting it. There are a variety of things that can trigger 22 month sleep regression. They include:
- Separation anxiety, which may be peaking around this age.
- Pain associated with teething.
- A growing feeling of independence.
Sleep regression often coincides with a period where your baby is progressing in other areas. For instance, as he develops more advanced physical skills, your baby may find it more difficult to sleep. The good news is that sleep regression is generally temporary. The key is to soldier through the two to six week period the regression typically last without your child picking up bad habits that will create sleep issues in the long-term.
There are several 22 month sleep regression tips that can make getting through this trying time a little easier.
1. Set Boundaries
Chances are you have dealt with at least one sleep regression in the past. You may find the 22 month sleep regression easier to navigate than one that happens at a younger age. You know they are temporary, and your child has better skills to deal with the situation.
The improved level of communication possible with an older baby works to your benefit when experiencing a 22 month sleep regression. During a sleep regression, your baby has trouble falling or staying asleep, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need the sleep. Set him up for success by having a strong routine you use for both naps and bedtime.
Talk to your baby during the routine about the importance of staying in bed. Reassure him that you will be in to get him after his nap or in the morning. These words may not seem to have much of an effect on him, but with patience and consistency, they will help. Babies this age love routine, and you telling him exactly what to expect comforts him and gives him something to look forward to.
If you haven’t done so yet, this is also a great time to introduce storybooks that discuss bedtime and the importance of sleep. Your 22 month old will love the addition of a new book to his routine and enjoy hearing the story every day.
2. Be Consistent
An important way of dealing with 22 month sleep regressions is through consistency. If you allow your baby to skip one naptime or to crawl into your bed one time overnight, you can expect a daily struggle. Some days your baby may not nap. You may spend the entire naptime in his room, rubbing his back, encouraging him to go to sleep and occasionally picking him up to calm him down. You may make endless trips down the hall during the night so you can return him to his room. This consistency will pay off when the 22 month sleep regression passes and he is once again content to sleep in his own bed.
3. Focus on Calming Routines
It is important that your baby’s sleep regression does not become a battle. Encourage your baby to nap and sleep, but don’t become emotionally involved. Your baby will easily pick up on any anger and tension, which will make the situation more stressful for everyone.
Keep the nap and bedtime routine as calm as possible. If there are parts of the routine that get your child overstimulated you may want to switch things up a bit. You don’t want to give up activities that you both love, but if, for example, the sing-along song with motions gets your baby bouncing, move it back to the first step of the routine. Let it set the stage for activities that wind down toward sleep afterward.
4. Avoid Forming Crutches
It can be tempting to revert to behaviors that you know will get your baby to sleep, such as letting him take his bottle to bed or rocking him to sleep before you put him in the crib. While these may provide short-term relief, they only create more problems later on.
The 22 month sleep regression is a normal developmental phase. These tips are meant to help you and your baby get through this period as easily as possible, but there is no way to avoid it entirely. If you use tactics such as allowing your baby to nurse himself to sleep you are creating a new habit. As you know, babies this age love habits and routines. He will not understand you are only using nursing as a temporary measure. He will expect to continue to nurse long after the period of time when the sleep regression would have passed.
5. Keep Your Cool
Remember that your baby is not staying awake to make your life harder. He doesn’t enjoy these periods of regressions any more than you. It is not always easy to get through the day (and night) with patience even when you are well-rested. When you are running short on sleep it is even more challenging. Give yourself permission to leave your baby in his crib and cry for a few minutes if you need to go into another room and take a break.
Trying to calm your baby when you are exhausted and frustrated will not help either one of you. Even if you never allow your baby to “cry it out” you shouldn’t hesitate to take a few minutes, or as long as necessary, when you need to. Your baby knows that you love him and that he is not being abandoned. Also, his communication and understanding are better at this age than when he was younger. Stick your head in the doorway and tell him you will be right back, then go to the restroom and shut the door. Splash some cool water on your face and take a few deep breathes and tell yourself that this is a temporary phase.
Sleep issues are a challenge regardless of the age of your child. The 22 month sleep regression can have some specific challenges. You are probably accustomed to getting a decent night’s sleep, so your baby’s sudden wakefulness can seem like a bad dream. By the time your baby is 22 months old, you may be expecting another child, with the added fatigue that comes along with a pregnancy.
While 22 month sleep regressions can be challenging, they can be easier than sleep regressions at younger ages. At this age, your baby has some communication and reasoning skills that can make it easier to weather the sleep regression. His communication skills, combined with the fact that you have more experience as a parent, means you will be more confident that you are experiencing a 22 month sleep regression, rather than an illness or another issue.
Finally, by the time the 22 month sleep regression arrives, you have been parenting this baby for nearly two years. Long gone are the days where every day brought a new set of issues. You have undoubtedly experienced some surprises as a parent and both you and your baby are fine, so you can relax and trust that you both will make it through this rough patch.