How To Get A Handle On Toddler Sleep Regressions

Toddler sleep can be challenging in itself. Layer in a sleep regression and you may not know how to deal with it

As parents you’ve made it through the infant stage of sleep. Been there, done that, bought the sleep deprived t-shirt.  And now, welcome to the world of toddler sleep and all the regressions that can come along with it.

What it is that makes toddler sleep regressions more difficult to navigate through previous ones? You now have an independent little person, who will push boundaries and limits and has a lot more stamina than before. Developmental and physical milestones are the main offenders for toddler sleep regressions. 

There’s so much going on for them and that can challenge their normal sleep patterns. Out of nowhere you may start experiencing early wakings, nap strikes, bedtime battles and night wakings. Add in the possibility of night terrors or fears and potty training to challenge you as well. It can be quite a handful (or two).

So how do you steer your way through your toddler’s sleep regression? Here’s how…

Stay calm

Don’t make any drastic changes and try to ride it out the best you can. Don’t assume your toddler dislikes their crib and needs to move to big bed or assume they no longer need a nap if they start skipping it. A regression can last between 1-3 weeks and usually things fall back into place with some minor adjustments. Often parents think they need to make big changes during this time which can prolong your sleep struggles and make for an even grumpier, tired toddler.

Routine lockdown

New night wakings, early mornings or nap strikes may take you by surprise and throw a wrench in your daily routine, but try your best to stay on your usual schedule and do what you can to get through it.  An earlier bedtime and status-quo schedule for naps is important to keep them on track and allow them to settle back into their familiar routine much quicker.

Evaluate your approach

If staying calm and riding out the regression isn’t working or you’re fairly certain you’ve created some new habits, stop what you’re doing. It may be time to introduce a new set of limits for your independent toddler and possibly sleep train. This is where things can get more challenging with your toddler, however with the right approach and reining back the control, you can get through it.

Be consistent

The number one way to get through any regression is to be as consistent as possible with all of the above. At this age, consistency is so important to our toddlers and they crave it in their day-to-day lives for sleep and other things. Be consistent with your approaches (new or old), routine and schedule and sleep will fall back into their pre-regression days. 

Navigating your way through your toddler’s regression may seem difficult and you may feel there’s no end in sight. They are common and chances are you aren’t the only one experiencing it. With a little patience and persistence you’ll come out of it.

Liane Mamo is certified infant and toddler sleep consultant with Good Night Sleep Site Ottawa and mom to a superhero-obsessed 4 year old. Liane is committed to providing families with emotional and educational support to help their baby or child with their sleep needs. Find Liane at her website or on Facebook and Twitter for sleep tips, articles and more.

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