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18 Month Sleep Regression

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Cara Dumaplin

18 month sleep regression Mom holding toddler

18 months! Your little one is well into the toddler stage now. This is one of my favorite ages to talk about because your toddler is learning so much about their ability to impact the world. He is figuring out that his actions cause reactions. He has power! Let’s talk about what happens when your little one realizes that power can also be used in combination with sleep. This is sometimes referred to as the 18 month sleep regression. 

What is a sleep regression?

When a baby’s brain is going through huge developmental changes, sleep can be impacted. Here is what I want you to know: Sleep regressions are a sign of developmental progressions.⁣ Your baby’s brain is working hard! 

Can I talk you through my approach to sleep regressions?

What is your toddler learning at 18 months?

He may be starting to run or climb, follow one-step commands, imitate household tasks, and name many familiar objects.⁣

Her desire for independence is increasing, she's developing greater awareness of her ability to make decisions, and she is gaining a new understanding of cause and effect. She is learning that her thoughts and actions influence others. She may begin to think: "Wait, I can choose what I do... Maybe I don't want to sleep."⁣

Check out this video on the 18 month sleep regression:

What can you do?

Remember that toddlers still need sleep! 

Even if he can now choose not to sleep — hold onto that nap. If he refuses to sleep during nap time or takes a short nap, move bedtime earlier. We don’t want an overtired toddler!

Plans for lots of active play.

Most 18-month-olds will need about 5-6 hours of awake time prior to nap time. Create a miniature obstacle course, go for a walk outside, have a dance party, take a bath, or check the mail. It doesn’t have to be fancy, make sure that wake window is active to get that energy out. 

Need a place to start? I’ve created a free resource with strategies to implement today that includes 5 Daytime Tips for Better Nights (and Naps!).

Get a full wake window before bedtime.  

Wake your little one by around 3:00 pm to maintain a 7:00-8:00 pm bedtime.⁣ If nap schedules feel tricky, I’ve got a blog that can help.

Allow some independence! 

Empower her with choices like: which jammies to wear, which books to read, or which parent gets to rock her before bed.⁣ Offer two options and let her choose!  Little ones this age thrive on having some power, so offer it whenever you can. 

Remember: It isn’t a choice to go to bed. We are only offering choices for things that your toddler CAN control.

⁣Stay consistent. 

Your job is to keep those boundaries clear and consistent, while acknowledging your baby’s wants. “I know you want to keep playing, but it is time for bed.” This regression may be tough for several days, but inconsistency can create a long-term struggle. Avoid starting new habits that you don’t want to maintain.⁣

Have a plan. 

If your nights and naps are rough beyond just a few days, I have a class for you! The ABCs of Sleep will give you a step-by-step plan to restful nights and solid naps through ALL regressions.


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