16 Month Sleep Regression - Causes, Signs and Tips To Manage

16 Month Sleep Regression – Causes, Signs and Tips To Manage

As new parents, you might believe that once your child crosses the infant stage, sleepless nights are behind you. But, 16-month-old’s often surprise with a phenomenon known as the ’16 month old sleep regression.’ Delve into the reasons behind this disruption, its signs, and how to navigate through this challenging phase.

What Is The 16 Month Sleep Regression?

Every parent eagerly awaits the day their child begins to sleep through the night consistently, savoring the uninterrupted hours of rest. However, just when it seems like the baby is settling into a predictable sleep routine, many parents encounter unexpected sleep disruptions. Known as the “16 month sleep regression,” this phase can come as a surprise, leaving parents both puzzled and exhausted. This phenomenon refers to a sudden change in a 16-month-old’s sleep patterns, where a child who was previously sleeping soundly might start facing challenges during nap-time or nighttime rest. Let’s delve deeper into understanding this particular sleep hurdle and how it manifests in toddlers.

What Are the Causes of 16 Month Old Sleep Regression?

The journey of parenting is marked by various milestones, some more challenging than others. Among these, the “16 month regression” can be particularly trying for parents who were just getting used to a stable sleep routine. This phase, marked by sleep disruptions, often leaves parents puzzled about its sudden onset. To better navigate through this period, it’s essential to understand its underlying causes. Here are seven key reasons that contribute to the 16 month old sleep regression:

1. Developmental Milestones

As toddlers approach the 16-month mark, they experience a surge in physical and cognitive milestones. Whether it’s starting to speak more words or mastering new motor skills, these changes can affect their sleep patterns.

2. Separation Anxiety

Around this age, toddlers develop a heightened awareness of their surroundings and can become more attached to primary caregivers. This can make bedtime challenging, as they might resist sleeping alone.

3. Teething

The emergence of molars can be particularly painful for some toddlers, causing discomfort that interrupts their sleep.

4. “Nap Regression”

This is a significant culprit. As toddlers grow, their nap needs can change. They might resist their second nap or might not feel as sleepy during the day, which can subsequently impact nighttime sleep.

5. Changes in Routine

Toddlers thrive on routine. Even a minor change, like a different mealtime or a missed play session, can throw off their internal clock, leading to sleep disruptions.

6. Nightmares or Night Terrors

With a growing imagination, 16-month-olds can start having vivid dreams. Sometimes, these dreams might be scary, causing them to wake up frightened.

7. Environmental Factors

Factors like room temperature, noise, or even transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed can play a role in sleep disruptions.

Acknowledging and understanding these causes of the 16 month regression, especially factors like “nap regression,” can equip parents with the knowledge to better handle and possibly even prevent some of these sleep challenges.

Signs of Sleep Regression at 16 Months

The 16-month mark in a child’s life brings a plethora of developmental milestones. However, with these growth spurts sometimes comes the challenge of the “16 month old sleep regression.” This phase can take parents by surprise, especially if their toddler had previously been a good sleeper. Identifying the signs of this sleep regression is the first step towards managing it effectively. Here are the four primary signs indicating your child might be experiencing this particular sleep disruption:

1. Increased Night Wakings

If your previously sound-sleeping toddler suddenly starts waking up multiple times throughout the night, it can be a clear indication of the 16 month old sleep regression. These awakenings can be brief or prolonged, with the child finding it hard to settle back down.

2. Resistance to Bedtime

Despite showing signs of tiredness, your toddler might resist going to bed. This can manifest as increased clinginess, crying, or outright tantrums during what used to be a calm bedtime routine.

3. Changes in Nap Patterns

Your 16-month-old may start skipping their naps, take shorter naps, or have difficulty settling down for their regular daytime snooze. This disruption in daytime sleep can further impact nighttime rest.

4. Mood Shifts and Irritability

A direct consequence of disrupted sleep is mood swings. If your usually cheerful toddler becomes cranky, irritable, or has more frequent meltdowns, it might be tied to the sleep regression they’re experiencing.

Recognizing these signs can help parents and caregivers strategize and address the sleep challenges head-on, ensuring both the child and parents get the rest they need.

How Long Does 16 Month Sleep Regression Last?

Typically, this sleep regression phase lasts for 2 to 6 weeks. However, the duration can vary for each child and depends largely on how parents handle and respond to the changes.

How Can You Manage 16 Month Sleep Regression In Your Baby?

How Can You Manage 16 Month Sleep Regression

Every parent dreams of nights filled with uninterrupted sleep, but the 16 month sleep regression can shatter this dream momentarily. Just as you think you’ve got bedtime down to a science, your toddler starts to resist naps or wakes frequently during the night. While this phase can be frustrating, understanding and addressing the root causes can provide relief. Here are seven suggestions to help manage this regression, including insights on the “16 month sleep regression cry it out” method:

1. Consistent Bedtime Routine

Children thrive on predictability. Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine, from bath time to story-time, can signal to your toddler that it’s time to wind down and sleep.

2. Create a Comforting Environment

Ensure the sleep environment is calm, dark, and cool. Soft lullabies or white noise machines can also help soothe your child back to sleep.

3. Address Teething Issues

If teething seems to be a significant culprit, consider using cold teething toys or consulting your paediatrician for safe pain relief methods.

4. Stay Calm and Patient

If your toddler wakes up, keep your interactions minimal. This is not the time for play. A simple pat or soothing word can sometimes be all that’s needed.

5. Limit Nap Duration

If your child is napping too long during the day, consider shortening nap duration slightly to ensure they’re tired by bedtime.

6. Consider the “Cry It Out” Method

The 16 month sleep regression cry it out technique involves letting your toddler cry for specified periods before offering comfort. It’s essential to research and understand this method fully and decide if it aligns with your parenting style.

7. Seek Professional Guidance

If sleep disruptions persist or you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a child sleep consultant or paediatrician.

Remember, this phase, though challenging, is temporary. With the right strategies, you can navigate the sleep regression and ensure restful nights for both you and your toddler.

How You Can Tackle Sleep Training During 16 Month Sleep Regression?

Introducing gentle sleep training techniques can be beneficial. However, it’s essential to be patient, consistent, and flexible in your approach, understanding that this is a temporary phase.

Points To Remember About 16 Month Sleep Regression

Sleep regression in 16 month old children can be a trying time for parents. Keeping the following points in mind can ease the process:

  • Every child is different; what works for one might not work for another.
  • This phase is temporary and will pass.
  • Prioritize your own well-being and rest whenever possible.
  • Open communication with partners or caregivers can offer additional support.

When to Call A Doctor?

If your child’s sleep problems persist beyond six weeks or if there are other accompanying health concerns, it’s wise to consult a paediatrician.


1. Can Teething In a Baby Play A Role In The 16 Month Sleep Regression?

Yes, teething, especially the emergence of molars, can be painful and lead to sleep disturbances during this period.

2. How Much Should My 16 Month Old Sleep In Day And Night?

A 16-month-old typically requires 11-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, which includes nighttime sleep and one to two daytime naps.

Navigating the 16-month sleep regression can be a challenging experience for parents and caregivers. While the sudden shift in sleep patterns can be daunting, understanding its causes, recognizing its signs, and employing effective management techniques can make a significant difference. Remember, every child’s sleep journey is unique, and what’s paramount is providing them with love, comfort, and understanding during these restless nights. With patience and consistency, both you and your toddler will soon find your way back to peaceful slumbers.

Also Read: Your 16 Months Old Baby Growth and Development

Previous article «
Next article »