18 Month Sleep Regression- Causes, Signs and What to Do

18 Month Sleep Regression- Causes, Signs and What to Do

Sleep patterns evolve and shift as your child grows, and sometimes these shifts aren’t as seamless as we’d hope. The 18-month mark is one such pivotal point for many parents. The infamous 18 month sleep regression can be a challenging phase, but understanding its causes and signs can arm you with the necessary information to navigate it with confidence.

What Is The 18 Month Sleep Regression?

The 18 month sleep regression is a period where toddlers, who once slept soundly, start having trouble with their usual sleep routine. It’s characterized by frequent night wakings, difficulty falling asleep, and shorter naps during the day. This phase can be exhausting for both parents and the child but is a common developmental stage.

What Are the Causes of 18 Month Old Sleep Regression?

Sleep regressions at any age can be baffling, but they don’t emerge from nowhere. There are often tangible reasons behind the 18-month regression.

1. Separation Anxiety

At around 18 months, many toddlers begin to understand the concept of permanence, making them more prone to separation anxiety. They might resist bedtime because they don’t want to be away from you.

2. Teething

The eruption of molars can be painful for toddlers. This discomfort can make it difficult for them to settle down and sleep.

3. Increased Motor Skills

As your toddler becomes more mobile, they may find it hard to settle down, wanting instead to practice their newfound abilities.

4. Language Development

With the rapid expansion of vocabulary and understanding, their brains are buzzing, making it hard to switch off.

5. Nightmares and Night Terrors

Around this age, toddlers start having more vivid dreams which can sometimes be scary.

6. Independence and Will

Toddlers begin asserting their independence around 18 months. They might resist bedtime simply because they can.

7. 18 Month Nap Regression

With the development spurt, your toddler might resist daytime naps, leading to overtiredness and restless nights.

8. Changes in Sleep Cycle

As toddlers grow, their sleep cycles evolve. This could mean they are more easily awakened during light sleep stages.

Signs of Sleep Regression at 18 Month

Every child’s developmental journey is unique, but some markers can help parents identify phases like sleep regressions. The 18-month sleep regression is no exception. This phase, while challenging, is a natural part of a child’s growth. Recognizing the signs early on can empower parents to approach the situation with understanding and proactive strategies. Let’s delve into the top five signs that indicate your toddler might be navigating the tricky waters of the 18-month sleep regression.

1. Resistance to Bedtime

Previously, your toddler might have drifted off to sleep without much fuss. However, during this regression, they might protest, cry, or even throw tantrums when it’s time to hit the bed.

2. Increased Night Wakings

Suddenly, your once peacefully sleeping toddler might start waking up multiple times throughout the night, seeking comfort, a drink, or simply refusing to return to sleep.

3. 18 Month Sleep Regression Early Waking

One of the hallmark signs of this phase is early waking. Despite going to bed at their usual time, your toddler might start to wake up earlier in the morning, often much earlier than you’d like.

4. Difficulty Napping

Your toddler might resist their usual nap times, take shorter naps, or in some cases, skip them altogether. This can further contribute to their sleep deficit and make nighttime sleep more challenging.

5. Changes in Sleep Duration

Even if they do sleep, the overall duration might be shorter. They may appear restless, tossing and turning more than usual, or have difficulty settling into a deep sleep.

Understanding these signs can help parents approach the regression with empathy and effective strategies, ensuring a smoother transition for both the child and the caregiver.

How Long Does 18 Month Sleep Regression Last?

The 18-month sleep regression is a phase that many parents and caregivers dread, but it’s essential to remember that it is, indeed, just a phase. Typically, the 18-month sleep regression lasts anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. However, the exact duration can vary from one child to another. Factors influencing the length of this regression include the child’s overall health, their day-to-day environment, and how parents or caregivers respond to the changes in sleep behavior.

It’s essential to maintain consistent bedtime routines and provide a supportive environment during this period, as these measures can help shorten the regression’s duration. But, even if you feel like you’re doing everything “right,” it can still persist for some time due to the natural developmental changes occurring in your toddler’s brain and body.

Patience, understanding, and flexibility are crucial during this time. If the regression continues for longer than six weeks or is accompanied by other concerns, it may be a good idea to consult with a pediatrician to rule out any underlying issues.

How Can You Manage Sleep Regression in 18 Month Old Baby?

Sleep regressions are one of those unpredictable challenges that come with the roller-coaster of parenting. The 18-month sleep regression, in particular, can be a trying time, but with the right strategies, you can guide your toddler back to sound sleep. These practical suggestions are designed to help parents navigate this phase effectively, ensuring that both baby and parent get the rest they need.

1. Maintain a Consistent Bedtime Routine

A regular bedtime routine can be a soothing signal for your toddler, letting them know it’s time to wind down. This could include reading a story, a warm bath, or playing some soft music.

2. Foster Independence

Encourage independent play during the day. This not only boosts their confidence but can also make separations at bedtime easier.

3. Provide a Comforting Sleep Environment

Ensure the sleeping environment is calm, dark, and comfortable. Using white noise machines or soft lullabies can help drown out any disturbances.

4. 18 Month Old Sleep Regression Cry it Out Method

Some parents find success using the ‘cry it out’ method. It involves letting your toddler cry for specified periods before comforting them. This method can be effective but must be approached with caution, ensuring that all the toddler’s basic needs are addressed first.

5. Limit Stimulants Before Bed

Avoid screen time and engaging in highly stimulating activities right before bed. Instead, opt for calming activities that prepare your child for rest.

6. Stay Calm and Patient

Remember, your toddler picks up on your emotions. If you remain calm and understanding, it can help soothe their own anxieties.

7. Offer Reassurance

If separation anxiety is the root cause, frequently reassure your toddler that you’re there for them, even if it’s just through verbal reassurances from another room.

8. Seek Support

Don’t hesitate to lean on your support network. Sometimes, discussing with other parents or seeking advice from a pediatric sleep consultant can offer new perspectives and solutions.

When to Call A Doctor?

If sleep regression persists beyond 6 weeks, is accompanied by other health concerns, or if your toddler seems unwell, it’s time to consult a pediatrician.


1. Do All Babies Have Sleep Regression At 18 Month?

Not all babies experience noticeable sleep regressions, but many do face disruptions in their sleep patterns around this age.

2. Can I Sleep Train My Baby During 18 Month Regression?

Yes, sleep training can be implemented, but it’s vital to choose a method you’re comfortable with and stay consistent.

3. How Much Should 18 Month Old Sleep?

Typically, an 18-month-old should get about 11-14 hours of sleep in 24 hours, including nighttime sleep and one or two daytime naps.

The 18 month sleep regression can certainly challenge even the most resilient parents. While it’s a normal part of a toddler’s developmental journey, it doesn’t make the sleepless nights or the early morning wake-ups any easier. By understanding its causes, recognizing the signs, and equipping ourselves with effective management strategies, we can better support our toddlers and ourselves through this temporary phase. Remember, every child is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. Always trust your instincts, maintain consistency, and know that with patience and support, this too shall pass. As with many parenting hurdles, this period is just a fleeting phase in the incredible journey of watching your child grow and evolve.

Also Read:

22 Ways to Get a Child to Sleep at Night
Is Your Child Ready to Give-Up Napping?
10 Effective Tips to Make Your Toddler Sleep Fast

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