20 Month Sleep Regression – Causes, Signs and What to Do

20 Month Sleep Regression – Causes, Signs and What to Do

Navigating the ebbs and flows of a toddler’s development is a journey many parents embark upon with a mix of anticipation and apprehension. Just as you think you’ve mastered one phase, a new challenge arises. One such curveball thrown in the midst of toddlerhood is the 20-month sleep regression. While many parents have just begun to enjoy the consistent sleep patterns of their toddler, the sudden onset of sleep disruptions can be both surprising and exhausting. In this guide, we’ll delve deep into the causes, signs, and coping strategies related to the 20-month sleep regression, equipping you with the knowledge and tips to weather this temporary storm with confidence and care.

What Is The 20 Month Sleep Regression?

The 20-month sleep regression refers to a period when a toddler, who might have previously been sleeping well, suddenly experiences disruptions in their sleep patterns. These disruptions can manifest as difficulty falling asleep, resisting naps, waking up more frequently during the night, or waking up early in the morning. It’s one of several sleep regressions that can occur in a child’s early years, with each corresponding to different developmental milestones or changes. The 20-month regression, in particular, can be challenging for both the child and the parents, as it often coincides with significant developmental leaps, changes in routine, or the onset of separation anxiety.

What Are the Causes of 20 Month Sleep Regression?

The intricate journey of toddlerhood is marked by numerous developmental milestones. While these milestones represent growth and learning, they can sometimes lead to temporary disruptions, particularly in sleep patterns. The sleep regression in a 20-month-old can leave many parents baffled, especially if their child had previously been a predictable sleeper. By understanding the root causes of this sleep disruption, parents can better empathize with and support their toddlers during this challenging period. Here are the five primary causes:

1. Developmental Milestones

At around 20 months, toddlers experience a surge in cognitive, motor, and linguistic developments. Whether it’s mastering a new word, walking more confidently, or showing heightened curiosity, these growth spurts can lead to more active brains, making settling down harder.

2. 20 Month Separation Anxiety Sleep Regression

Separation anxiety peaks around this age. The realization of being separate entities from their caregivers can create anxiety. The fear of being left alone or the desire to be close to a parent can disrupt sleep, leading to the specific “20 month separation anxiety sleep regression.”

3. Teething

By 20 months, many toddlers are getting their molars, which can be quite painful and lead to restless nights. The discomfort and pain associated with teething can be a significant reason for disrupted sleep.

4. Desire for Independence

As toddlers approach the age of two, they often display a budding sense of independence. This newfound autonomy can manifest in various ways, including wanting to decide when to go to sleep or resisting bedtime routines they previously adhered to.

5. Changes in Daily Routine

Any alteration in a toddler’s environment, such as transitioning from two naps to one, traveling, a change in daycare, or even welcoming a new sibling, can lead to changes in their sleep patterns.

Recognizing these causes can equip parents with the insights they need to provide the necessary comfort and adjustments, ensuring the transition through this sleep regression phase is as smooth as possible.

Signs of 20 Month Old Sleep Regression

As toddlers grow, their sleep patterns can take unexpected turns, especially during the pivotal phase of sleep regression 20 months into their life. For parents who have gotten accustomed to a certain rhythm, these changes can come as a bit of a shock. Recognizing the signs early can help parents navigate this phase more effectively. Here are the five most common signs to look out for during this sleep regression:

1. Frequent Night Wakings

A toddler who previously slept soundly through the night might suddenly begin waking up multiple times. This can be particularly challenging as they might have difficulty settling back down.

2. Resistance to Napping

Despite showing signs of tiredness, your toddler may resist their usual nap times. They might take longer to fall asleep during the day or skip naps entirely.

3. Changes in Sleep Duration

The total amount of sleep your toddler gets in 24 hours may reduce. They could either wake up earlier than usual in the mornings or take longer to fall asleep at night, shortening the overall sleep duration.

4. Increased Irritability

A direct consequence of disrupted sleep is a cranky and irritable demeanor. The lack of rest can affect their mood, leading to more frequent tantrums or mood swings.

5. Difficulty Settling at Bedtime

The bedtime routine that once worked wonders might now be met with resistance. Toddlers going through this regression can take longer to fall asleep, even if they’re visibly tired.

Understanding these signs can be the first step towards addressing and managing the challenges brought about by the sleep regression at 20 months.

How Long Does Sleep Regression at 20 Month Last?

One of the most pressing questions on parents’ minds, when faced with the challenges of a disrupted sleep routine, is how long this phase will last. The sleep regression in a 20-month-old is a temporary phase, but its duration can vary among toddlers.

Typically, this sleep regression can span anywhere from two to six weeks. However, the exact duration depends on various factors such as the child’s overall health, developmental milestones they’re undergoing, and any changes in their environment or routine.

While it may seem like an eternity when you’re in the midst of it, especially with sleep-deprived nights, it’s crucial to remember that this phase is temporary. With understanding, patience, and consistent routines, most toddlers will gradually return to their regular sleeping habits. During this time, it’s essential for parents to provide a supportive and comforting environment to ease the transition and help their child navigate through this developmental phase.

How Can You Manage 20 Month Sleep Regression In Your Baby?

How Can You Manage 20 Month Sleep Regression

Facing sleep regression can be exhausting for both parents and toddlers. Here are some coping strategies.

1. Consistency: Maintain a consistent bedtime routine. This familiar sequence can offer comfort to your child.

2. Comfort Items: A favorite toy or blanket can offer solace, especially if they’re facing separation anxiety.

3. Positive Reinforcement: Praise your toddler when they sleep well to encourage good behavior.

4. Seek Support: Discuss strategies with your paediatrician or consider joining parent support groups.

20 Month Old Baby Sleep And Nap Schedule

Setting a routine can be the key to overcoming sleep challenges.

1. Sample Sleep Schedule:

  • Wake-up: 7 am

  • Morning Nap: 9:30 am – 11 am

  • Afternoon Nap: 2:30 pm – 4 pm

  • Bedtime: 8 pm

2. Nap Schedule

At 20 months, most toddlers benefit from two naps a day. An ideal nap schedule might include a morning nap lasting 1-1.5 hours and an afternoon nap of similar duration.

When to Call A Doctor?

If sleep problems persist beyond six weeks, are causing extreme distress to your toddler, or if you notice other worrisome symptoms, it’s always a good idea to seek the guidance of a paediatrician.


1. Why Is My 20 Month Old Baby Waking At Night?

Several factors can cause night wakings in a 20-month-old, ranging from developmental milestones, teething, changes in routine, to separation anxiety.

2. Is There Any Developmental Jump At 20 Months?

Yes, around 20 months, toddlers often experience significant developmental leaps, especially in language acquisition and motor skills. This can sometimes disrupt sleep patterns.

Sleep regression is a rite of passage in the toddler years. While the “20 month regression” can be challenging, with understanding and a consistent routine, this too shall pass.

The journey of parenting is dotted with myriad challenges, and navigating the waves of the 20-month sleep regression is one such hurdle. While it might seem overwhelming in the midst of sleepless nights and unsettled naps, it’s essential to remember that this phase is temporary. Every child is unique, and so is their sleep pattern. Arm yourself with knowledge, remain patient, and rely on trusted techniques to ride out this phase. With time, your little one will find their way back to restful nights, and so will you. As with every growth phase, the key is persistence, understanding, and a dash of parental love.

Also Read: 20 Months Old Baby Growth and Development

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