Sleep helps our children grow, develop, and become little humans. When a child is growing, they go through different stages of sleep patterns. There are certain roadblocks, often called sleep regressions, that may mark a distinct difference in how they are adapting to sleeping. It is completely normal but happens when their body is changing rapidly. What it consists of is usually a problem going to bed or waking up during the night. It is sometimes challenging to deal with but is short-lived. Today we chat with certified baby/toddler sleep consultant Chantal Murphy who just launched an incredible Baby Sleep Magic App on what a sleep regression may mean for your toddler.
What Happens to a Child’s Sleep at 18 Months?
At around 18 months, toddlers are beginning to talk and walk. These are huge milestones in their growing up and their development. What helps them achieve this? It’s sleep. When you compare toddlers to infants, they definitely sleep more through the night. According to Baby Sleep Magic app, this is the third biggest and one of the last developmental milestones that your baby will go through after the eight to ten-month regression. And with the 18-month sleep regression experience, some developmental milestones can, unfortunately, impact their sleep.
What Causes the Regression?
According to Chantal Murphy of Baby Sleep Magic App, “regressions have a lot to do with your toddler’s new-found independence, at this stage, they have generally learnt the word “NO” and are not afraid to use it. Along with separation anxiety can also come into play here meaning your toddler may genuinely be distressed when you walk out the room at nap time or bedtime.”
“Teething is still a factor at 18 months of age and some toddlers are often cutting molars during this time.”
Increased resistance to going to bed or fussiness at bedtime
More agitation or tantrums
Fighting going to sleep
A child cannot relax and fall asleep once in bed
More naps during the day
less interested in food, which leads to hunger at night time
An increase in crying and crankiness during the day
A higher number of nighttime awakenings or early (AM) wake times
How to Deal With the 18-Month Sleep Regression
There a few ways to deal with the 18-month sleep regression. First, finding a way to sense what your child is dealing with is important. Repeating the same age-appropriate routine and setting a sleep schedule with no electronic devices (a new thing we have to deal with as parents), making sure your child is comfortable and saying good night (this helps with separation anxiety) work wonders. Another thing Chantal mentions to do is:
Incorporate wind-down times in a quiet room before naps. Read a book, sing a song or offer cuddle time.
Keeping bedtime routine simple and no longer than 30-45 minutes. A warm bath, a massage, a full feed and then place your child in the cot awake
Being flexible, sometimes letting your child sleep in the pram while going for a walk is better than having to deal with an overtired child.
Creating the perfect sleep environment (white noise, dark room and room temp of 19-22 degrees)
Ensuring your child is full during the day, and do not be afraid to offer more feeds more often. Regressions usually coincide with growth spurts which means they need more food.
If your child wakes during the night, Chantal says to keep it boring which means no eye contact and keep your voice monotone while you attend to the situation
And lastly, Chantal says to be firm, stay consistent, remain calm, supportive and be patient to your baby’s needs as children feed off your energy.
When to Contact a Doctor About Sleep Problems
If this process lasts for more than a few weeks and you start to get worried, you may contact your paediatrician if you notice issues like significant snoring or abnormal breathing. Other concerns may include stunted growth, limited weight gain, reduced energy, longer naps, or changes to appetite or bowel movements.
All and all, you should also remember to take care of yourself, as parenting is extremely hard to do (although rewarding). Do not forget to sleep, eat, and have a moment of self-care!