Bianca Cheah with her child going through a regression

Signs of a 24-Month Sleep Regression and What To Do About It

Sleep regressions are challenging, but nothing short of normal.

The 24-month sleep regression is one of the most difficult sleep regressions a child can go through. This is where attachment really settles in and separation anxiety takes over. Your toddler may be beginning to associate emotions with language, verbalize that you are their caretaker, and see a need to have you by their side, 24/7. It’s marked by them waking up constantly in the night or refusing to go to bed without mommy or daddy in the room, by their side. We did some research to find out what causes this sleep regression, how to might appear to you, and how to get through it. Keep reading to find out more!

Why Does the 24-Month Sleep Regression Happen?

When things begin to seem like they’re falling into place, another sleep regression is just around the corner. Because the 24-month sleep regression is one of the hardest to overcome, it’s also one of the last ones you’ll have to experience. It’s a tricky situation to handle. You have to get your toddler to overcome the trials of growing up a little bit and being without their parent for every need. It usually lasts between two to three weeks. It might happen because of the following, according to The Sleep Ranch.

  • Inappropriate wake times: Toddlers at this age should be awake for much longer because their sleep needs shift and change. As a result, they might fight naps and bedtimes because they aren’t tired enough bed. To stop this, make sure you’re using age-appropriate waketimes.
  • Separation anxiety: Separation anxiety happens many times throughout a child’s youth, but peaks around two years of age. It is the excessive fear or worry about separation from home or an attachment figure.  It’s usually very temporary.
  • Major life changes: Any newness in a child’s life can make them anxious, which in turn leads to them not being able to sleep.
  • Skipped naps: Don’t skip naps when your child is getting older, it will lead to an overtired child who is fighting the issue and not being able to sleep.
  • Nighttime fears: Because your child is developing language, they are becoming consciously aware of the things that go bump in the night.
  • Teething: can still be a factor as some toddlers will start to get their two-year-old molars says Baby Sleep Magic

Along with this new stage, you may be also trying to remove the pacifier or starting to move them to a toddler bed. Try to be mindful not to add too many changes at once says Chantal Murphy from Baby Sleep Magic. 

What to Do About It

To combat this is a waiting game for the most part. You can try to work around and reduce everything mentioned to get through this short but difficult period of regression for your child.

  1. You’ll want to be really cognizant of their schedule to start to ween them into the appropriate sleep schedule.
  2. Limit naps to 2 hours with an ideal nap time of 12-2 pm with an ideal bedtime of around 6.30-7 pm.
  3. The good news is that with age, they usually become more adventurous, playful, and busy, resulting in your child being more tired.
  4. “Also two years old is when a child’s imagination kicks into gear as they start to imagine things they cannot see, which hello, can open the door to fear of the dark,” says Baby Sleep Magic. This is where it would be a great time to introduce a night light, one that gives a subtle orange glow.
  5. If your toddler has just started to wake during the night wanting to play, try to hold firm sleep boundaries.
  6. “Lastly, try to remain calm, loving, consistent, and patient during your toddler’s needs, as children feed off our energy. We need to be there for them for support during these challenging times,” says Chantal Murphy, certified toddler sleep consultant.

Also, once you can communicate fully, you’ll be able to know exactly what is bothering them in the future. Also, you’ll know if it’s more than a regression. Be sure to reach out to your pediatrician if anything seems out of the ordinary.

sleep regression
Image: Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash



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