Understanding The 18 Month Sleep Regression

I know what you’re thinking, “how can a child possibly go through ANOTHER regression?

As exhausting and frustrating as a sleep regression is, I do have a bit of good news (and bad) After completing this doozy of a sleep regression, you only have two more to survive through, and its a chance your little toddler won’t even experience those ones!


Sleep Regression? Or something else?

More times than not, a baby who is experiencing sleep problems may not be in a sleep regression at all, but the most popular explanation by other is always “He/She must be teething!” Or “It’s definitely a sleep regression!” The problem with this is parents are sometimes waiting it out for this so called regression to end, when in fact its a schedule problem or lack of independent sleeping skills.






The 18 month regression will present itself in various ways, but one of the most tell tale signs if your once independent sleeper is now waking several times a night, stretching their lungs during naps/bedtimes, and resisting naps.


What causes this regression?


The first three regressions all coincide with standard nap transitioning. Around the 4 month regression, babies go from 4 naps to 3; around 8-10 months, babies transition from 3 naps to 2; and around 15-18 months, babies go from 2 naps to 1.

From here on out, I want to try and find a new word to explain a sleep regression, rather than the word regression. In fact these disturbances in sleep aren’t much of regression at all, but technically a progression in our little one’s development.


What is causing your little one to boycott sleep?


Physical: Teeth do play a large role in sleep around this age, but are not to blame for ALL sleep issues. This is a common age where toddlers are cutting molars and canine teeth. This can cause discomfort which can of course disrupt your little one’s sleep.

Language Development: Around 18 months of age, your toddler will go through a HUGE language explosion. When they should be sleeping, they will be chatting up a storm in their crib.

Separation anxiety: Separation anxiety peaks at 18 months and can result in your toddler not wanting to be away from you. This can affect your child's’ willingness to settle into sleep for naps, and night time.

Boundary Testing: Your little toddler is becoming their own person, and with that comes boundary testing. The No game is strong at this age, and who better to test it out on than Mom and Dad!


How do you survive this level of sleep deprivation?


- Maintain consistency within your child’s schedules and routines.

- Introduce a security item

- Shift bedtime earlier to avoid your toddler becoming overtired if short naps are happening

- Set boundaries and check your reactions to the behaviours surrounding sleep.

- If all else fails - implement sleep training techniques to get back on track.

Hang in there - this regression ends fairly fast, and even quicker if you don’t introduce old habits back into your toddlers life. If you do need help - let me know! Ive helped many families get back on track after a regression, and would be happy to help you!

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