18 Month Sleep Regression

Here we are. 18 months old. Fun. Cute. TONS of developmental milestones. Molars coming in … and due to those milestones and molars, the dreaded sleep regression! She has all the typical signs- fighting nap, waking early, waking several times at night crying (which may be something similar to night terrors, but she goes back to sleep within 5 minutes, so we leave her alone). But it’s wearing us all down and out. I recognized the signs from when she had a 4 month sleep regression and now I just know that getting her to go to sleep is going to be hard work.

She’s getting overly tired before nap, since she’s been waking at 6:00am instead of 7:00am. So today we are trying an earlier nap time. We will see how it goes. This also means an earlier bedtime, probably in bed by 6:20-6:30, instead of 6:50pm. Hopefully this will get her back with enough sleep in her system that she starts waking at 7:00 again, instead of 6:00 every morning.

I don’t think I need to explain the importance of sleep for children. At 18 months old toddlers need between 13-14 total hours of sleep per day. If you factor an hour an 45 minute nap, that leaves about 12.25hours of night sleep for Lexie. She has been getting about 11 hours sleep at night for the last few weeks. Over a few days this leads to over tiredness which = cranky. cranky. cranky. and gradually less sleep every day. So before it gets so haywire I’m pulling my hair out, we are intervening!

But here is my hope: that daylight savings time will get us back on track. By switching it up a bit, staying up later that one night and having dark longer in the morning, I’m hoping it will help kick this 18month sleep regression’s butt. But I don’t know .. We will see. If not, I have been reading about how weighted blankets can help your babies sleep better, so that is another option to try. Anything to get over the sleep regression! Everything I’ve read says it can last from a few weeks, or until their 22 months old! Aaaah! I will be too pregnant and too worn out by then for a sleep-deprived toddler! I know that there are many parents out there who dislike their baby or toddler being in the darkness when they sleep, and believe it or not, many don’t believe this is a good thing. Well, it is, and there are many online sources to confirm this. darkness is a friend, not an enemy, says BestForParents! Darkness is good – it tells your child when it is time to go to sleep, just as the dawn tells them it is time to wake up – it’s all about routine, which I will go on to explain next.

What I do know is that people criticize for “scheduling” an routining. However I also know that we are creatures of habit and consistency. Babies and toddlers DEPEND on consistency. When we deprive them of that, their little bodies and minds go haywire. So when parents complain about a sleepless child who is up all hours and doesn’t nap, and runs wild all day, I wonder if they have ever tried a routine/schedule. Because truly, even in a baby/tot that is not a good sleeper it HELPS. It may no have them sleeping 12 hours through the night, but it will certainly establish a sense of confidence and security which will in turn make a happier baby/toddler/older child. Think back to school and even your job/career- there is a daily routine… a certain order in which everything is done. And when you come to the end of a certain task you realize it’s time for your break, lunch, to move on to the next task, go HOME etc. It is the same for a child, and just as important, if not more so.

Another large factor is nutrition. When our kids are eating Oreos (really, daycare?! I’m so glad I send Lexie her own foods), goldfish, PB&J, and juice (AKA SUGAR!) as their main source of nutrition, how can you expect them to feel and rest well? And if they seem to feel and rest well, imagine how much better they would feel if they had a healthier diet? You never know until you try, and I promise there is a difference!

I know all babies and children are different. I do hope that this next baby sleeps and eats as well as Lexie has. But even if it doesn’t, I will schedule him/her and have daily routines. It may not have the baby sleeping through the night (I do realize that some babies just don’t/won’t) or napping well, as Lexie was/does, but it certainly won’t hurt anything!