Miraculously, I was blessed to have a baby who was a sound sleeper. So when other parents seemed to complain about surviving on very little sleep, I considered myself fortunate. Of course, there were the nights of occasional wake-ups and teething, but overall we seemed to escape the extreme sleep deprivation which haunted many new parents.
Things were going smoothly and I was thanking my lucky stars for not having to deal with any of the fuss other parents were talking about. But guess what? It’s true when people say no good thing lasts forever. Eighteen months into living in pure bliss, sleep became my little one’s worst enemy. No matter what I did, he refused to sleep.
Signs Of Toddler Sleep Regression
Sleep regression is the period when your baby or toddler suddenly refuses to sleep. In my case, this lasted for a few weeks. If your toddler is refusing to sleep and it has gone beyond a day or two, you can safely assume that it’s sleep regression. Here are the signs that you need to watch out for (1):
- Refusal to go to bed
- Being awake way past their bedtime
- Screaming and making a fuss during bedtime
- Waking up frequently at night
- Skipping/less napping
- Change in appetite
What Are The Causes Of Sleep Regression?
With age, the sleep-wake patterns in toddlers may change. Newborns sleep around 16 hours during the initial stages of life. Slowly, the sleep pattern shifts to more night time sleeping as they progress to toddlerhood (2). This sleep pattern may change with age and how their mind and body develop as they grow.
Sleep regression is only temporary and it can also be due to external factors. Teething, travel or a change in routine can also disrupt your baby’s sleep cycle.
How To Manage Sleep Regression In Toddlers?
Here are a few things that helped us both survive through sleep regression:
Follow A Routine
Routine can be your baby’s best friend, and even yours. As soon as I started sticking to a routine for my toddler, we both started thriving on it. You may face some hurdles at first, but try your best to follow a routine that works for you both.
Set The Room For Sleeping
A cozy environment invites sleep. Dim the lights or switch it off when it’s close to bedtime. If there’s TV on in the next room, make sure you ask your husband to lower the volume or just turn it off for a while. Try to set a relaxing and calm atmosphere.
Engage In Calm Activities
Do you think a toddler will agree to go to bed if you’ve made it nice and cozy, and then decide to engage in tickle fights? If you’re still wondering, it’s a big NO. Slowly ease your toddler into bedtime. Ask your partner to not rile up your little one right before going to bed.
There were nights when I cried myself to sleep because I felt like such a failure. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no clue what to do to get my little one to stop crying and go to bed. But remind yourself that you’ve come this far. You can also talk to other moms about how they struggled and made it through. For me, my biggest comfort was knowing that I wasn’t alone in this. That there were other mommies out there who went through the same experience as me.
Limit Screen Time
I can’t tell you how much this step has helped me in easing my baby to bed. The last thing we did before going to bed was watching his favorite cartoon. But little did I know that it was making him even more restless to go to sleep. And screen time includes not just TV, but mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Try to switch it off at least one hour before bedtime, and see how it helps for a good night’s sleep. You can thank me later.
How did you handle your toddler’s sleep regression? Are there any tips that you would like to share with fellow mommies? If so, feel free to share in the comment section below.