How to handle the 2-year-old sleep regression
Although you probably did not expect your newborn to sleep all night, your toddler needs a settled, reliable bedtime and sleep routine.
Whether it’s a bath, a story, or a song that tells your baby to calm down and prepare for sleep, you’ve generally mastered the bedtime routine that works for your family when your child is 2.5 years old.
All the hard work you put into creating a peaceful routine makes it even more painful when your child suddenly begins to fight with sleep after months of reliable bedtime.
If you have a child about 2 years old, who suddenly does not sleep as they used to and who has trouble before bedtime, who wakes up several times at night or gets up for the day too early, your little one is likely experiencing a 2-year sleep regression.
Read on to learn more about what it is, how long it will last, what the causes are and what you can do to help it pass as quickly as possible.
WHAT FACTORS PLAY INTO THE 2 YEAR SLEEP REGRESSION?
- Separation anxiety can intensify — this means your little one doesn’t want to be alone and will let you know loudly.
- FOMO — Children of 2.5 years old are beginning to realize that there are many things that happen when they are asleep and do not want to miss out on the fun!
- Fears — about 2, imagination explodes. This means a lot of fun and stupid games, but it is also the beginning of real fears. They begin to become aware of their environment and the world around them. The main fears are usually the fear of darkness, monsters, and shadows.
- The limits of testing and a greater desire for control and independence: 2-year-old children are known to want things to continue and come back continuously. Your “NO! ” game is strong and they have the stamina to try to swing us so that things turn their way.
- Transition to a large crib too early: toddlers are not ready to move into a crib until they reach the age of 3 or can order a large crib. If they are too young in transition, it can be difficult for your child to control their desire to get out of bed. This means you can have a small visitor who continually leaves your bed/room!
- Potty Training: Some 2.5-year-old children are ready to practice potty, and some are not ready for up to three years. If your child is working on potty training, sleep will usually be successful while learning to master such a skill. This will happen, no matter how old you are working on potty training.
- Arrival of a new sibling — about 2, many families begin to welcome a new sibling into the family. This is a big change for toddlers; besides, it can be a tough fit for you, learning to juggle with two smaller ones!
- Start kindergarten or preschool — entering kindergarten can be a fun and overwhelming change. Maybe this is the first time your son has been away from Mom. Or his first time trying to take a nap somewhere other than his cradle at home.
- In addition, there is a huge amount of stimulation and increased activity, which can quickly tire your young child.
2.5-year-old molars – discomfort in teething will not cause regression but can cause night awakenings that will create a snowball effect from becoming too tired.
Sleep needs change – 2-year-old children need between 1-2 hours of daytime sleep, which is less when they were 1 and needed a solid 2 hours. They are also able to tolerate longer periods of wakefulness.
If the time of the nap begins to grow too late (after 13:00), it can cause more resistance at bedtime. Make sure your toddler is in place no later than 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. This will ensure that they will be ready for bed around 19:00 – 19:30, which is an average bedtime time at this age.
How to handle the 2-year-old sleep regression
Here are some things to do and not to do when your child has a 2.5-year sleep regression.
Don’t drop the nap
My number one plea is not to let him down. Remember, there’s a regression right now. Things can be good again with some adjustments and sometimes with a little waiting for him. Keep the nap. A 2-year-old who stops sleeping will be a 3-year-old who does not take a nap. Stay strong during a nap.
I can’t even tell you how many people have made this comment to me over the years: “You are so lucky that your three-year-old is still sleeping a nap! All mine refused when they were 2 years old. “
Guess what? Many of my kids didn’t want to sleep like a 2-year-old. They also wanted to stay awake and play. I had to fight with the little girl to take a nap. It wasn’t funny. It would have been easier now to throw my hands in the air and let this little one stay awake.
But I didn’t. I stayed with her. I tried the grumpy, crying, and napping every day, and I always walked into this room to take a good nap.
Those 2.5-year-old children who did not want to take a nap at the age of two did so. They were still taking a nap at the age of 3 (not every day, but most days). They stopped the nap at the age of four but began to rest. It was worth the grumbling of a two-year-old girl.
Analyze the duration of wake time
Your child may need a little more wake time before the nap begins. You learned that a baby’s sleep is sensitive and has very sensitive wake-up time. Young children can, too. A child may need to be in bed in a ten-minute window to really sleep that day (I had a child-like that). Pay attention to your child’s needs.
Consider teething or illness
Your child may have sleep problems due to teething or illness. An ear infection can cause sleep problems. A simple cold can lead to bad sleep. I always take pain or illness into account before making a plan of action when sleep problems occur. If your child wakes up because of pain or illness, nothing else will help him sleep well.
Consider life changes
Your child may move to a new bed, receive a new brother, or a new activity. If her 2.5-year-old girl recently moved into a big child’s bed, she might be a little anxious to sleep in that big bed and might need time to adapt. Two-year-old children are often about to welcome a new brother into the house. Your child may have moved into a new room to prepare for a new baby. If your child is training to go to the toilet, this can cause a lot of sleep regression. Your child may be excited to be able to get out of bed at any time to go to the bathroom. Your child may be nervous about an accident and regularly visit the toilet to avoid an accident. All these things can cause sleep regression.
Do have rules and consistency
Stay consistent with your sleep rules. Your child can start testing to get out of bed without permission. Respond in such a way as to prepare the ground for good long-term sleep habits. Have bedtime at the same time every night. Take naps at the same time every day. Expect sleep to be something in your child’s life.
Give him some time
This goes hand in hand with maintaining consistency. Before you change anything, give him time. In general, I would like to say that two weeks is enough to decide whether to change something. However, it is about 2 weeks of solidly poor sleep. If he is beaten or failed, he would even leave up to a month to wait and see if things are fixed by himself.
Consider night fears
Your child may wake up after falling asleep because of a nightmare or night terror. If it becomes a habit, fear of these nightmares can cause your child to not sleep. There’s some good news. You can help your child through nightmares and night terror. Sometimes, there are very simple things you can do to help avoid them altogether.
Keep your child in a crib as long as possible – this sleep regression is not your way of telling him that they no longer like his crib. The transition to a bed too early can make the challenges of this regression even more difficult.
Set limits – keep in mind that you always have control over the bedtime routine. Determine how many books you will read, how many songs you will sing, and how many hugs and kisses are part of the routine. Then stay with him! Your cute little requests (also known as stagnation tactics) may start to press too late on bedtime.
Fall back to sleep training – If your child does not adjust to normal and healthy sleep habits again within a month, it may be time to think again about sleep training
How long will the sleep regression last?
This is the golden question, and you probably know that it really depends on the child. In general, helping all family members get enough sleep is much more important than following any rule in a book. The author of a book does not understand your unique circumstance. Listen to what your instincts tell you, and remember that there is an infinite number of solutions. It’s just a matter of finding one that you and your child feel good about.
Should you cry it out?
Many parents come to the point where they want to let their child cry it out or put a lock on the door. While we did that with both children during the baby stage, most young children only intensify when they try it out.
In addition, you can really start breaking trust with your child. Essentially, you say, “When you need me most, I will take you further.” Uncomfortable discomfort can begin to be built, and that’s when you will see all kinds of misconduct spreading into other areas of life.
When it seems too overwhelming, be aware that the 2-year sleep regression is just a particular fun period that you can survive all. You can be sure that this is the last episode of sleep regression that you will have to cope with, and it does not last long.