Toddler Sleep Regression – Why Your Toddler Wakes at Night

Toddlers like babies can have spurts of time when they wake up several times a night. Not knowing what to do, can be frustrating

When you’re pregnant, everyone reminds you to sleep now, because once the baby arrives you won’t be able to do so. Then, once the baby is here, people check-in or offer to watch the little one so that you can catch some zzzz’s. If you’re like me, when your baby was an infant, you were able to exist on very few hours of sleep and not feel like a zombie. You were just used to it, though when it was offered, I took the help!

Toddler Sleep Regression - Why Your Child Wakes at Night

However, what you may not be prepared for, is that around 18 months your child can revert back to their non-sleeping ways, to what is called toddler sleep regression, leaving you feeling like you’ll never sleep a full night again. It can be frustrating, but there is an end in sight and remind yourself, this, like every other stage it is ONLY temporary.

Why Your Toddler is Waking Again

Around 18 months toddlers can begin going through another round of sleep regression. Some infants and older babies experience sleep regressions at other stages, but when you hit those toddler years, you’re not through yet. It really is too bad that more pediatricians don’t warn parents that this occurs. I had NO idea until it happened to us and I started googling.

There are so many things that could be causing the sleep regression, here’s what to look for so that you can love and support your little one

  1. Out of the blue your sweet sleeping child, will no longer sleep through the night and it is a struggle to get them to nap. Sound familiar? If not, you’re a lucky one! Many parents report that their child was sleeping through the night at 11+ months and then BOOM all of a sudden you’re up multiple times a night with your little one.
  2. Could your child be physically uncomfortable? Such as an ear infection or perhaps their 2 year molars growing in. If so, this could be the culprit for the lack of sleep.
  3. Another sleep disruption could be night terrors.Your child’s brain is growing and developing at a rapid rate, which means their imagination can begin to run wild. If they see a scary image on TV, that could then live on in their dreams and wake them from a deep sleep.
  4. What about at home, are there any major adjustments happening? Did you just move, or did you change day cares? Anything that disrupts a toddler’s normal day to day can really throw them off their schedule, which can lead to lots of unhappy nighttime wake ups.
  5. Separation anxiety has resurfaced. Believe it or not, separation anxiety can hang around until a child is 5+ years old. The fear obviously changes, but it still exists. Around 18 months to 2 years, toddlers can start to worry about being left alone or with a stranger. Again, this can lead to those middle of the night call-outs.
  6. Finally, there may just not be a simple explanation. There are just periods of time that a toddler wakes up and doesn’t want to sleep, you’ve gone through your list (and checked it twice) and nothing fits. This just means that you need be there to love and support your toddler, and hopefully catch some zzz’s on the side.

Losing sleep day in and day out can be really difficult on moods and outlooks on life. Just take a moment and remind yourself that this is temporary and it will pass. Be patient, surround yourself with loving and supportive people, and remember you are not alone.

Stay tuned for future posts in regards to toddle sleep regression regression – How You Can Sneak Quick Naps In and How to Survive Toddler Sleep Regression.

Looking for more information on this subject? Check out this post from What to Expect: Toddler Sleep Regression or Progression?

Your turn!

What other reasons do you have for toddler sleep regression? Please share in the comments below!



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16 Responses to Toddler Sleep Regression – Why Your Toddler Wakes at Night

  1. Emily Ardoin says:

    My best friend is having this problem with her 2 year old.. She wakes up and just hangs out for hours at a time. She’s not hungry or scared or anything… Just wants to be awake! So frustrating for a momma.

    • Jillian416 says:

      It is so tough, Emily! You just want your little one to sleep because you know that they’re going to be miserable if they don’t AND you will too. Just remind your friend that it is just temporary!! Thanks for visiting!

  2. Jenny says:

    And here I was thinking it only gets better after having a sleepless newborn 🙁

    • Jillian416 says:

      haha Well, it does for a little while, Jenny. Just remind yourself that you’re not super woman…that you need rest and your baby more than anything else. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Natalie says:

    Say it isn’t so! I have a 17 month old, and right now, she sleeps pretty well. I definitely am not looking forward to missing out on sleep like I did in the baby days–I’m MISERABLE when I can’t sleep well! At least I know what to look for if it does happen! 🙂

    • Jillian416 says:

      🙁 So sorry, Natalie!! At least you’ll be prepared. You’ll just need to take some extra naps here and there. It is also possible that your cutie may not go through it. Fingers crossed! Thank you for visiting!

  4. Yes, thank you soooo much for this post. My toddler is 21 months old and wakes up A LOT. Of course, he’s never STTN, so I’m still used to waking up every night. BUT it’s good to see posts like this because it makes you feel like “where did I go wrong” when your toddler is still waking up at night and it feels like they should’ve conquered this stage already. Thank you for posting this!

    • Jillian416 says:

      My pleasure, Jessica!! I think every parent asks themselves that same question, Where did I go wrong – and in many different situations. It’s so important to have a strong network of people who can lift you up and remind you that you’re doing the very best, and that perfection does not actually exist. Thanks for visiting!!

  5. Rachel says:

    Thanks for sharing on Merry Monday. My sweet child was the worst sleeper in history and I am not being biased. As a 2 year old, my son often got only 8-10 hours of sleep including naps (not healthy) but no matter what we tried, nothing ever helped and we took him to the doctor several times about it. He just fought sleep like a brazen warrior for hours. His pre-school gave up trying to get him to take naps. And the nightly wakeups were my own night terror. He is five now and it finally got better around 6 months ago or maybe he just gets the age appropriate amount now. I totally sympathize with parents going through this. But it will get better one day!

    • Jillian416 says:

      Oh my gosh!! Only 8 to 10 hrs of sleep!?! That’s insane!! I’m glad he’s starting to sleep better now, hopefully you can catch up on all that you’re behind in, too. 🙂 Thank you for visiting, Rachel!

  6. Bev says:

    I’m impressed you were able to function so well when your little one was a newborn! I felt so out of it and exhausted. I’ve been quite lucky that my now 11-month-old sleeps really well, but I am anticipating those inevitable nights when she won’t. I was thankfully warned about the 4-month sleep regression before it happened, so it’s good to know about the 18-month one. Ah, parentehood! Thanks for sharing, stopping by from The Pin It Party .

    • Jillian416 says:

      Weeeelll – I functioned. lol Some times were better than others, when Emmett was little – but most of my issues came from PPD, not lack of sleep.

      It’s definitely tough, but I think the way I got through it, was by telling myself it was only temporary. If it happens, lean on your loved ones. 🙂

      Thank you for visiting, Bev!

  7. Miranda says:

    My almost 3 year old has started coming into our bed in the middle of the night. I think it is because I am pregnant and although she is excited about the baby, she may be struggling with the fact that she isn’t going to be the baby anymore. I do have to admit though, I love feeling her little arms around my neck when she climbs into my bed. She will be grown up soon enough and then I’ll miss this.
    I found this post on the Social Media Saturday link-up.

    • Jillian416 says:

      Awh, Miranda! I completely agree, sometimes those arms around your neck are worth all the sleepless nights. They just feel so good! I often wonder if Emmett will struggle with me having a sibling (whenever this might happen). He’s definitely a momma’s boy and gets jealous when other kids in his day care come near me.

      Thanks so much for visiting!

  8. Kimberly says:

    Hello cute lady!Great post. Pinned and tweeted. We really appreciate you taking the time to stop by our party. It wouldn’t be a party without you. Please join us on Monday at 7 pm. Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls

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