How to handle toddler sleep regression? Step by step guide.
Having a small kid at home is never easy when it comes to sleep. From the moment they are born until the moment they leave home for college, you’ll always worry about them waking up, having nightmares, or staying out late. However, there is a period of time, when everything seems fine – when your child becomes a toddler and starts sleeping peacefully. Up until he or she doesn’t.
Some toddlers who sleep well may suddenly start waking up at night or having problems falling asleep. That is called sleep regression. This state is often temporary, but it is very unpleasurable – both for you and your child.
Fortunately, there are four simple steps that can help you deal with this problem quickly and efficiently: implementing a proper sleep routine, checking your kid’s health, changing their pillow or mattress, and staying calm and consistent.
Read on to discover why your child may experience sleep regression – and learn more about these simple steps.
What causes sleep regression in toddlers?
There are several possible reasons why your child may suddenly start having problems sleeping. These reasons can be divided into two categories: temporary and permanent.
Temporary causes of sleep regression:
Stress or anxiety
Violent dreams or nightmares
Illness or fever
Watching TV or playing too much before bedtime
Uncomfortable bedding (hot room, hard mattress – check mattress guides to learn more about choosing the right mattress)
Competing needs (such as the desire to play with a friend)
Changing routine (e.g. going on vacation)
Permanent causes of sleep regression
Health problems (including sleep apnea)
Sleep disorders (including restless leg syndrome, sleepwalking, and sleep terrors)
What can I do when my toddler starts having problems sleeping?
First of all, it is important to realize that sleep regression is very common in toddlers. In fact, about 75% of children experience sleep problems around the age of 18 months – and 3% of them have severe problems.
At the same time, many parents get frustrated because they think it is their fault. However, this is not true – sleep regression is a part of growing up. It doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong.
In such a situation, there is nothing wrong with getting frustrated and looking for help. You just need to be aware of the fact that there are thousands of people who went through the same thing before you – and people are still going through it every day. So if you are feeling overwhelmed with your toddler’s behavior at night, you’re not alone. The most important thing you can do is to stay calm and consistent – and follow these four steps:
Implement a proper sleep routine
Implementing a proper sleep routine is not an easy task because you have to find the right balance between letting your child feel independent and giving him or her the security of your presence. However, once you find it, you’ll be able to help your child fall asleep easily – which will make both of you feel comfortable and relaxed.
Check your kid’s health
Sometimes, sleep regression may be a sign of a serious health problem. For example, a sudden change in sleeping patterns may indicate the onset of colic or asthma. If your child has recently been ill or had a fever, you should talk to your doctor about possible causes of sleep regression.
In addition, there are certain medical conditions that may put your child at risk for sleep regression – including ADHD, autism, and apnea. In order to protect your little one from many sleep issues, you need to know what the symptoms of these conditions are and how to react appropriately.
Change your kid’s pillow or mattress
Even though most parents don’t usually think about it, changing your toddler’s pillow or mattress may actually help resolve their sleep problems. For example, your child may start sleeping well after you purchase a pillow with memory foam or get a soft mattress.
However, there are two things you need to keep in mind before purchasing any kind of bedding:
(1) don’t buy anything too soft because it won’t support your child’s spine;
(2) always check whether the product is safe for your kid to use.
Stay calm and consistent
If your child wakes up and starts crying, try not to panic – stay calm and consistent. You should do everything in your power to get them back to bed as quickly as possible. At the same time, try not to force them to lay down if they don’t want to go back to sleep. The most important thing is to remain calm and loving so that your child understands that their feelings are completely normal – and that they can trust you.
Sleep regression is a normal part of growing up and it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. In most cases, it is temporary – and can be resolved easily by implementing a proper sleep routine, checking your kid’s health, changing their pillow or mattress, and staying calm and consistent.
However, be aware that in some cases, medical advice is necessary. If your child starts showing unpleasant symptoms, such as trouble breathing at night, don’t hesitate to visit your pediatrician.