If your two-year-old was previously sleeping through the night but suddenly starts waking up frequently or having trouble falling asleep, you may be experiencing a sleep regression. This is a common phase that many toddlers go through, but it can be challenging for parents. Here are some tips to help you and your child get through this phase.
A sleep regression is a temporary disruption in a child’s sleep patterns. It typically occurs around certain developmental milestones, such as when a child learns to walk or talk. For your two-year-old, this is due to both their rapidly developing language skills and their desire for autonomy. During a sleep regression, a child may have trouble falling asleep, wake up frequently at night, or wake up earlier than usual in the morning. It can be frustrating for parents, but it’s important to remember that it’s a normal part of a child’s development and will most likely pass soon.
During the two-year-old sleep regression, it’s common for children to resist bedtime and have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. To combat this, it’s important to establish a consistent bedtime routine and stick to it every night. This routine can include activities such as a warm bath, reading a book, singing a song. It’s important that the steps stay the same each and every night. For example, your toddler will likely try to stall bedtime by requesting another book. It is your role to establish the boundary in this case by sticking to the same number of books every night.
By following the same routine every night, your child will begin to associate these activities with sleep and will be more likely to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Consider using a visual bedtime routine chart to help them be more invested in getting ready for bed. Additionally, make sure your child is getting enough physical activity during the day to help them feel tired at bedtime. This can include playing outside, going for a walk, or participating in a toddler-friendly exercise class.
While you want them to be tired at bedtime, you also don’t want them to be overtired. It may seem like they need a later bedtime, but the truth is actually the opposite. If your child is struggling with night wakings or early morning wakings, an earlier bedtime is your best bet.
Two year olds are at an age where they are beginning to assert their independence and autonomy. Providing age-appropriate choices can help them feel more in control and reduce power struggles at bedtime. For example, you can ask them if they want to wear their blue or red pajamas, or if they want to read a book about animals or trucks. By giving them choices within a structured routine, you can help them feel more secure and confident in their ability to make decisions.
During the two year old sleep regression, it’s important to remember that your child is going through a developmental phase and may be experiencing new fears or anxieties. By providing age-appropriate choices, you can help them feel more in control and reduce bedtime battles. You can also involve them in the bedtime routine by asking them to help choose their bedtime story or pick out their stuffed animal. This can help them feel more invested in the process and more willing to cooperate. If they aren’t resistant to making a choice, explain that you will choose and that you’ll try again tomorrow. The goal is NOT to engage in a power struggle.
One way to survive the two year old sleep regression is to consider adjusting nap times. Sleep needs decrease around this age which means that they may benefit from a shorter nap earlier in the day. Pay attention to your child’s behavior and mood throughout the day to determine if they are getting enough rest. It may take some trial and error to find the right nap schedule, but it can make a big difference in their nighttime sleep.
The two-year-old sleep regression can be a frustrating and exhausting time for parents, but it’s important to remain patient and consistent in your approach. Stick to a consistent bedtime routine and try not to deviate from it too much. If your child wakes up during the night, resist the urge to bring them into your bed or offer extra comfort. Instead, reassure them and encourage them to go back to sleep in their own bed. With time and consistency, your child will likely return to their normal sleep patterns.
During the two-year-old sleep regression, it’s important to remember that your child is going through a developmental phase and may be experiencing new fears or anxieties. This can lead to disrupted sleep patterns and frequent night waking. While it can be tempting to try new sleep training methods or make drastic changes to your child’s routine, it’s best to stick to what has worked in the past and remain patient. This is not the time to transition them to a toddler bed or to drop their nap. Consistency is key during this time, so try to maintain a consistent bedtime routine and avoid making major changes to your child’s sleep environment. Remember that this phase will pass, and with patience and consistency, your child will soon be sleeping soundly once again.
Want more? Grab my Free Stress-Free Bedtime Routine Chart!
Or find out more about working with me here.
Find out why they happen and three steps to take to make them stop!
3 Tips to End Early Morning Wakings
Is Your little one waking between 4-6 AM?
send me my guide