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18-Month Sleep Regression

When Your Toddler Stops Sleeping

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

I’ve written before and you were amazing in helping out when I had drama with my Mother-in-Law so I figured I would pitch another question your way and see what you had to say. My son is now about 17.5 months old and is driving.me.insane.

Since he was around 11 months old he’s been sleeping through the night getting about 11 hours and he dropped to one nap a day around a year old and that nap was about 2 hours. Lately that has gone all to hell. About 3 weeks ago he started waking up early in the morning, somewhere between 4am and 5:30am. He will not go back to sleep at this point even though he is clearly still tired. We’ve pretty much tried everything to get him to stay in bed longer and sometimes we’ll get an extra 30mins-1 hour, sometimes he’s just up and that’s the end of it.

Naps have also gone all to hell and are only about an hour these days. He’s cranky, over-tired and throwing temper tantrums at the drop of a hat (which I realize is age-related anyway). The thing that’s interesting about all of this is that he naps at daycare. He’ll put in at least 2 hours there if not more and doesn’t wake up after an hour, or at least that’s the report I’ve gotten from the women who are with him.  

I know he’s getting molars but those have all cut through and when he wakes up he screams bloody murder until one of us comes in. It almost sounds like he’s scared but it’s not night terrors considering how responsive he is when we go see him. I suppose my question is, do you have any insight into what’s up here? Did you go through this with either Noah or Ezra and did it pass by?

I’ve combated this on the weekends by giving him two naps if necessary getting his daytime sleep back to 2 hours and we put him to bed extra early to help manage his over tiredness. If you have any other insight or suggestions let me know because this is killing me. I kind of feel like I’m doing everything wrong all over again because of how miserable we all are right now.

Thanks in advance for your help. If you haven’t dealt with this nonsense with your kids hopefully Ike won’t be an exception.

E

Everybody! Say it with me! Let’s give a big cheer for the 18-MONTH SLEEP REGRESSION YAAAAYYYYY!

I know it’s cold comfort, but this is so, so normal. Hair-pulling, eyeball-searing, crazy-making NORMAL. I don’t know why more pediatricians don’t arm parents with information about sleep regressions, because it would be SO NICE to know that hey, yeah: Sometime around 18 months old your child’s sleep will go to absolute HELL. Both for naps and nighttime.

(For the record, I don’t think your daycare ladies are telling you the full truth. I bet he’s giving them hell too, but they’re trying to assure you that everything is fine. Because MY daycare ladies did the same thing to me during Noah’s four-month sleep regression, just INSISTING that his naps were continuing on all perfectly and peacefully there. This white-lie had the opposite effect on me, because it made me feel like a failure at home because WHY AREN’T YOU NAPPING FOR MEEEEEE. Then one day I had to drop off some extra supplies for him after lunch and caught them doing laps around the room with a howling, pissed-off Noah who was CLEARLY in no mood for a nap, oh hellll no.)

Anyway. Obviously, you want to rule out other possibilities (festering ear infection, molars, night terrors, etc.), but once you blow through that relatively short list and are STILL dealing with crazy non-sleeping patterns in the 17-19 month range, yep. 18-month sleep regression. Hello and welcome to it. Please read this entry by the great sleep-regression-whisperer Ask Moxie, because she describes it perfectly. It’s normal. It’s awful. It’s not your fault, there’s not really anything you can do to fix it, but. But! IT WILL PASS.

I wish I could remember how long it lasted for us — and oh yes, we went through it with both Noah and Ezra, and I am confident we will go through it with Ike (who just last week seemed like he was getting a head start on the four-month regression, then went back to normal the last two nights, ebb and flow and unpredictability, ahoy!). It was definitely one of the longer, more brutal regressions. A month, at least, I’d say. (I’ve blocked it out, lalalala.) The early ones tended to last under two weeks, on average.  And since the 18-month regression hit the boys’ naps just as hard, it meant day after day of dealing with a cranky, willful, overtired toddler who JUST NEEDED TO SLEEP BUT WOULDN’T.

I have no solutions or suggestions. You’re not doing anything wrong. You just go day by day and hope for the best, and hope that maybe today is the day he’ll snap out of it and go to sleep. If not, well, maybe tomorrow.

I do have a ton of sympathy though, because oh. OH. There were days when my exhaustion and frustration would take over and I just. Couldn’t. Deal. With my child’s sleep-deprived tantrums and whining. There were days when I made multiple trips to the bathroom to count to 10. Who is this annoying, non-sleeping monster child and where did my sweet little baby go? Why did I think we were so lucky to have a good sleeper only to have it all turn to crap before his second birthday? WHY GODS OF HYPERBOLE, WHYYYYY?

And then, just like that, BAM. Done. Over. Back to sleeping through the night and waking up cheerful and well-rested and napping just as good as before.

That will happen for you too, I promise.

Read More About the 18 Month Sleep Regression Here:

__________________________________________________________________
If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected]

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Zoë
Guest
Zoë

I had never heard of sleep regressions when my oldest two were babies probably because they slept great. But after going through a 4 night sleep regression at 4 months with my youngest (it felt like a lot longer though), and a 10 night one at 10 months, I am not looking forward to what’s heading our way in 6 months. I might start sobbing now.

Anthony from CharismaticKid
Guest

I still have night terrors. Actually, even moreso now that I’m an adult.

E
Guest

Amy, thank you. Thank you so damn much. At least now I feel better because this is the one regression I feel like NO ONE talks about. 4 months and 9 months people talked about. This one, no one will cop to dealing with. Now I must just survive without killing someone (likely my husband). Zoe, I had the baby who didn’t sleep through until after he got through the 9 month regression. He went from growth spurts to regressions and just never slept. Then after 8 months or sleeping BAM! I will cross my fingers that you do not… Read more »

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

Also the transition from two naps to one can go back and forth for quite a while. My daughter started daycare around 18 months, and they do one nap there, but on the weekends she still seemed to need two naps for a long time. We finally dropped to one nap on the weekend when she was over 2 yrs. And, I don’t know about daycare lieing about your kid’s naps. Mine consistently sleep 2 hrs or more at daycare, but we are lucky to get an hour at home. I chalk it up to different environment and routines.

Jeannie
Guest
Jeannie

I just wanted to note that my kid also went through sleep regression periodically, but would actually sleep just fine at daycare for whatever reason. More tired? Knew he couldn’t pull his crazy tactics? Who knows. But it is possible that the OP’s kid is napping just fine as the daycare people say. Mine did. 🙂

And yes, my kid is now five and went through all kinds of crazy regressions for sleep and now again sleeps through the night (note: it didn’t take until now.) It all goes away … eventually … 🙂

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

what is op daycare Verbage?

Susan
Guest
Susan

I don’t have anything helpful to offer to the OP, unfortunately, but I did read this interesting article about baby and toddler sleep in the NYT today: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/health/views/13klass.html

hodgepodge
Guest

I have a small dayhome and *all* the kids nap here better than they do in their own homes. I’m not the sleep whisperer or anything – my own kids gave up naps entirely really young – but my theory is just that the other kids (many of whom are only children) just get more tired here than they do at home. We go for walks, there is lots of running and mental & physical exertion… kids get worn-out at daycare. So he *may* be sleeping at daycare better than he does at home. It wouldn’t be unusual.

Hillary
Guest
Hillary

My 19 month old daughter just went through this, and right around the time I was frantically calling my mother to come and help because I couldn’t function, she started sleeping again. Just like with all of these milestones, right? About the time you think you’re DONE, voila, it is all better. I will say that in her regression, my daughter stopped sleeping through the night AND at daycare, and would completely pass out in the car going home from daycare and then be a wreck until her bedtime. Her teachers and I figured out that she would sleep at… Read more »

andrea
Guest
andrea

What about at 2 1/2 years old?  She’s always been an early riser but now I just can not get her to go to bed and stay in bed though clearly she’s exhausted.

Wallydraigle
Guest

My older daughter didn’t really go through this at 18 months. She went through SOMETHING between 9 months and 14 months, where she’d previously slept twelve hours a night with no fuss for 6 months prior. I was on the verge of checking myself into the loony bin when she finally started sleeping again. But at 18 months? She was fine. . My younger (more willful, stronger, more vocal, more… MORE) daughter did do the 18-month sleep regression. And the two of them share a room. That was fantastic. We did just about everything we could think of that would… Read more »

Liz
Guest

I could have written this EXACT same letter a month ago.  I seriously was dying.  AND, I was uber-pregnant with our second (we just had her on Sunday!) so I was really freaking out because how in the world would I deal with a newborn AND this new crazed toddler who just needs to sleep???!!! And, Amy is right.  Suddenly, one day the horror just ended.  I think she started sleeping in to her normal time first (after we instituted earlier bed time) and then within a few days, her nap got back to normal.  I am so glad it… Read more »

Talia
Guest
Talia

I was going to ask the same question as Andrea. Ours went through a sleep regression a little before she turned two and then again at 2 & 3/4. Our pediatrician just went through the list of questions about our parenting techniques (we were following all the “tried and true stuff that should have had our child sleeping on a regular basis within two or three nights of being consistent” crap) & never said a word about sleep regression. I honestly felt like I was just a terrible mom with a crazy child. Thankfully it evened out for several months… Read more »

amber
Guest
amber

Oh my goodness! I am so there right now! My son is 19 months old and we have been going through this for a while, but this week it has been much worse. Lately he’s been waking up crying at various times in the late evening, usually right before we’re going to bed. This morning he woke up a little after five and screamed, “MAMA! DADA!” and whichever one of us would try to leave the room, he would cry for us until we came back. It is so weird, and frankly, getting tiresome! So, I hope it is over… Read more »

Madhu
Guest
Madhu

phase phase phase.
my 2 yr old just SEEMS to be coming out of his crazy ‘i-refuse-to-sleep-in-the-day’ phase. it drove me nuts. up at abt 6 in the morning and then non stop activity (and crankiness towards evening) till about 6.30 in the evening…at which point he would be just-cant-stay-awake any longer.

so breathe. my son’s phase lasted a lilttle over 2 months. but now he seems to be coming out of it (anti-jinx) . things will get better.

Wallydraigle
Guest

Our 2.5-year-old definitely went through some kind of sleep regression. She started SCREAMING every night when we put her to bed. She’s very articulate, but was only just beginning to learn how to express her own feelings and fears, and we couldn’t figure out the source of her distress. I finally deduced that a shadow on the wall and ceiling made by her crib bars looked like giant monster teeth. This is a girl who has never seen a show or read a book that had monsters in it. Funny what their little brains can concoct all by themselves. I… Read more »

Kimtoo
Guest
Kimtoo

I love the idea that other people’s houses make them more tired, and am now wondering why that never occured to me. I just used the fact that she would take naps for babysitters as more evidence that I just didn’t know what I was doing.
Nothing, nothing, nothing makes me more mama-stabby than a kid who won’t sleep and then fusses the rest of the afternoon. I can handle almost anything else, but dangit, kid, sleeeeeep.

Hannah
Guest
Hannah

Oh thank all higher powers that you wrote this. We’re in the midst of this and I was wondering what in the world was going on. Sprout has generally been a pretty good sleeper, the obvious teeth had broken through, and yet she was waking up all the time. Or being up from 1-4 am. Or waking up at 5 and not going back to sleep. And I was dozing off at my desk and completely failing to get anything done. So it’s nice to know that it’s just part of the giant SEKRET baby conspiracy and she’ll grow out… Read more »

Bridget
Guest
Bridget

We went through this HARD and I was pregnant and totally lost for what to do. Maybe it would have stopped on it’s own, but my husband and I had totally reached our breaking point and so he did what every many does when he hits his limit – he called his mom. She took the monitor from us and stayed for a week, though we didn’t need that long. 2 or 3 nights of her getting my son in the middle of the night instead of me or daddy (which were the two people he wanted) and it was… Read more »

Emily
Guest
Emily

I just have to comment.. Amalah.. you said the 18 month one was ‘the long one – lasting a month or more’. Gah. the 4month regression lasted for 3 months for me. Luckily, we skated past the 9 month regression (a couple nights and it was over – might have been teeth). I think I paid my first year dues. Not looking forward to the 18month one at all (not that anyone would).

Megan
Guest
Megan

I hope that is what is happening with my little girl right now! Regression mixed with teething and now a cold to top it all off! She started sleeping through the night at 14 months, the week after I weaned her. Before that she NEVER slept through the night and woke up at least 3 times a night. At 7 months she went through a THREE MONTH period of waking up 7-10 times Every. Single. Night!!! I nearly lost my mind. My husband had just deployed for a year and it was one of the lowest points in my Mama… Read more »

Joni
Guest
Joni

Up until three weeks ago, my daughter was sleeping 7 to 7 and then leisurely hanging out in bed for half an hour by herself after that. Now at 17.5 months, she is suddenly waking up at 5:30 crying for us to go to her immediately and having nighttime wake-ups too. I’d never heard of sleep regression but it totally fits. She had this same early morning pattern earlier this year (at 9 months I see now) and it lasted a few MONTHS but then went away. It’s miserable to be up in the dark cursing your kid to go… Read more »

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[…] For more information on regressions and wonder weeks, go here,here, and here. […]

Amy
Guest
Amy

It seems my daughter has been experiencing the 18 month regression. It started at about 17 1/2 months. She’s now 19 months and she’s still having one issue. We’ve made it through night wakings and right now she’s having nap issues. Prior to the regression she napped everyday like clockwork, 12:30-2:30pm. She slept every night like clockwork 7:30-7:30. Now, at exactly the one hour mark of her nap, she wakes crying. She’s never done this before the regression. It’s obvious later in the day that her nap wasn’t sufficient. Is it normal for the 18 month regression to last 2+… Read more »

Audrey
Guest
Audrey

My 17 mo old is going through the 18 mo sleep regression I think. She is waking up multiple times a night and standing in her crib screaming until my husband or I go in there. When we try to lay her down she screams and screams and screams. The only thing that calms her is picking her up. Then when we try to put her down she screams more. We have ruled out ear infections, but could be teething. It has been going on for about 2.5 weeks now and I was wondering if I should just start doing… Read more »

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

Can you tell me what you ended up doing?  I’m in the midst of this and dying a slow death of sleep deprivation.  My son is doing exactly what you describe and it’s been going on for 3 weeks.  It’s currently 1 in the morning and I’ve reverted to CIO bc nothings else helps.  It’s been an hour so far.  🙁

Amy
Guest
Amy

If you figure it out, can you let me know too? You sound like me. When I initially sleep trained my daughter at 9 months we did CIO but it didn’t take long. Now it just seems SO much worse to let her CIO, she just seems like she needs us more. But when we get her she’s still not happy and none of us are sleeping then. I’m not sure I can do CIO again. We just started the regression about 4 days ago and my girl is 17.5 months too and I am losing my MIND. Like seriously… Read more »

carly
Guest
carly

Thabk u…. as I was sobbing on the way home assuming I was earning the #worstmomoftheyear award. Oh how frustrating!

Jade
Guest
Jade

Thank you thank you thank you. I’m current sobbing at 3.30am because I think my 17 month old has broken my mind. We’ve had a month of incredibly broken sleep and to know there is a reason for it… I hope it ends soon

Tasha
Guest
Tasha

Thank you for this post. You have put my mind at rest. Thought I was going completely crazy and doing everything horribly wrong.. obviously not! Good luck to all you sleep deprived parents out there x

Lee
Guest
Lee

THANK YOU so much! Hit a wall today after managing tantrums and crankiness from no nap from my 17 m old. Went around in circles thinking it was a food allergy symptom, teething pain or road trip regression. Now I understand it’s not parental behavior related nor a baby health problem, but rather another toddler mystery!

Danielle
Guest
Danielle

I know this an old thread,a but wandering if anyone could tell me if this sleep regression starts as early as 16 months?
My LB refuses to nap at all in the day and going to bed is a struggle and he wakes up between 2am and 3am and can scream for up to 3 hours…….nothing works…….!
Help me……!!!!

Kim
Guest
Kim

I’m about ready to cry after reading this thread…I’m SO relieved to see that I’m not alone in this. I’d never heard of sleep regression until I read this post. My daughter is only 16 months, but she’s done pretty much everything a little earlier than “normal” (everyone says “every baby is different” but then they put a timeline on milestones like every baby is supposed to reach that milestone at that exact time – drives me crazy). What everyone explained in this thread is exactly what I’ve been going through. My daughter has slept through the night for the… Read more »

Elle murray
Guest
Elle murray

Oh please someone help. Everything that has been described here is exactly the same as what I’m goin through. Waking up 6 times a night screaming won’t go back asleep, day time sleep ranges from 1-2 hours. Only it’s has been around 2 months now. TWO months of broken sleep and bloody screaming! The neighbours must think the worst. It’s just gettin worse not better everything I’ve read it says this regression should last 6 weeks. It’s been much longer (feels like 6 years). I don’t want to be grey before I turn 23. Someone helpppppp 🙁 🙁

Alyson
Guest
Alyson

so glad I found this. My daughter is 17.5 and went from going down to sleep with no problem and waking up 11 hours later with no problem and same thing for her 2 hour nap to just being horrible for both. I literally have to pry her from my body to put her in the crib and then she stands at the crib crying until she falls asleep standing up! And then she will stay standing for a half hour, two hours, three hours until she finally lies down. And all her naps for the last week have been… Read more »

Isabel Kallman
Admin

Please check out this post on the 18-Month Sleep Regression: https://alphamom.com/parenting/toddler-parenting/when-your-toddler-stops-sleeping/

Also, if you still need your specific question answered by Amalah, please email it directly to her at: [email protected]. There is a queue and unfortunately Amy doesn’t always have the chance to answer all questions.

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[…] sleeping” and… what do you know: an 18-month sleep regression is a Real Thing and it sucks and you just have to ride it out. Oliver and Andrew did not go through this, so it’s no […]

Alyssa
Guest
Alyssa

So there is an end to this, and I don’t have to confine my normally peppy girl to the attic? Oh thank God! We are all so tired, only her baby sister has gotten sleep in the last week. Here I was thinking we had just gone crazy and somehow broke her ability to sleep.

Moz
Guest
Moz

Sleep deprivation and uncertainty can do awful things to parents.  Thank goodness for the internet!

My wife and I are sleeping in shifts to absorb our 20 month old’s inexplicably erratic sleep patterns, and we are going slightly mad from fatigue and frustration. My guess is our own frazzled state is compounding things for our son. Kids are soooo sensitive to atmosphere.

My heart goes out to parents trying to get through this terribly uncomfortable period by themselves.

Shawn
Guest
Shawn

Oh my lord. My husband had mention sleep regression but I had no idea what he was talking about until I read this. I am so very relieved that we are not the only ones that are going through this. Not that I glad that any of us have to go through sleepless nights. Our little mudbug has slept pretty good up until about a month ago. He is 17 months now. At first I thought it was him picking up on my stress from work and not sleeping because of it or not enough to eat or drink but… Read more »

S
Guest
S

Thank you so much for this post – I am at a loss with my almost 19m old daughter. She has been a dream sleeper since we brought her home from the hospital. We are now on day 10 of her screaming as soon as she sees her crib, not wanting to nap, not wanting to go to bed. I have resorted to rocking her to sleep (which I have never had to do… I repeat Never had to do). On a side note that is also very strange to me as my first daughter was a terrible sleeper. But… Read more »

Gemma
Guest
Gemma

Hi S, How are things going with your little one’s sleep? We are in exactly the same situation and it is driving us mad. Our little boy is 19 months and although he has never been the best sleeper, he has been sleeping through the night since he was 8 months or so and we were able to put him in his cot at sleep time and leave the room. Now he just screams and is awake multiple times a night and will only settle if one of us goes in to him. He is fine if one of us… Read more »

esther maguire
Guest
esther maguire

Oh thank you so much I was getting so worry my little man is 18 mths and not sleeping at night waking up crying every half hour I never heard of sleep regression first time mothers should be aware of this its frightening when you don’t know what wrong with your little one thank god im not the only mama going through this I taught I was doing sumting wrong

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

Thank you!!!! From a mama who’s (up at 4 after an hour screaming fit as typing this, night 2) always had it super easy up until now @ 19 months. I thought him and I were going crazy! It sure makes it easier to know its a stage, and actually it just made me calmer to go back in there again and deal with the screaming and crying. And it made him go back to sleep bc I was calmer and not so upset. (A repetitive mantra did help too to say out loud while stroking his chest-mamas right here… Read more »

Miranda
Guest
Miranda

Thanks for the info my gal is 18 and for the past 3 weeks she’s been waking up at 1am to 4 am crying, tossing and turning and I was so worried, not knowing how to help her sleep.I’m so relieved now that I know its temporary n it’ll pass.☺