Toddler sleep regression is something that we have become quite familiar with at my house. When Rethabile was about 18 months to 2 years her sleeping patterns changed, drastically. From a baby who never really had trouble napping or sleeping at night, she struggled not only with falling asleep but she would wake up during the night and cry as well.
My word! just thinking about those days makes me nervous. This is round about the time when Lethabo was a new born so he was having struggles of his own adjusting to this new world outside of mommy's comfy tummy. It was tough pheeeww!!!
So, First things first!!
What is sleep regression?
Sleep regression is when a child, usually a toddler, who normally sleeps well through the night, suddenly struggles to sleep. They wake up during the night more frequently than usual and sometimes even struggle to go back to sleep afterwards. This can occur at different stages of a child's life and these are usually stages of rapid growth and development.
In our desperation for more peaceful and quiet nights we learnt a few tricks that proved to be very helpful in this catastrophe. We learned that sleep regression can be caused by various factors such as teething, change of routine, stress, growth, brain development or even sickness. We also learned that it is temporary.
When we saw the same pattern repeat itself with Lethabo when he turned 2 we were more prepared to deal with it with the below tricks, yaaasss!
6 Tricks to beat toddler sleep regression:
Establish a bedtime routine: This is different for every family and child, it totally depends on what your little one likes. We were lucky that in this regard Rethabile & Lethabo were very similar. Their bedtime routine includes bath time, a bottle of warm milk, diaper change/potty time,teeth brushing, get favorite toy(for Lethabo this is currently the spoon), reading or story telling and lights out!! The trick about bedtime routine though is that you have to be strict about it. It's not always going to be welcomed graciously by everyone and you may have to bare being the bad cop in order to make sure it is adhered to. In my house daddy is a huge culprit of coming up with games that get the little ones so excited and energetic just before lights out, imagine!!! But, I had to teach everyone that games are for before bedtime routine starts. finish and klaar!!
Switch off TV & gadgets: This needs to happen at least an hour before their bedtime routine starts. You don't have to switch it off if other older people are still watching of course, you can just move the kids to another room in the house where they wont be affected by the noise and activity. This is so that their brains start to wind down in preparation for the night. Little ones generally get very fascinated by TV and games and gadgets and this brain stimulation can work against you at this hour so it's best to limit it to certain times of the day.
Bed time snack/bottle: The growth coupled with the amount of activity in toddlers can leave the little ones hungry even though they had super already. My little ones eat super at 5 so by the time we go to bed at they could use a little something to drink so that they don't wake up during the night because of hunger .Their bedtime treat is warm milk. They love their milk and keeps them right through.
Incentivize progress - This is especially for the older toddlers. They get excited when they make progress in anything. At this stage Lethabo goes with what ever Rethabile deems cool. Rethabile on the other hand likes it when we give her a pat on the back to say "welldone baby, look at you, you are a big girl sleeping right through the night." she like it so much that when we forget to tell her she reminds us that she slept right through and only woke up to make wee on the potty :-) The incentives come in different forms, they can get to walk with me during my evening walks or get a new toy or party pack.
Make a big deal about wake-up time as well: We have this thing at my house where we celebrate and yell when someone wakes up and comes out of the room. We make a fuss about it like we are so excited you finally joined us!!! The kids love this, it makes them blush and feel like they have conquered mount Everest and this has made bed time the necessary preceding action to the wake-up time celebration. I guess every family has it's own wiered rituals hey hahaha!
Remain consistent: This is of absolute importance when dealing toddlers. These little people are incredibly sharp and smart, if they feel that they can get away with doing or not doing something they will absolutely push their luck and breach the boundaries set. So even though it WILL be tough at times, stick to the routines and enforce the boundaries, it for their good their growth and mental and physical wellness.!!
If you have any Sleep regression tips of your own, please do share in the comments section below, I am it will help out a mommy in need!
Till next time...
Mommying In The City!