Is your toddler refusing to go to sleep, waking up at all hours of the night, or rising in the early hours of the morning?
If so, your toddler may be in the midst of their 2-year-old sleep regression.
While it can be challenging and exhausting, if your 2 year old’s sleep schedule suddenly shifted, there is good news: it’s very normal and only temporary.
In this article, we take a look at some of the common characteristics and causes of sleep regression. Then, we check out tips from the pros to help get your 2 year old’s sleep schedule back on track.
What to Know About 2-Year-Old Sleep Regression
Why Won’t My 2 Year Old Sleep?
A setback in your child’s sleeping habits is common. It is often seen at ages with major developmental milestones, such as 8 months, 18 months, 2 years, or 3 years.
New activities or changes in your daily routine (such as ending naptime) can also affect your 2-year-old’s sleep schedule.
The trademarks of toddlerhood also can impact your 2 year old’s sleep schedule. Your toddler’s new independent streak comes with a need to control elements of their daily lives. And what better way to do that than with their own sleep schedule?
As you try to get your toddler to rest when they need to, you may ask: how long until my 2 year old’s sleep schedule is normal again?
With patience and consistency, most 2-year-old sleep regressions only last 1-3 weeks. Plus, there are many ways to help you navigate the bedtime blues without losing your cool.
Here are some tips to help you see the light at the end of the sleepless tunnel— and to help you fix your 2 year old’s sleep schedule.
How to Handle 2-Year-Old Sleep Regression
Whether your 2 year old won’t nap or is waking the family up in the middle of the night, the 2-year-old sleep regression can be a true test of your patience. However, with some good strategies and support, you can get your 2 year old’s sleep schedule back on track in no time.
A great place to look for insight into getting your toddler to sleep is your daycare. Childcare providers tap into their toolkit of strategies to come up with the best solution that ensures each child gets the sleep they need.
Here are some ideas and strategies for you to try when getting your child to sleep at home:
Tackle it Together
Create an open dialogue with your family members and childcare providers. Ask questions about your 2 year old’s sleep regression. Doing so will ensure everyone is on the same page.
One of the benefits of daycare is having a team of professionals who have experience with 2-year-old sleep schedules. Working together will help you to address the challenges head-on and come up with a solution.
Here are a few questions to ask your provider:
- Is my child having trouble napping at daycare?
- Could we adjust my child’s nap schedule at daycare?
- Are there any strategies or routines that work well for them to sleep?
Swap Out Screen Time
Studies continue to suggest that screen time later in the day can negatively impact children’s ability to sleep. While a rerun of Daniel Tiger can be a relaxing post-bath activity, it can also impact your 2 year old’s sleep schedule.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests limiting devices with blue light exposure before bedtime to help ease into your evening routine with minimal stimulation.
For many families, the lack of screen time at daycare is a huge plus. Since your toddler isn’t unwinding in front of a TV or tablet before nap time at daycare, it may be wise to consider swapping the screen at home for another relaxing nighttime activity.
Stick With Your Sleep Schedule
While your toddler may be adamant that they’re ready to ditch the daytime nap, that may not always be the case. Do your best to acknowledge your child’s request while maintaining firm boundaries.
If your 2 year old won’t nap, but you know it’s still a necessity for them, try adjusting nap time for later in the day. Many daycares have staggered nap schedules, where the older children go down for a nap later in the day. Some daycares also encourage children to lay down even if they won’t sleep for quiet time so they can rest their bodies if they are resisting napping.
Provide Limits and Choices
Childcare providers will offer choices throughout the day to support their children’s independence. This strategy can be a very effective tool for your bedtime battles.
First, explain that sleep is a necessity, not a choice. Explain why we need to rest our bodies. This will help your child understand—even if they don’t want to hear it.
By eliminating sleep as a choice, you can divert their attention to the other decisions they can make. Offering simple choices—like which pajamas to wear to bed—is a tried and true method.
By allowing your toddler to feel in control over a decision, you can ease the resistance they may be feeling.
Keep it Calm, Collected, and Consistent
When your 2 year old wakes up screaming in the middle of the night (again), it can be hard to keep your cool. But staying calm and consistent with your responses is crucial.
Patience and perseverance are the keys to get your 2 year old’s sleep schedule back on track—before you know it, you’ll be snoozing soundly once again.
Watch Your Children Thrive With Cadence Education
They say it takes a village to raise a child—and this couldn’t be more true when you’ve got a toddler refusing to sleep. Whether it’s your family at home or educators at daycare, it’s essential to have a support system. A support system helps you navigate these challenges together—like tag-teaming the sleep duties.
Cadence Education has been that support system for many families over the last 20 years. The educators in Cadence schools and programs bring years of experience to the table, working together to lovingly nurture your child. From learning responsibility to forming first friendships, Cadence Education provides a fun and creative environment for your child’s growth.