Thursday, July 3, 2014

18-Month Sleep Regression: Also Known as Torture

I gotta tell you: even as the (blogging partner-designated) sleep expert, this one has me thrown all out of whack.

She's 19 month old, for heaven's sake.  I thought we had this sleep thing nailed. Didn't we? Not according to her, we didn't.  About five weeks ago (Seriously. How am I still functioning?) AK designated between 4:30 and 5:15am as the new wake-up time.

How did someone who is so focused on good sleep for her child let this one get away from her? It just happened. We've done some travelling, AK has been (mildly) sick a few times, she started a new preschool, we might be working on some teeth...and suddenly it is five weeks later and I can barely stand upright.

Sleep regressions are common - most babies and/or toddlers experience at least one of them. And, there are several main ones: 3 to 4 months, 8 to 10 months, 12 months and 18 months. They often coincide with a developmental milestone: rolling over, crawling, walking, talking, etc. and can last anywhere from two to six weeks. All of the studies and blogs I have read all give me the same message: "It's a phase. Let it pass." Way easier said than done. And, I hate all of those studies.

I basically have two options here: (said in mocking tone) "It's a phase. Let it pass." or deal with it head on. What if it's not a phase? What if she's asserting her new-found independence and she wants to hand one to me - at 5am? No, thank you, sweet girl. No, thank you.

We decided to tackle this apparent sleep regression head-on and send our little girl back to sleep orientation.

Therefore, each morning at her crack-of-dawn waking, Daddy (ha ha, Daddy!) went into her room and told her it was still night-night time. Why Daddy? Because Mommy is the best person ever (apparently) to see in the morning and there's no hope of going back to sleep after Mommy comes in.

About three mornings this happened. I confess: there were some tears. But, nothing that sent me into the fetal position over what a bad mother I was. Her designated wake-up time was 6:30am. At that time, I went in - full of sunshine, puppy dogs and ice cream to 'rouse' her. Did it work?

Kinda. But, then I did something else. I moved her bedtime up 15 minutes.

Bingo. Done.

See, a child of AK's age needs about 11 hours of sleep at night. For some reason, a 7:30pm bedtime was just too late. When kids get over-tired (yes, even by 15 minutes), it becomes more difficult for them to sleep as they should.

So, problem solved? For the most part, yes. This morning, she woke at 5:15am, Daddy did his song and dance, she squawked a bit and then happily joined the land of the awake at 7:15am. I am praying for sleep, not necessarily consistency here, people.

She's a toddler let's remember. She's gaining a seeming million new words each day. She's gone from walking to running. She started a new school. Her life is constantly shifting. And, I am going to do my best to give her one of the greatest gifts I can, even through all of this: sleep.

In return, I would appreciate the same, my darling daughter. Please and thank you.


  1. My daughter is turning 1 soon and we just got her to sleep through the night at about 9 months. Before that all bets were off. She was up every 3 or 4 hours. It's been amazing these past few months, but I'm dreading a sleep regression. She gets almost exactly 11 hours . (7-6) I hope it works out for you!

    1. Hopefully, you will escape them all! But, if you happen to fall victim to one - know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Good luck, from a fellow sleep-lover!