Toddler Sleep Regression or 2 Year Old Sleep Regression? The best way to get back on track with sleep.

by | Feb 4, 2024 | Improving sleep, Toddler, Top tips

I specialise in toddler and preschool sleep, and let me tell you—I absolutely adore two-year-olds. But… the 2 year old sleep regression or toddler sleep regression can be tough.

Sure, there’s the infamous ‘terrible twos,’ but there’s also an incredible transformation happening. Our once curious little beings are evolving into imaginative bundles of energy, mastering language development, and exploring the world around them through climbing, running, and a touch of mischief!

However, with these exciting developmental leaps often come changes in sleep patterns. I frequently hear from clients who find themselves navigating unexpected nighttime challenges, whether it’s a return to (somewhat undesirable) night wakings or a sudden disruption to their once peaceful sleep routine.

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Signs of the 2-Year-Old Sleep Regression:

Most commonly, around this age, parents observe the following sleep disruptions:

  • Bedtime battles
  • Nap time refusal
  • Resisting bedtimes and subsequent late bedtime routines
  • Early morning waking
  • Frequent night waking
  • Other sleep issues, such as attempting Houdini-style escapes from their cot

Duration of the Toddler Sleep Regression:

The duration of the 2-year sleep regression can vary. Some regressions may be short-lived, lasting only a week or so if addressed promptly. Others may introduce new sleep habits and preferences, extending the challenge for several weeks or even months.

If your child had solid sleep habits before, the regression may be a temporary hiccup, but persistent sleep difficulties from the 2 year old sleep regression may take longer to resolve.

Causes of the 2 Year Old Sleep Regression:

Developmental, circumstantial, and household changes can trigger sleep regressions. Key factors include:

  • Transitioning to a new room at nursery school
  • Arrival of a new sibling
  • Toilet training adventures
  • Heightened imaginative play
  • Emergence of second molars
  • Fears and anxieties, including separation anxiety
  • Language development and increased awareness of their impact on others
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO)
  • Night wakings due to various reasons
2 year old sleep regression

Strategies to Navigate the 2-Year Sleep Regression:

Here are some practical strategies to help parents sail through this sleep regression period:

  1. Nail that bedtime routine: To get things back on track during the toddler sleep regression, you may find my tips in this blog post handy.
  2. Flashcards for Bedtime Routine Issues: Use visual cues to maintain a sense of predictability. Try mine here.
  3. Incorporate Common Requests: Include anticipated requests in your bedtime routine, addressing needs like using the potty or having a last-minute sip of water.
  4. Adjust Nap Schedule Carefully: While it may seem like your toddler is ready to drop the nap, cutting it abruptly might worsen the situation. Be mindful of their readiness. You can get my FREE nap guide here.
  5. Plan for Active Play: Engage in lots of active play to expend their energy during the day. You may want to try introducing ‘heavy work’ activities 2 hours before bedtime to help with self regulation. For more information, check out this awesome site here.
  6. Stay Consistent: Maintain consistency in bedtime routines to provide a sense of security.
  7. Build Feelings of Security: Address separation anxiety by fostering feelings of security and reassurance. This is a beautiful book on separation, I tend to use it in my practice from 3 years+ but if your little one has good understanding then why not try.
  8. Mind Transitions: Be aware of significant transitions, such as moving to a new room or anticipating a sibling’s arrival.
  9. Create a Calm Environment: Establish a calm and soothing bedtime environment to encourage relaxation.
  10. Stay Flexible: As your toddler’s sleep needs evolve, be flexible in adjusting routines.
  11. Anticipate Stalls: You can consider using a timer to help. One of those silly kitchen ones! This helps set some manageable time limits on stalling behaviours!

Handling Bedtime Struggles:

Imagine a bedtime routine made easy for parents and fun for kids! Our tools are designed with little ones in mind, providing visual cues for a smoother transition from day to night.

You can purchase my bedtime flashcard kit to help, it includes:

  • Printable black and white bedtime flashcards (for colouring in!)
  • Printable full colour bedtime flashcards
  • Video guide
  • Step by step written instructions

You can also check out my Bedtime Battles Course! Priced at just £47, the 2 hour course guides you through everything needed to restore bedtimes.

bedtime battles course, 2 year old sleep regression

Consider a Toddler Clock as a Visual Cue

Most families get a sleep training clock (also known as ok to wake clocks) around about the age of 2-3 years old. It’s not suitable for a younger child or baby. They’re often experiencing problems with early morning waking or their toddler getting out of bed! Your little one may also be interested in nighttime or calling out to you in the morning about whether they can get up and out of bed.

2 year old sleep regression

Here’s more on using them effectively in my blog post on toddler clocks.

Adjusting Sleep Schedules:

Offer simple choices and set boundaries to guide your toddler through the transition from an active day to a peaceful night.

Remember, you’re not alone in navigating the 2-year-old sleep regression. By understanding the signs, causes, and implementing practical strategies, you can create a positive sleep environment for both your child and yourself. Sweet dreams are just around the corner!

You can get my guide to toddler sleep issues here.

Still need some help?

I’m here to help! I can tailor advice and plans to your family and situation.

I can help re-establish good bedtime habits and provide tips on how to cope with inevitable nighttime disruptions. I offer tried-and-tested sleep support solutions that are well worth the investment for your whole family.

There’s also my Bedtime Battles course to help you get back on track!

Have a look at my sleep consultant packages or directly get in touch.

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Hi, I’m Gemma, your sleep consultant

I am a certified baby and child sleep specialist who works with families all over the world.

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