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2 year old sleep regression. How to help your toddler through the two year sleep regression. Keep your little one sleeping and napping.
You have worked your child’s entire life on having consistent and healthy naps. You have survived wonder weeks and short naps. You have navigated several naps being dropped over the last couple of years. You may have thought sleep regressions would be behind you as you entered toddler-land. Enter the two year old sleep regression.
A sleep regression is when your child suddenly stops sleeping well. There can be good reasons for regressions, and there are common ages for regressions that have no explanation or cause. Sometimes treating those exact issues can help bring you back to the sleep patterns you are used to.
Guess what. 2 year olds do not typically love to take a nap. Toddler sleep can be hard! Your little one just wants to play. He doesn’t want to stop to go sleep in his toddler bed for a couple of hours. That sounds horrible!
There is an excellent chance your toddler will protest this attempt at sleep. Stay strong! More on that later.
How to handle the 2 year old sleep regression
Here are some things to do and thing to not do when your child is having the two year old sleep regression.
Do Not Drop the Nap
I have written on what to do when your toddler refuses to take a nap. My number one plea with you is do not drop it. Remember there is a regression right now. Things can go back to good with some tweaks and sometimes just with some waiting it out. Keep nap time. A two year old who stops napping will be a three year old who doesn’t nap. Hold strong to the nap.
I cannot even tell you how many people have made this comment to me over the years:
“You are SO LUCKY your three year old still takes a nap! Mine all refused at age two.”
Guess what? Many of my children didn’t want to nap as a 2 year old, either. They also wanted to stay up and play. I had to fight the little cutie to get to nap time. It was not fun. It would have been easier in the moment to throw my hands in the air and allow that little one to just stay up.
But I did not. I stuck with it. I dealt with the grumpy, crying toddler and nap time every day and still headed to that room to tuck him and her in for a nice nap.
Those two year olds who did not want to nap at age two made it through. They still napped at age three (not every day, but most days). They stopped napping at age four but moved to rest time instead.
It was absolutely worth the grumpiness of a two year old.
See What to Do When Your Toddler Refuses to Take a Nap for help.
Do Analyze Wake Time Length
Your toddler might need a little longer waketime length before nap starts. You learned baby sleep is sensitive. You know babies have very sensitive waketime lengths. Toddlers can, too. A toddler might need to be in bed in a ten minute window in order to actually nap that day (I had a toddler like that). Pay attention to your toddler’s needs. I have a handy chart on waketime length for toddlers in this post: Optimal Waketime Lengths for Toddlers. Check out, also, my post on Timing Naps for Toddlers .
Do Consider Teething/Sickness
Your toddler might be having sleep troubles because of teeth coming in or because of sickness. An ear infection can cause sleep problems. A simple cold can lead to poor sleep. I always consider pain or sickness before making a plan of action when sleep issues pop up. If your toddler is waking up because of pain or sickness, nothing else you change is going to help your toddler sleep well.
Do Consider Life Changes
Your toddler might be moving into a new bed, getting a new sibling, or starting a new activity. If your cute 24 month old recently moved to a big kid bed, she might be feeling a little anxious about sleeping in that big bed and might need some time to adjust. Two year olds are often close to welcoming a new sibling to the home (or recently have). Your toddler might have moved to a new room to prepare for a new baby.
If your toddler is potty training, this can cause a lot of sleep regression. Your toddler might be excited to now be able to get out of bed any time to go potty. Your toddler might be nervous to have an accident and is going potty regularly to avoid an accident.
These things can all cause sleep regressions.
Do Have Rules and Consistency
Stay consistent with sleep and with your sleep rules. Your toddler might start testing getting out of bed without permission. Respond in a way to set the stage for good sleep habits long-term. Have bedtime at the same time each night. Have naps at the same time each day. Expect sleep to be a thing in your toddler’s life.
Do Be Aware of the Environment
Is it too hot? Is it too cold? Is the sun breaking through the window? Does your toddler need a blanket? Does your toddler need a pillow? Is your child comfortable sleeping?
The sun can really negatively impact sleep for a toddler. The sun is a signal that life is supposed to be moving. A toddler will see that morning sun coming through the window and want to jump up and play.
I still remember one summer night when my 2.5 year old son was sick in the night. We live in a location where the sun rises very early in the summer. 5 AM meant light outside.
I furiously worked to clean everything up and remake his bed so he could go back to sleep before the sunrise.
I didn’t make it.
The sun came up and he was convinced it was time to get up for the day.
Do Consider Nighttime Fears
Your toddler might be waking up after he falls asleep because of a nightmare or night terror. If this becomes a pattern, fear of these nightmares can make it so your toddler avoids sleep.
There is good news. You can help your child through nightmares and night terrors. There are sometimes very simple things you can do to help avoid these altogether. Read my post on Nightmares vs. Night Terrors: How to Help Your Child Through Each for more on that.
Remember what a sleep regression is like from your baby year? You had four month sleep issues. You faced sleep regressions seemingly every other month. Remember how baby did sleep well, and seemingly for no good reason?
If this poor sleep your toddler is facing right now is a literal regression, there is nothing you can do but wait it out. Sometimes you have to be patient and just wait for your 2 year old to grow out of this regression.
When your two year old is not sleeping well, consider the list of possible factors listed above. The poor sleep might be something you can impact and improve with a little tweak.
In the end, it might just be a regression that you need to wait out. Wait it out and continue on the sleep track with your toddler. While your two year old probably won’t sleep every day consistently ever again, a daily nap is still super important in your toddler’s daily routine. Sleep regressions happen with 2 year olds just as they did babies.
Read More–click on the image to read the post:
- How To Fill Toddler’s Time When Transitioning to One Nap
- Inconsistent Napping
- Toddler/Child Getting Out of Bed
- 2 Year Old Sleep Problems