It’s normal for babies and toddlers to become harder to settle as they start feeling separation anxiety at around 18 months. They may become more clingy, and more resistant to you leaving them at bedtime.
At 18 months of age, your child should be getting around 11-14 hours of sleep every 24 hours. That might take the form of 1 1/2 to 2 hours of napping in the afternoon and 10 to 12 hours of sleep through the night.
While every child can have different personal sleep style and needs, it’s important to aim for a healthy amount of sleep each day, even during a sleep regression. Insufficient sleep can lead to extra tantrums and make it even harder to fall asleep, which isn’t fun for anyone!
- Ensure your toddler has a comfort item like a cuddly or a special blanket or soft toy. These comfort items always help children in times of separation anxiety.
- Try adding a kids night light such as a little belle light as this can be comforting for toddlers. The red light light setting may best as these don't disrupt the production of melatonin.
- Try to stay consistent with your nap routine, don't drop a nap, and try to avoid over tiredness sinking in.
- Be calm and soothing with them and quietly popping back into their room after they've first gone to bed so they know you're still there.
- Having a good sleep schedule and keeping to the same routine will help toddlers know what to expect when it comes to nap- and bedtime, and will help them prepare for sleep.
- Get active during the day. It will be easier for your toddler to sleep at night if they get out their energy during the day. It’s especially beneficial if they get daily exposure to natural light that can contribute to a healthy circadium rythm.
Just as you made it through your child’s 4- and 8-month sleep regressions, have confidence you’ll make it through this. Remain consistent with sleep times and routines and you’ll get back on track with sleep without creating bad habits you’ll have to break.
If nothing else, remember this short window of time offers a great excuse to invest in that fancy coffeemaker you’ve had on your wish list!