When it comes to regressions the 2-year-old one is a doozy. As a mom of 4 kids and a sleep consultant, I have lots of experience with this age and all of the sleep setbacks that come along with it. Trying to get through the 2-year-old sleep regression can test any parent’s mettle and like anything else difficult we just want to know when it will end! I can’t tell you exactly how long it will last but I can give you some information on what is happening and how you can make your way through it with less difficulty. So how long does the 2-year-old sleep regression last? Well, let’s go through some high points.
2 Year Olds and Sleep
For the last 2 years of your child’s life, you’ve probably been concerned about feeding, sleeping, and daily schedule am I, right? One of the initial things we do when we first hold our precious baby is feed them, then because we’re all so exhausted we want to go to sleep and these 2 things become something we obsess over. Watching the clock for feeds, watching the clock for naps, how much food is the baby getting, how much sleep is the baby getting? Over the last 2 years, you may have found a schedule that works, your child is growing and developing and you finally feel like you’ve arrived! Enter the toddler years. Our kids like to keep us on our toes and by the time they’re a toddler that becomes the number one priority. A sleep schedule is essential for this age but for some different reasons than an infant.
2 Year Old Schedule
Wake 7 am
Nap 12-2 pm
Bedtime 7 pm
Seems pretty straightforward right? Well if you’re reading this then you’ve probably realized nothing about a toddler is straightforward. It can be important to keep their wake-up time to within no more than an hour each day. Toddlers thrive on consistency. Most 2 to 3 year olds still need a nap but if you start noticing that it’s interfering with bedtime you may need to start shortening it by 30 minutes. An early bedtime is still very important for kids this age. 11-12 hours of sleep is best for these busy little tornados so don’t be tempted to move bedtime back if they start fighting bedtime. Toddlers do very well with set schedules because they like predictability. Your toddler has very little control over anything in their world. When they know what’s coming next it eases battles and helps keep the balance of power on your side of the court.
The 2-Year-Old Sleep Regression and Behavior
Your sweet 2-year-old wants to do all the things and try all of the things. They want to be independent but they also might never want you out of their sight. It can make for a wild ride of emotions! As a parent here are a few things you can do to help your toddler feel secure during the day which will translate to easier bedtimes.
- Give them choices but hold firm to your boundaries
- Earn credibility but doing what you say when you say it
- Be consistent in your daily schedule as much as possible to give them security
- Make your expectations clear and simple
- Decrease screen time during the day and cut off screens an hour before bedtime
Your child is counting on you to tell them when they can and can’t do things. Sometimes the answer needs to be no and even though they will push back and be unhappy it’s much better in the long run if you can stick to your guns.
How Long Does the 2-Year-Old Regression Last?
Having an end in sight can make things feel much more manageable. The bad news is that there’s not really an answer to this question. If your 2-year-old is waking up at night look at the length of their nap. If naptime is appropriate then you are most likely going to look at behavior. Pushing boundaries is a very normal part of growth and development. Your job is to be calm (I know, I know) consistent, and build credibility.
If your little one is fighting bedtime, getting up at night, having long periods of awake time, or waking up early it’s most likely a boundary-pushing, attention-seeking strategy as opposed to a physical problem. However, you can have their iron and magnesium levels checked. Ask their doctor to look at their sinuses and tonsils. Does your child snore or mouth breathe? All of these things may be an indicator of a non-behavioral issue. Parenting is not easy, each child is a bag of puzzle pieces and it’s our job to try to put all the pieces together.
Contact me for a free 15-minute sleep assessment so we can get your family back on track. The toddler years are fun, happy, and very tricky. I’m here to help!