18 month sleep regression? Nap transition? — The Bump
Toddlers: 12 - 24 Months

18 month sleep regression? Nap transition?

Please, someone help me. DS is 17.5 months old and since he dropped to 1 nap at about 16 months, his sleep has gone to crap. He has never been a great sleeper, and he is very inconsistent, so it's always been hard to get him on a schedule. I expected there to be an adjustment period when transitioning to one nap, but this is just getting ridiculous and it is not getting any better. First, he's been waking up between 4-5 a.m. every morning. Second, he rarely will take a nap longer than an hour. I have always tried schedule naps/bedtime around standard wake times for his age (5-6 hours of wake time right now), but it does mean that his schedule can vary greatly from day to day. I try to keep his mealtimes and other activities as close to a fixed schedule as I can. We have had a solid bedtime routine since the day he was born, and the problem with him has never been falling asleep, it's staying asleep. I know he is capable of soothing himself to sleep because he does it at night, but during naps he just wakes up after about an hour crying and even if I go in to soothe him he will not fall back asleep. This morning he was up at 4:30 a.m., I put him down for a nap at 10:30 a.m., and he was up at 11:30 screaming. So, what, now I'm supposed to put him to bed at 5? A few weeks ago a friend suggested just making him stick to fixed schedule, regardless of wake times and forcing him to adjust, well, that didn't work either. And then in addition to the early morning wake-ups and the short naps, he was SO cranky and miserable all day because he was overtired. I am at a complete loss, and feel like an idiot for not being able to figure this out. No one else I know has had these problems with their toddlers :/ So, what do I do, keep to fixed schedule or continue to be flexible and work with wake times putting him to bed earlier and earlier? It really doesn't seem to matter whether I put him to bed earlier or later, he's up around 4 a.m. regardless.

Re: 18 month sleep regression? Nap transition?

  • Is he sleeping through the night until 4 or so? Just wondering what kind of routine you have when he wakes up. I would be inclined to wait for nap and bedtime a little bit. At that age, 7 pm bed time and 12:30 nap worked well for us and we just stuck with it. 5 PM bed sounds like you're asking for an early wake up. If he's not melting down by then, I would stretch the awake times if needed to make bed and nap time more reasonable. DD was a thumb sucker at that age and never woke up screaming, so she learned that I would come get her when it was time to get up and just waited for me in the mornings. Sorry. Good luck.
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  • He does sleep through the night until he wakes up between 4 and 5. If he wakes up earlier than 5, we'll leave him and he will just roll around and babble a little in his crib until DH comes and gets him shortly after 5. Unfortunately this is not the case with his naps. When he wakes up early from a nap, he screams bloody murder until I come get him and will not go back to sleep. He has pacifiers and a lovey in his crib. I would be all about pushing nap time and bedtime back and just sticking to a fixed nap and bed time, but the thing is, he is melting down and is clearly tired. Yesterday he woke up 4:30 ... I put him in the car at 8 a.m. to go to a weekly mommy-and-me-type class we go to and he was fast asleep in 5 minutes. And yes, he has been a nightmare these past few weeks with this sleep disruption. He's normally very happy, easy-going, and active, but he has been so clingy and melting down over every little thing. You can tell he is just exhausted and a wreck, which is why I try to not push his naps and bedtime longer than a 5-6 hour wake time. *sigh* Hoping this is just a phase?
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  • Sounds like it is likely just a phase. Sorry. Seems like you are doing the best you can. Have you tried not coming right in after nap when he's screaming? Will it just continue or is it possible he would calm down? I would guess if he only screams after nap, it may be that he's still tired and just unsettled. If you could find a way to get him back down, it would probably help the whole day.... Could he be getting new teeth? Is anything waking him up at nap? Maybe some kind of white noise would help keep him calm/drown out sounds. Just throwing out ideas! 
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  • Ok I'm still at my wit's end. The problems of short naps and early wake-ups continue. For about a week he was waking up at 5/5:30, so even though his naps were still short (40 mins-1 hour), I thought maybe we were making progress. Then yesterday he woke up at 5:30 a.m. and took a 2-hour nap from 10:30-12:30 and I thought, "This is it! We're finally moving in the right direction!" WRONG. I put him to bed at about 6:30 last night and he was up at 3:55 a.m. crying. He would not go back sleep, and when I went in there he just wanted to get up and play/talk. He never went back to sleep and has been crying/cranky all morning. WTF am I supposed to do now? Put him down for nap at 9 a.m.? Try to get in 2 naps? I feel like we are SO far away from getting on a consistent schedule, so I don't want to keep being inconsistent. I'd like to keep him napping at 10:30 a.m. at the earliest, then hopefully push it back to closer to 12 eventually, but I can't do that when he is so inconsistent with his morning wakeup and nap lengths. At this point, it's been over 3 months of these problems, so the usual suspects of teething, growth spurts, etc. have to be ruled out. I just want him to get enough sleep. He is a mess and so clingy/cranky/clumsy/easily frustrated when he's tired; I can't stand to see him like that.

    Bottom line: I just want him to get enough sleep and to get on a schedule. At this rate, I can't plan anything for us to do because I'm putting him down for naps/bedtime at drastically different times each day depending on when he wakes in the morning or how short his nap is. When he wakes up early like this we can't go anywhere in the morning because he will fall asleep in the car or stroller as early as 8 a.m. I'm just so lost and feel like a horrible mother and like I'm doing something wrong to cause this. Please help :(
  • If he is waking up before 6am, I'd try to get him down for nap 1 by 10 at the latest but yes maybe even 9am. If he's up by 11am, nap 2 is around 2pm. This is the schedule that works for my son, however he is 15 months and not quite in the 1 nap a day routine. Sometime when he wakes at 7, he will go down for a nap at 1030 and sleeps until 1 so in that case he gets just 1 nap a day. Bottom line is basically that if he doesn't sleep longer than an hour maybe you should keep putting him down for 2 naps, 1 morning and 1 afternoon until the bad sleep phase passes. Have you tried pushing bed time to a little later? 630 isn't super early or anything but our schedule is 730 or 8pm bed time and he usually sleeps until about 7.
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