Toddler Sleep Battles

I thought the sleep wars would be over within the first year of my daughter’s life, but right now, one of my biggest struggles is getting her out of our bed! The girl has taken over completely. She wants to fall asleep in there and stay there. Our bed is even her preferred spot for daytime naps!

I never quite expected this with her, because by 6 months, I was bragging that she was comfortable to fall asleep on her own and in her OWN cot – serves me right! She has made a 360-turn and wants to fall asleep WITH me in the bed, and on some days prefers to fall asleep on my chest. One of the consequences of this is that I’m the one who actually falls asleep while trying to put her to bed! So I’m not getting a chance to get some extra work done (thankfully I’m not studying at the moment), catch up with the Hubs or get some alone-time to watch shallow reality-TV.

At the same time, I’m not quite ready for her to be out of our room yet – am I enabling this behaviour? Possibly; but I strongly feel like she’s too small to be down the corridor on her own, technology and all 🙁 I just want her to sleep in her own cot.

If I think back carefully, this new habit came about when we moved into a new house, because straightaway, I noticed that she become quite clingy and uncomfortable in the unfamiliar territory. She then started waking up a few times a night, calling my name, so I would (naturally) end up letting her into our bed. She is now completely well settled and navigating the house as she pleases, but has conveniently held onto this sneaky sleeping habit.

 

Turning 18 months comes with BIG changes for a toddler

In her defense, this disruption is not completely her fault. Our house-move coincided with the close timing of a very big milestone in a toddler’s life – turning 18 months, which happened in September.

At 18 months, many toddlers start getting separation anxiety and regressing on their good sleeping routines. During this round of development, they become more aware of things and start wanting some independence.

They start noticing that you leave them to go to somewhere for a couple of hours, if you are a working mom; or when you’re about to leave them at Gogo’s house. In my case, my daughter clings to me when we visit my mom, because she automatically suspects that I might leave her there.

18-monthers also rebel on sleep and want to control their own routine.

 

Signs your child might be regressing on sleep:

  • Increased night waking although they’re not hungry or sick
  • Staying up for long periods when they do wake up at night
  • Less or shorter naps

 

I always say that the seven year age gap between my children gave me some serious amnesia because I cant remember going through this with my son, but I’m pretty sure I must have! The good news is that sleep regression is normally temporary. Don’t be tempted to try and stop their daytime naps, toddlers need naps. Try to remain calm and consistent with your routine.

I don’t have an immediate plan or way forward from this point, but I’m going to try and enforce some healthier sleeping habits. For instance, tonight I let her fall asleep in my bed, but I wasn’t physically lying next to her. It’s small but it’s progress. If you have some tips to share with me, now is not the time to be shy!

Modern Zulu Mom

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