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The two year sleep regression: what you need to know

What? You mean nobody told you about the two year sleep regression? That gem that occurs just as baby starts to sleep in some kind of reliable pattern (teething and illness allowing)? No? Oh dear. Well, as with anything when it comes to kids, the two year sleep regression may or may not be a thing. For most families, it happens. For some it doesn't. And yes, we're aware that doesn't really help a lot! Here is a very quick guide to it all. The two year sleep regression: what you need to know...

The two year sleep regression: what you need to

There e many reasons why your two year old stops sleeping well...

Unfortunately, as they get older babies become only slightly less confusing. Now that they can communicate a little more effectively with you, there is likely to be a few more reasons why they wake at night. These the main culprits:

  • Separation anxiety
  • No naps
  • Transitions
  • Nightmares

Any of these combined will result in less sleep for you and your toddler. So how to spot the two year sleep regression?

Your toddler needs more awake time now

Yep, I'm afraid it's true. Your toddler needs more awake time now, and chances are high that much of the awake time is spent on full speed. So although they are awake for longer, they are using up a LOT of energy, often resulting in feeling tired at the end of the day. And thus begins the cycle of not wanting to go to bed. Despite being very tired (and probably cranky) your toddler is a strong willed individual who will tell you in no uncertain terms that she does NOT want to go to sleep thank you very much.  So its important to know how much sleep she really does need. And that's 12 hours a day.  Any less and she will be over tired.

So if your two year old suddenly starts to fight bedtime, wakes in the night after previously sleeping through and suddenly decides to drop naps- that could be the regression.


Separation anxiety

Just as when your toddler was a baby, around the age of two she will suddenly start to realise that there are real dangers in the world. So fear of being left alone, fear of you never returning, fear of the dark, even fear of missing out can all contribute towards the sleep regression. Try to be consistent with your todddler- reassure her as much as you can and be patient. This will pass, eventually.

No naps

Despite the experts agreeing that most 3-4 year olds still need a daytime nap, many two year olds take matters into their own hands and decide to veto it altogether. This can result in being over tired and waking at night. If your toddler refuses to nap, try encouraging quiet time instead so that she at least rests during the day.


Now is the time for lots of change, all of which can affect sleep. Potty training,  moving from a cot to a bed, new baby etc. All of these are major events for your little one and bound to affect sleep. Read more on potty training here, and moving to a new bed here. 


Now that your two year old is a little older and a lot more aware, nightmares can be an issue for some. Read more on how to tackle them here.

How to cope

The best thing that you can do is to ride it out. Most phases are just that- a phase, that shall pass soon. Do what you can to remain consistent and confident in your approach to the regression and remember that you are an amazing parent. Good luck!

Do you have any tips to share?


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