child development

Do Toddlers Have Sleep Regressions?


When you’re a new parent, you very quickly discover the concept of sleep regressions. This is the concept that babies go through phases where they sleep less well and wake up more often in the night, and that these phases are associated with certain developmental milestones and growth spurts; meaning that there are particular ages when most babies go through a patch of bad sleep. Sleep regression is most associated with the first year or so of a baby’s life. But my experiences with our two year old toddler got me wondering – do toddlers have sleep regressions too? In this blog post, I’ll run through the typical ages for toddler sleep regression, our experience, and how to get through it with your sanity intact!

Do Toddlers Have Sleep Regressions?

Sleep Regression Ages

I’ve written previously about the sleep regression at 8 months (spoiler alert: it’s a doozy). Sleep regressions in babies are commonly said to occur at around 4 months, 8 months and 12 months, although some sources also say they happen at 6 and 10 months as well – at which point they seem so frequent that you have to start wondering whether you’re experiencing a ‘sleep regression’ or just, you know, a baby that’s not great at sleeping.

When I first read about sleep regressions, I only focused on the first twelve months because everything beyond that just seemed so far away. Now Little Man is two-and-a-bit, though, I’ve returned to my reading and found that a lot of sources also list two toddler sleep regressions: one at 14 – 18 months, and one around two years. This definitely fits with our experience over the past year or so!

Toddler Sleep Regression: 18 Months

Around 18 months old, we found that Little Man suddenly went through a real change in how he wanted to go to sleep. Up until then, we had still rocked him to sleep in our arms before putting him in his cot. Then one day, out of the blue… He didn’t want to go to sleep in our arms any more! The slight issue was, he didn’t really know how to go to sleep in his cot either. It took a good few weeks before he consistently got the hang of it, and during that time his bedtimes took soooooo long. It was very frustrating.

According to various sources online, the 18 month toddler sleep regression can be caused by separation anxiety and often manifests as a resistance to bedtime. We didn’t really experience a resistance to bedtime, so much as a shift in Little Man’s needs in how he wanted to get to bed, which I think was to do with the fact that he’d grown bigger and so was less comfortable in our arms. I’m not sure if this is typical for this regression, because Little Man has always been quite small for his age, ever since he arrived three weeks early!

Trains are an essential component of bedtime

Toddler Sleep Regression: 2 Years

We seemed to hit the 2 year old sleep regression a bit early, around the 22 month mark – and the bad news is, it seemed to carry on for about three months or so. Ouch. According to some sources, the two year sleep regression is caused by toddlers’ developing sense of self: they start to develop an awareness that things happen when they’re not there and consequently don’t want to miss out on the fun – a.k.a. a classic case of FOMO. As a result, they start refusing naps and bedtime – and you also then ironically run the risk of them becoming overtired and more difficult to put to sleep.

Little Man has only rarely refused naps, but he had refused bedtime in a big way. When we started trying to leave the room with him in his cot before he’s asleep, we had very mixed results as often (but not always!) he seemed to be drifting off happily enough, only to wake up suddenly and completely about a minute after we left the room.

It’s interesting that the literature says this sleep regression is about fear of missing out, because I’d say in our experience it’s much more about Little Man feeling anxious about being left alone. He struggles much more at bedtime if he’s overtired or feeling a bit under the weather (or teething of course!). And reports from nursery suggest he’s just fine at naptime when there’s lots of other children napping around him (the magic of peer pressure apparently starts at an early age!). He’s usually happy enough to stop playing in the evenings and head upstairs to bed – it’s definitely the ‘being left alone’ part that seems to cause the issue.

I also think that Little Man suffers quite a bit from hypnic jerks – those twitchy muscle movements that make it feel like you’re falling when you’re going to sleep. He’s very twitchy and it would explain the times he randomly starts crying just as it seems that he’s about to really drift off.

How to handle toddler sleep regressions

The bad news is, of course, that I don’t have any magical words of wisdom for other parents going through a toddler sleep regression: all I can offer is sympathy.

All the advice online suggests having a well-established sleep routine; I definitely think that helps, but it’s hardly the solution of the century. All you can do is try to be patient, be consistent and not lose your mind on the days when it feels like you’re spending your whole evening trying to get an obviously tired child to sleep. You can try to work on the separation anxiety and FOMO feelings that might be getting in the way of your toddler settling down to sleep, but there’s not really anything you could do if they’re twitching themselves awake or ending up unsettled due to falling dreams. Even us grown ups sometimes have trouble sleeping and wake up freaked out after a bad dream – I guess it’s not exactly surprising that little ones do too.

child development

The Sleep Regression At 8 Months


When Little Man was about 7 1/2 months old, we went to visit my parents. As they live a couple of hours away, this involved staying over. The little chap slept quite badly the whole weekend, but we weren’t especially surprised as he was in his travel cot which is still an unfamiliar bed for him. But when we got home, he continued to sleep badly even in his own cot. After a week of frequent wake-ups at night, I wondered whether he could be going through a sleep regression.

What is sleep regression in babies?

A sleep regression basically is what it says on the tin: a period of time (usually 3 – 6 weeks) where a baby starts sleeping worse with more wake-ups during the night, and/or trouble settling down to sleep.

Sleep regressions are particularly associated with developmental milestones and growth spurts, so there are some ages when you can more or less expect a patch of bad sleep to come along… And yep, 8 months is one of those ages!

When does sleep regression happen?

Most babies go through their first sleep regression around four months old, which is caused by changes in your baby’s sleep cycles, moving towards a more adult sleeping pattern. We actually didn’t notice that one though! At four months old, Little Man was sleeping so badly anyway that we were already up with him at least 15 times a night thanks to his tummy and colic… So there wasn’t really any capacity for his sleep to get any worse. There’s a strange sort of silver lining…

The next sleep regression is around eight months, although really it can happen any time in the seven to ten months range. And that’s where we’re currently at!

Our experience of the eight month sleep regression

It’s been a mixed bag so far! Little Man has sometimes had trouble settling to sleep at night, and often has been waking up fussing multiple times per night – we’d got used to him only waking once for a feed (or sometimes not at all!) so that has felt like a bit of a shock to the system.

This eight month sleep regression coincided quite closely with Little Man starting to crawl forwards and pull himself up on things. This is apparently often associated with sleep regression, as is the start of separation anxiety, commonly experienced around eight months.

In general I’ve noticed issues much more at night than with his daytime naps, although we have had a couple of incidents of naptime meltdowns and nap refusal. In fact, overall I’d say he’s actually been napping longer during the day (presumably to make up for the night time deficit!). However at times he is doing two very very long naps rather than three shorter naps in one day. That can be difficult to predict, and it’s often difficult to know whether or not he will want a third nap!

We’re probably almost four weeks in and things are just starting to improve again, which is positive. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we’re back to getting a reasonable night’s sleep most nights…

Tips For Parents

So what are my tips for sleep regression? I guess focus on the positives: although Little Man is waking up much more than he was a month ago, it’s still nowhere near as bad as he was around 5 months old with his colic, or in the very early newborn stage when they need to feed constantly.

I’ve also written previously about our white noise machine and how useful it is at soothing Little Man to sleep. It’s also something I’d recommend to any parents going through a sleep regression! The white noise owl has a noise sensor, and it turns the nose on automatically if it senses baby making noise in the night. This has been so invaluable over the last few weeks – sometimes I’ve been woken by the sound of Little Man fussing in the night, but once his white noise comes on, he’s happily settled back down to sleep and I’ve not needed to get up at all! Of course, it doesn’t work every time, but I definitely recommend getting a white noise machine if you don’t have one.

baby · child development · parenting · sleeping

Why Do Babies Love White Noise?


Before Little Man was born, my lovely sister gave us a gift of an Ollie the Owl. If you’re not familiar with the strigiforme in question, it’s marketed as a ‘light and sound sleep aid’ for babies. It plays lullabies, white noise, or the sound of a heartbeat or running water, to help babies get to sleep, and it has a ‘cry sensor’ that puts the noise back on if they wake up or stir.

When we first tried Ollie (now known in our household as Mr Owl… What can I say, we’re very formal people), we were amazed at how well Little Man went to sleep with the sound on, in particular the white noise sound. Now, he’s a bedtime and naptime regular! But why do babies love white noise? And does it really help them sleep? I love finding out about child and baby development, so I had to get on Google.

Why Do Babies Love White Noise?

White Noise = Womb Noise

The general consensus seems to be that white noise mimics the kind of noise that babies hear in the womb. The uterus is actually a surprisingly noisy place for baby. A study found noise levels of 72 – 88 decibels in the womb, which is classed as “loud” by the American Academy of Audiology, and equivalent to the noise produced by alarm clocks, traffic or vacuum cleaners.

A lot of noise is produced by the mother’s heart, intestines and circulatory system, and the foetus can also hear external sounds as well. One study has even suggested that our early exposure to our mother’s bodily noises may be the root cause of our attraction to the sound of waves at the beach, as well as our innate sense of rhythm.

So when baby comes into the world, things suddenly get a lot quieter. White noise machines help to mimic that background noise of the womb, and help them to feel soothed.

child development · colic

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child: Thank You


We’ve been having a pretty bad time the last couple of weeks with Little Man. He has long had bad trouble with wind that wakes him up at night and upsets him regularly. But his teething has now got really bad as well.

We’re currently struggling to feed him at all, because any time the bottle goes near his mouth, he goes through the roof, even with having given him Calpol and teething gel – which obviously we can’t give every feed. Plus it’s waking him up every 40 – 60 minutes throughout the night, so we’re seriously missing out on sleep as well, and thanks to lockdown we don’t have access to any external or family support that we would normally have. So it’s tough. And it means stressing that I’m not doing a good enough job… The classic mum guilt.

One thing that is really positive though is all the help that we’ve had from friends and family who have shared some great tips and ideas for things that might help. Ideas from using a teething glove, to freezing ice cubes out of formula to rub on sore gums, to trying herbal teething powders or teas, and trying the next year size up, have all come from our friends, family and colleagues. Even if they don’t all work, at least we can feel like we’re being proactive in how we’re trying to deal with it and help the poor little dude.

It’s especially appreciated at this time. Normally, I would be going to baby groups and socialising with other mums and chatting about what they do or what products they use, but I can’t do that at the moment thanks to the lockdown. It can feel really isolating. So I really want to thank everyone who’s taken the time to share their experiences and their advice. Not only is it really useful, but it makes me feel better to know that other people have had the same issues. When you’re stuck in the house with a crying baby who won’t eat or sleep, it’s easy to get worried about what is it isn’t normal. It really brings to mind the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. We’re very lucky to have you all in our village.

So thank you, everyone. And thanks also to everyone who’s just checked in on us or let us have a rant or even sent a gift. These are weird and challenging times to have a new baby, as if having a baby wasn’t weird and challenging enough…

baby · parenting · sleeping

Baby Sleeping Better. Mama Sleeping Worse.


When you have a baby, everyone always asks about their sleeping and how many feeds they need in the night. For quite a long time now, Little Man has had a feed around 2 – 3am and then not needed another until 7 – 8am. Sounds great! Except he has such bad tummy troubles that we get woken up regularly with those, instead of feeding. Usually he manages to get through to the 2am feed either without waking or with just one waking, but after that it’s frequent wakings through to the next feed, waking up crying and needing to be winded, burping, farting, and vomiting on us until he feels better and can go back to sleep.

Now the past couple of weeks, we’ve had what should, on the face of it, be an improvement. He’s not waking up crying with wind anything like as much as he used to. Instead he’s developed a weird habit of lifting both legs up in his sleep and slamming them down, which appears to be his own unique way of getting those farts out, and generally making fussy noises and wriggling… All while pretty much asleep.

Usually when this happens he doesn’t need anything more than me to pick up his dummy and maybe switch on his white noise owl (Ollie the Owl, a godsend gift from my lovely sister) for him to fall back into a deep sleep. But it’s often happening pretty much every twenty to forty minutes for several hours towards the end of the night, so I am constantly up and down with him and it is so tiring!

Plus to add insult to injury, his teething has got much worse lately – so often when he’s semi-awake like this, he starts chewing on one hand, and unless I intervene by taking away his hand, giving him his dummy and rubbing his belly until he goes back to sleep properly, he ends up waking up screaming because he’s bitten his hand too hard. Urgh. Sometimes I’m too slow getting to him and he’s already woken himself up a bit chewing on his hand, so then I have to hold him until he falls asleep and then attempt to transfer him into the cot without waking him up, which feels like a Krypton Factor challenge.

I’m hoping that to some extent, as far as his tummy goes, this is a good thing – a sign that his stomach is starting to improve, so his colic is lessening and he can get more wind out without needing our intervention, but from my perspective it’s definitely a case of things getting worse before they get better! Plus, once the teething is added into the mix, it’s absolutely exhausting. Fingers crossed things start to improve soon…

At the moment, I’m feeling like I’m Daytime Mum (stressed out, sleep-deprived) all around the clock and Evening Mum (relaxing in front of the telly with a glass of wine) never gets a look in… I’m also struggling to sleep myself, which I think is related to my post-partum thyroiditis as I seem to be finding it difficult to fall asleep even when I’m really tired. At this point, I’m willing to try pretty much anything to get some sleep, even trying some sleep aid products


Baby Parenting Hacks I Wish I’d Found Out Sooner


So Little Man is now four months old, which is hard to believe! And I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned in four months of being a parent, and some of the tricks I know now, that I wish I’d known four months ago. So the time seemed ripe for a blog post about it…

The Hold

We discovered this when Little Man was nearly three months old, which was a shame because it meant I found him a bit big to actually use it. Basically it’s a way of holding a young baby that is very effective at soothing them. My husband found it really effective with Little Man, but I do think it’s easier if you have big hands! It would have been super useful when the little dude was really tiny and screaming the house down.

The Magic of Horsey Rides

This is a discovery from the last month or so which I wish I’d found sooner! Basically, sitting Little Man on my knee and gently bouncing him for a ‘horsey ride’ (ideally with sound effects included, and/or the silly Horsey Ride Song which I’ve made up) is incredibly soothing for him. It’s a great way to chill him out when he’s being really grumpy.

The Chill Wind

Little Man is a baby boy, and as we discovered to our detriment, apparently baby boys have this reflex which means that there incredibly likely to pee when you take off their nappy and the cold air hits them. Consequently for some time, nappy changes were like a weird, very damp game of dodgeball, with me and my husband leaping out of the way of wee jets at regular intervals, and the little dude managing to pee on his own face on more than one occasion.

Then we discovered that if you opened the nappy to let some cool air in, and even blow into the opened nappy, before shutting it up quickly, it usually helps to make him pee before the main nappy change takes place! According to the internet, this is called the “cold activation method“, which sounds very sciencey indeed.

The Try Before You Buy

I’m due a rant about baby clothes any time now, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. It’s not really a hack per se, but just having the knowledge and forethought to check how baby clothes fasten before buying them. Poppers = okay. Zips = better. Hundreds of tiny buttons = every parent’s nightmare at nappy change time!

The Peg Swaddle

Okay, bear with me on this one. When Little Man was a teeny baby, we got into swaddling him to help him sleep (in line with safe swaddling guidance). However, once he got to about three months old, he was strong enough to sometimes be able to partially escape from the swaddle during the course of the night, so we stopped swaddling as there was a risk of him ending up tangled in blankets or with the blanket on his face. I was worried that he wouldn’t go to sleep well once we stopped, but actually he transitioned fine and would fall asleep happily without the swaddle.

At least… Until a week or two ago, when he developed a bad habit of fussing at his face with his hands. I think it’s a combination of teething and itchy eyes from hayfever. When he’s sleepy, he will fuss like mad, poke his own face, bite his fingers, pull out his dummy and then cry because he’s hurting himself. Understandably, this makes it very difficult for him to fall asleep!

We were staying to lose both our minds and a lot of sleep as a result of this, because it was just so hard to get him to fall asleep. Then I invented the peg swaddle! I basically wrap him up in a blanket as if he were being swaddled, but crucially don’t tuck any part of the blanket underneath him. I fasten it at the side with a peg. It keeps his arms away from his face and allows him to fall asleep. Then when he’s sleeping soundly, I undo the peg, open out the blanket and tuck the ends underneath the mattress so there’s no loose covers. Obviously we only use this when he’s supervised, but it’s just such a useful trick for getting him to fall asleep!

There’s actually quite a few more that I can think of, but in the interests of making sure this isn’t the longest post ever, I’ll save them for another time…