When I was anxiously counting down the days to my son's arrival, I couldn't wait to see his face. Once he was born, I couldn't wait to go to sleep. Then, as his first birthday loomed on the horizon, I couldn't wait for him to sleep through the night. After talking with my friends who were also parents, it became clear that worrying about baby's bedtime habits is a universally shared concern. Among the many questions you likely ask yourself, you might be curious about what sleep milestones a baby should reach at 18 months. After all, it's totally normal to wonder where your little one lands in terms of achieving developmental landmarks.
From rolling over and eating solid foods to walking and talking, the first year and a half of your child's life is full of moments to write about in a baby book or capture on video. But when it comes to the milestones that don't rank quite as high on the adorable chart — such as potty training, sleeping, and saying their first curse word — the whole experience can be a bit nerve-wracking. So if you're curious to see which sleeping benchmarks your little one should reach at 18 months, then check out these milestones.
1. They Nap Less
When your baby was a newborn, they probably spent more time asleep than awake. But once they're about 18 months old, that's not really the case anymore. As clinical social worker and author Kim West told Parenting, you can expect your child to take one na at 18 months instead of two. Though less napping in the day might mean less free time for you, it could be your ticket to sleeping longer overnight.
2. They Start To Climb
It might be time to invest in a gate or lower the mattress. According to the Baby Center, "between 18 and 24 months, some children start climbing out of their crib." It might be scary, but this is actually a good sign that your child's motor skills and sense of independence are developing right on track.
3. They Regress
Going backwards seems like the opposite of reaching a milestone, I know. But according to the Baby Sleep Site, sleep regression in an 18 month old is common and indicates a progress in their behavioral and emotional skills. Tantrums and interrupted sleep aren't fun, but the silver lining is that they're completely normal.
4. Their Total Sleep Time Drops
According to Parents, the average 18 month old should be sleeping a total of 11 to 14 hours. That's about a third less than they slept as a newborn. The key difference here is that a newborn sleeps with lots of interruptions whereas an 18 month old should have a clear separation of sleep between bed time and nap time.
5. They Dream In Detail
Up until this point, your little one hasn't had the cognitive skills to actually have bad dreams. But that's about to change. According to the Baby Center, at 18 months, nightmares and night terrors can occur. Again, this may not seem like a super happy milestone, but you have to look at the developmental implications behind it. This means your child can imagine scenarios, comprehend danger, and is beginning to understand the difference between dreams and reality, as the Baby Center also noted.