Sleep regressions have become a regular part of the overall parenting vernacular. So, now that we've put a name to the horrible thing that happens when you're seemingly easy-to-bed baby decides to forego sleep for an undisclosed amount of time, it's time to combat the notion that only babies experience sleep regressions. So, if you've staring your baby's second birthday in the face and asking yourself, "Can 2-year-olds have sleep regressions?" prepare yourself. Turns out, you poor, sleep-deprived parent you, the answer is a resounding "yes."
First thing's first, of course: what exactly are sleep regressions? According to The Baby Sleep Site, a sleep regression is defined as, "a period of time (anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps (or waking early from naps) for no apparent reason." Thankfully, however, Emily DeJou of The Baby Sleep Site lists the 2-year-old sleep regression as the final official sleep regression. So the bad news? Yes, 2-year-old toddlers can have sleep regressions. The good news, however, is that the 2-year-old sleep regression will probably be the last sleep hurdle you'll have to clear. A consistent sleep schedule that will never be interrupted for as long as your baby sleeps under your roof? You guys, that's the dream!
The Baby Sleep Site lists a number of reasons why 2-year-olds may be suffering from a sleep regression, including nightmares, longer waking time, normal life transitions, and early potty training that can present a change in what a toddler has come to think of as a set schedule and/or routine.
The same site, however, urges parents to, "be careful about chalking everything up to this sleep regression (or any other regression phase, for that matter!) If you’ve spent the last year and a half waiting for your “baby” to outgrow her poor sleep habits, you’re dealing with more than just a sleep regression."
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and their sister site HealthyChildren.org, don't specifically address the 2-year-old sleep regression. It's a safe bet, however, that you should check with your child's pediatrician if you have any concerns about an abrupt change in their sleep.
When you make that appointment with your child's pediatrician, the National Sleep Foundation's Melisa Moore, Ph.D., says, "Describe your worries openly. Often in sleep medicine, the details will help the doctor make the best plan for your child. Additionally, you should discuss any concerns about your child's growth and development, feeding (including reflux), ear infections, eczema, or other health concerns that could impact your child's sleep." Being open about the details of your child's sleep difficulties will help their pediatrician evaluate whether or not your child needs further specialized treatment.
As for how to help your kiddo with this terrible toddler sleep trouble? Parenting has all sorts of helpful hints, including the following:
"Try adding yoga after bath time and pajamas but before reading a story. Participate with your child, so the two of you are relaxing together."
Parenting also encourages parents to be consistent when setting bedtime boundaries, saying, "(O)nce you've said 'one more,' that's it. She may plead or whimper, but you'll both be better off if you can stay firm. Say goodnight and mean it." In other words, stick with what's been working for the last two years (give or take), and remember: this is probably the last sleep regression you'll ever have to deal with. #ParentingWin