First, common reasons for sleep regression for kids 18-24 months:

  1. Night terrors
  2. Separation Anxiety
  3. Molars coming in
  4. Disrupted sleeping pattern (vacation/out of house)
  5. Developmental milestones

I think it may be a combination of all of them except night terrors. Over December holiday, we stayed at the in-laws for a few days. Wouldn't nap in his pack and play at all. I made the mistake of cuddling in bed for his 90-120 minute nap for one nap, and laying next to his pack and play in the bed for the other. After we got home, things seemed fine for a few days.

On New Year's Eve, is when things got really bad. He woke up screaming bloody hell in the middle of the night. We let him cry it out for a few minutes, but then it got noticeably worse. Our little angel decided that was a great time to climb out of his crib for the first time.

Since then, he has been getting up every night somewhere between 1am and 5am. He will not go to sleep without attention from us. Different things we've tried over the course of the last two weeks:

  1. Waiting outside his door until he sleeps, then ninja escape.
  2. Waiting in the chair in his room until he sleeps, then ninja escape
  3. Sleeping on the floor in his room until he sleeps, then ninja escape
  4. Letting him cry it out, which lasts for over an hour until we give in to 1, 2, or 3. What isn't fun about this, is that this totally disrupts his older brother's sleep which isn't very fair to him.

Before all of these shenanigans, he usually slept straight through from 8:30pm to 7:00am, with a 2 hour nap during the day. Here is our before bed routine for reference (which has worked for the many months prior):

  1. Diaper
  2. Jammies
  3. Milk
  4. Brush Teeth
  5. Say goodnight to brother
  6. Stories
  7. Crib
  8. Leave right away.

I'm guessing our inconsistency has been hurting the situation, but two weeks in we are at a loss.... help!

  • I’d love to know what worked for you in the end.
    – Sarah
    May 9, 2018 at 15:10
  • We hired a sleep consultant. We ended up with some tough love. Go in there like robots, repeat the sleep rules every fifteen minutes. Can’t stay in there or give in. The first night was the toughest to let him cry it out. It got easier though. May 9, 2018 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


The related questions and answers might be very helpful. I hope you'll look through them.

Inconsistency is definitely the problem that sticks out for me. This is often, like in this example, impossible to prevent. So do not beat yourself up -- stuff happens.

As a behaviourist I say that you should pick your 'battles' very carefully. If your child is keeping you awake and you have to go to work, give into what works best immediately. It may seem counter-intuitive but allowing a child to scream for a long time and then (because you are desperate) you give in, you have cemented a pattern. You have told your child that if they scream for an hour -- two -- more, that they just need to keep on screaming and you will give in.

So, I'd give in temporarily until you have a few nights to let the chips fall where they may. Those nights may well be nearly sleepless for you. The child will work himself up and get red in the face, sweat, and be very unhappy while you take your stand. I am not suggesting leaving your child to cry alone for hours -- but to say things like, "I love you. I am here. Time for sleep." You then return your little guy to bed -- gently and lovingly. Your anger (of course you'll be angry) will not help at all - so do everything in your power to hide it. Time to earn your Oscar. These things usually get much much worse before they get better. It is always better to give in immediately if you cannot 'afford' to go the distance. This is why you have to be careful what battles you choose.

So I think other questions and answers, sites like LINK to Dr. Sears on sleep problems and just picking your moment to fight/sort it out.

I do know how overwhelming it can be to go without sleep, so I also recommend taking turns with your partner. You take 4 hours to sleep and so do they. That means as undisturbed as possible for 4 hours for the sleeping parent. Things like white noise, turn off baby monitor, earplugs -- whatever works for the person trying to sleep, all may work and help you get through this. However, do wake your partner if you are really losing your temper. Spanking, yelling, anger are the exact wrong things to do -- and it's really hard not to be angry. If it gets really bad and it is possible, use a sick day -- but once you start repairing the situation, you cannot go back to letting the child rule.

An illness can put you right back to starting over as do vacations, or other changes. If you must start over and it is not a good time, again -- give in immediately. This teaches the child that his parents are in charge, even if it doesn't seem logical.

(Maybe hire a sitter or call on a relative on a weekend during the day before you start fixing it -- and sleep while they watch your child.)

Best of luck!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .