The 18 Month Sleep Progression
After a tough night in my house, I thought to myself, oh my goodness, we are headed for the 18 Month progression much sooner than I would like to admit! It was something that I wasn’t able to escape with my older two, and I’m certain it will be much the same for my youngest who is now 15 months. I am starting to see some of the signs already, he has been asserting his wants and needs much more, he has already cut his molars, and trying hard to express himself verbally. He is a very strong willed little boy, and “passionate” when faced with challenges, our boundaries that are placed in his way! Another aspect of the sleep progression is separation anxiety, which also has a peak at 18 months. Oh, and we are headed into cold and flu season here, so that may also play a role in sleep for us in the coming months! Here are some of my suggestions to help navigate this potential storm!
- Routine, Routine, Routine!
When life gets crazy for our little ones, remember that their daily routine and the consistency of it, is comforting for them. They may be trying to push the boundaries around naps, or refusing naps and or meals, but do not despair, and continue to try and maintain the routine. During this progression, it is likely that your little one will be napping once per day, and they are not working on dropping this nap just yet! You will likely see some nap protest during this time (and possibly again around 24 months). Doing your best to maintain bed time routine is also critical to ensuring the sleep protest aspect of this progression is short lived!
- Increase connection
This is a tough progression because you are entering new toddler territory, with a little one who has yet to develop a pre frontal cortex (meaning that reasoning, logic, problem solving and impulsivity have yet to develop). Combine all of this with separation anxiety, and you have a toddler just starving for more connection with his/her loved ones. This is the perfect opportunity to work on practicing those new skills. Looking at books together, working on puzzles, building with blocks, building forts and rough and tumble play. Try to think of all the ways your little one enjoys playing, and work on filling up their cup in new and exciting ways. This is especially important before bed time. I talk often about bridging the separation, and helping your little one focus on the next connection instead of the separation that is bed time.
Another thing I love about this age is that they truly start to get excited about toys and special items. Consider taking your little one shopping for a special lovey, a teddy that they hang onto when they are worried about being separated, or during night time. It doesn’t need to be big or exciting, any little toy can become of sentimental value if you give it the right attention.
- Get outside!
There really isn’t many problems fresh air can’t solve, at least in the short term! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll often hear me talking about using fresh air for teething pain, stubborn colds, missed naps, nap transitions, boredom, siblings fighting, the list goes on! Everyone can benefit from some fresh air, moving your body outside, getting in some quality playtime away from devices also increases connection and does wonders for bed time. Also, at this age, everything outside is SO new and exciting, so you really can’t go wrong by just a simple walk together outside.
The 18 Month progression can be a very trying time, but as you know from previous progressions, that it won’t last too long! Having a great foundation for sleep, balanced with routine, connection and time outside, you will be back on track within a couple weeks!