2 Year Old Sleep Regression?

I’m convinced sleep is the biggest challenge of parenting. Or at least sleep is the driver of basically all the hardest parenting moments. My reason for this is simple – if you don’t get sleep, everything else feels harder. Being a walking zombie is hard work at the best of times. But, being a walking zombie while caring for a baby/toddler, is possibly one of the hardest things ever.

And, Mr. MPB and I fully acknowledge that Little MPB is typically an amazing sleeper. In fact, on average I’d say he doesn’t sleep well 1 or 2 nights a month.

But, since our little trip to Hawaii, sleep has been some sort of a lost art. First we assumed it was the fall-out from Hawaii and change of routine. In Hawaii we decided to share a bed with Little MPB because it was the only way he’d go to bed and sleep through the night – we made the decision to do this because it meant we all slept which meant we all had a wonderful vacation. And at 2 years old, we are now willing to co-sleep because he’s well beyond the risk of SIDS.

But, when we came home the lack of sleep continued. Little MPB refused to go to sleep in his crib. At night we’d let him whimper until he fell asleep. But then he’d wake up in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder. It would go on for hours, if we’d let it.

So, then I went away. Mr. MPB (rightfully so) decided to bring Little MPB to bed with him when he woke up in the middle of the night screaming. Solo parenting, and not wanting to hear his little boy scream, meant the continuation of our new sleeping arrangements.

But, it wasn’t a long term plan. Or so we thought. Unfortunately the middle of the epic night scream-fests have continued. Which has meant we have googled a lot!

Apparently there is a 2 year old sleep regression, and according to some it’s one of the worst. It can last up to a few months. They say, consistency is key and to keep a very regimented bedtime routine (we do this). They say make sure you child has some sort of lovey – a blanket or a teddy (Little MPB wont take one no matter how hard we’ve tried to get him to). They say provide comfort and then leave the room again – remind them you are there but that they also need to sleep on their own (this only escalates Little MPB’s screaming). Some say it’s time to transition out of hte crib to a toddler bed (we have decided that since he does not attempt to climb out of his crib, we aren’t starting the transition yet).

Gro-Clock Photo Source – http://www.snugglebugz.ca/gro-clock.html

In the end, we bought a Gro-Clock. We had been advised by friends to use the Gro-Clock before we transition Little MPB out of his crib so that he’s used to knowing when it’s morning and when it’s sleep sleep time. But, we thought maybe now was the time to start using it to help him sleep through the night again. So, we’ve been teaching him when the moon is out and the clock is blue, it’s sleepy time. When the sun comes up and turns yellow, it’s morning time. When he’s upset in the middle of the night, we do in and remind him of this, and he tends to settle back down. After 3 nights with the clock, we have seen improvement. We are not holding our breath just yet, but we are hoping that sleep returns to the MPB household.

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17 Comments on “2 Year Old Sleep Regression?

  1. Around two we had a bit of an issue of A waking up in the middle of the night crying inconsolably (like baby mpb, A’s been a great sleeper). I actually think it might have been nightmares. We got him a nightlight as well, but I’d go in and rock him and cuddle with him for 2-3 minutes, then ask him if he was ready to go back in the crib. He almost always said yes. It was nightly, sometimes multiple times a night, for about 2 weeks, and now it’s only occasionally–maybe once a month? If you’re so inclined, we’ve found a plate (Elmo), a spoon (Elmo), action figures (Elmo and co.), and books (starring Elmo), to be adequate substitutes for lovies. Added bonus, it tends to entertain him in the mornings (or causes a repetition of “Dada, the book fell down” 10-15 times before we get him out of his crib). Good luck, as with all things baby, this too shall pass.

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  2. Oh man no fun. We are having some issues with middle of the night wake ups as well, although it’s not always screaming. I agree that sleep is one of the hardest parenting issues. Good luck!

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  3. I have literally just drafted amlmost this exact post! We bought a Gro Clock on Saturday because I am struggling with bedtimes and middle of the night wakings. We’re on day three now also. Definite improvement in bedtimes as she goes running into her bed when the stars come out, but not sure about the wakings yet. Unfortunately Little K is no longer in a cot so happily runs into our room whenever she wakes up… One more hurdle to deal with! Good luck! I hope we all make it through this!

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  4. We have been going through the same regression. Luke has epic screaming fits when being put down for both naps and nighttime. At first we went in there and comforted. I was worried about separation anxiety/nightmares. I spoke with SC in our area who does a free question answer session on Thursday. She assured me that this is a normal thing to-year-olds go through. We have decided it was best to retrain him and I will say his fits are now lasting only a few minutes as opposed to 30 to 45. I hope you guys can figure out a solution that works best for you. You are right sleeping issues are the biggest challenge in parenthood. Good luck!

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  5. I have heard that the 2 year sleep regression can be a real pain the ass. But hopefully the LAST sleep-related pain in the ass!! Transitioning out of the crib was the best thing we ever did for Avery’s sleep.
    One last thought – screaming a really scared sounding scream in the middle of the night COULD be night terrors, although I THINK it’s rare to happen every night. Just another thing to consider alongside regression and nightmares! You’re totally right – sleep issues in babies and toddlers are HARD AF. Wishing you lots of luck to get through this regression quickly and as easily as possible!

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    • Thanks Amy. I really don’t think it’s night terrors because they occur like clockwork – every 2.25 or 3 hours (which makes me think of the baby 45 minute sleep intervals – I’m not sure if i’ts just a coincidence?). But, regardless I don’t think night terrors or even bad dreams would occur on that time schedule. I tend to think he’s just cycling through his sleep and cannot or doesn’t want to put himself back to sleep again.
      I will say that the clock is making such a huge difference so far that I’m thinking that maybe he just wanted to get up and play and couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t agree to his desire for a middle of the night play. Either that, or more likely, he just wanted to come to bed with us for the rest of the night.
      All I know is that this is hands-down the hardest sleep phase we’ve gone through. And I desperately hope we get some good sleep again soon!

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  6. Oh wow I had no idea! Our daughter just turned 2 at the end of January and we’ve been having issues lately too (when we usually have none), I thought it had more to do with the fact that we welcomed baby #2 in November! I’m going to check out this clock, that’s a great idea, especially to introduce before the transition into a big girl bed!

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    • I also had no idea this was a thing!!! Thank god for other mom’s like you telling me it is, it’s so nice to know that these things are normal and often pass eventually. 🙂
      We’ve really liked the clock so far. And it seems to be really helping Little MPB understand sleepy-time vs morning time.
      Although, I will admit, I think they can come up with a better system for working the clock, and you’ll know exactly what I mean when you try to set everything using 3 buttons when the could easily design it to be just slightly more user friendly.

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  7. Argh sleep stuff does my head in. Holly has been doing this lately too. The other night she climbed out of my arms and ran to the lounge room and pointed to the lamp and said “hot” which is her word for “turn the light on”. It’s full on screaming for us too. So hard. We are about 6mths behind you in age. Her bottoms molars are also right there so I’m wondering if it’s that. We are seriously considering a toddler bed but I know that means she will just get up. I might get a clock for when we transition though. I just don’t think we are ready yet. I friend a similar clock for Saxon vit he didn’t give a hoot about it lol Hopefully we have better luck with Holly!! Keep us posted on your progress.

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  8. Sooooo many sleep regressions!!! That does not sound fun at all. This clock looks awesome though! Wishing you lots of luck!

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  9. Miss O has never been a great sleeper (right from the beginning!) but lately she seems to want even less sleep than usual. I am so persistent with naps because she needs them, and I need her to have them! But it takes forever and so much work compared to just two weeks ago. I’ve wondered about getting a gro-clock. Glad to hear it’s making some improvements!

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  10. Sleep regression is the absolute worse!!! 😢And there are so many of them. 🤦🏻‍♀️ It seems like you are doing all the right thing with consistency and stuff. I would also add to make sure he naps well once a day. And that there is at least 5 hours between nap and bedtime. Also move bedtime a little earlier. Sometimes frequent night awakening is a sign of sleep deprivation. I also repeat the bedtime routine in the middle of the night. And tell him I will only return 3 times. And mean it. If all else fails, sleep train again, sigh, not fun, but worth it.

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  11. I have horrible memories of toddlers who don’t sleep. lol. Now, one’s a teen and all he wants to do is sleep! How did this happen? 🙂

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