Toddler Sleep Regression, Get Your Sleep Back

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Little Goose has always been a great sleeper.  She was sleeping eight hours a night by the time she was two months old. I am very lucky I KNOW.  Six months to a year ago my sweet Little Goose went through a serious phase of sleep regression.  It was bad, really bad. She was 2 1/2 at the time, it lasted about two months. I don’t know about you but I seriously need my sleep.

I would put her down to sleep in the eight o’clock hour.  She would wake up EVERY NIGHT around one o’clock crying.  I would go in there to soothe her, for about 20 minutes, and then leave.  Each time I would leave she would cry.  I’m all for her “crying it out”  to a point, but there are other people in the house that need to sleep.  This would go on for an hour sometimes 2-3 hours.  I was seriously at my whits end.  I turned to friends for help.

List of suggestions from friends:

  • Don’t give her any sugar 3-4 hours before bed including juice or chocolate milk.  Apparently sugar can cause nightmares, and that could be why she is waking up.
  • Avoid screen time 2 hours before bed.  This helps the mind and body calm itself.
  • Lock her door. Lock her in her room if she gets out of her bed.
  • Keep her up an hour later so that she is extremely tired.
  • Give her Melatonin… A surprising amount of friends agreed on this too.

ME: Um what? No, I’ve read some things, she is too little for that.

  • Get rid of her afternoon nap.

ME: DONE, she hasn’t been napping. **UPDATE: she is back to loving her mid after noon nap. Thank goodness. I know a lot of toddlers stop napping at her age (almost 3) I am very lucky, I KNOW. **

  • Dont acknowledge her when she is awake.  Just walk her back to bed and leave the room.
  • Tart Cherries for a natural Melatonin.
  • Get her a noise maker/white noise.

ME: Done, she has had this noise maker since 2 weeks old. Between my people going in and out of our house and dogs, our house can be pretty noisy.

Suggestions from her Pediatrician:

  1. Is she full before bedtime?
    • ME: YES
  2. Does she self soothe?
    • ME: KINDA – when she goes down at eight o’clock yes.  Middle of the night- not really.
  3. Is she using a noise maker?
    • ME: YES- we use this one.  I love it because it can also run on batteries.
  4. Does she have a baby or animal to keep her feeling safe and to help with soothing?
    • ME: YES
  5. Is she warm?
    • ME: YES, or so I thought.
    • Her Suggestion: Make her warmer.  Put her top and bottom pajamas on, on top of that put footie fleece pajamas, or a sleep sack, and then blankets, and see if this helps.
  6. Lock her door.
    • ME: UMMM… reluctantly… OK
    • Her Suggestions: You have to look at it differently, you have done all you can to help her sleep.  You are doing it for a safety and for health.  You know she is safe if she is in her room, she can’t fall down the stairs or go exploring in the house.  You both need sleep to be healthy.
      • Go buy one of those locks that go around the door knob.  Each night when you put her down you have to reiterate the consequences if she gets out of bed.
      • EXAMPLE: You say something  like. “If you get out of your bed, I am going to lock your door.”  *gets out of bed* walk her back to her room, put her blankets over her, lock her door, and say “Your door is now locked, if you get out of your bed again, I am going to take away your babies.”  *gets out of bed again* You walk her back to her bed, put her blankets over her and say “Your door is locked, baby gets to sleep with Mommy now because you got out of your bed. If you get out of your bed again I am going to take your night light.” And so on. Her Pediatrician said you literally have to plan for EVERY step because your child will test you.
      • Consistency is key to regaining your sleep. It will take a few nights but she is smart and she will get it.
  7. Reward good behavior.  She suggested something cheap like gum or a small piece of chocolate too. Kids her age don’t chew gum more than ten times before spitting it out. Chocolate is better for their teeth than gummies.
    • ME: I am already doing this with stickers, if she stays all night she gets a sticker.  She loves stickers so this was fine for us.

So here we go.

When I left the pediatritians office we went straight to the store and bought these door locks, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, bubble gum, and footie pajamas.  (What can I say, I’m desperate at this point.)  I talked about Little Goose’s new bedtime routine to her all day. I kept saying things like “I am so excited for you to stay in your bed all night so you can get a prize!” “Remember if you get out of your bed we have to lock your door now.” She would get just as excited  and agree with me each time. When we got home I put the lock on her door to show her how it works.  I had her test it so she for sure knew that she wouldn’t be able to open it during the night.

That night, I put her down for bed around 8 o’clock, made sure she was super warm.  Around 1 o’clock she woke up, comes into my room as usual.  I walk her back to her bed and tell her to stay, I remind her if she gets out of her bed I am going to lock her door. I leave the room. I have a slight freak out inside because I know how this goes.  I stay by her door.  Sure enough she cries, gets out of her bed and opens the door. This time I walk her back to bed and say to her, “I’m so sad that you got out of you bed, now Mommy has to lock the door. Stay in your bed and go to sleep. You are safe and loved. Sleep good.” I put the lock on her door and left the room.  She cries and runs to test the door. Sure enough she can not get out now.  She goes back to her bed, cries for probably a minute and stops and puts herself back to sleep.


I gave her a prize in the morning because this was some awesome progress.

The next 2 nights were the exact same thing. The 4th night she stayed in her bed ALL NIGHT! She has been staying in bed all night since.  Unless she is sick or needs to use the potty, even then she puts herself to bed no problem.  I’m so glad it never had to escalate to taking away her babies or her nightlight and so on.

Sleep regression is so hard! If you have never experienced this, you are very lucky, and I hope you never have to.

If you are currently going through this, YOU GOT THIS.  It is really hard but luckily it is just a phase and will be over in a few months. Drop a comment below on how you are dealing with this currently.

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♥Stay Beautiful♥


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