Author Topic: 18 MO sleep regression and terrible mood: how to get through it?  (Read 933 times)

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Offline Palmira78

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Our DS (now 17MO) was sleeping quite well for the last months, waking perhaps once per night for a few minutes, but suddenly everything has gone wrong. For bed time, I used to place him in bed awake, I stayed next to him in the room, and after 5 minutes he fell asleep without any problem. He slept from 8.00 pm to 7.30am. For nap time, he used to fuss a little bit more but was consistently sleeping 2 hours, from 1pm to 3pm.
The thing is that recently he is taking longer to fall asleed. During the NW he is screaming like mad, waking more often and taking longer to get back to sleep. When he wakes he is trying to pronounce words, requesting me to bring him things to the crib like books... We have tried to give him some pain killers since his molars and canines are about to get out. But it does not seem to help at all.
During the day he is really cranky and crying for anything. Sometimes it is almost unbearable to keep calm since he is getting furious for anything and nothing. However he behaves fine in the kindergarten, which then makes me feel that he keeps the tears and screaming just for the family.
I have read a lot about the 18 months regression, but not sure what to do about it. He is taking longer to fall asleep, so I wonder if we should delay the bedtime. The other thing is that when he wakes in the night he needs that we hold his hand to fall asleep again. If we are lucky it does not take too long. Otherwise the crying gets worse and he gets more and more upset.
I have read in a website that we should wait for 5 minutes before going to see him. Isn´t it almost let him cry it out?
I read that this will go away, however any tips to get through this? 
Your support and advice will be very much appreciated…

Offline ginger428

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Re: 18 MO sleep regression and terrible mood: how to get through it?
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2017, 19:33:40 pm »
Hugs Palmira, I know this is a tough stage.

As you probably know, BW does not support any CIO. This age is particularly challenging because of development and changing sleep needs. It's apparent he is developing verbally and that definitely disrupts sleep (in my experience). I would go to him every time he cries out for you if it's above a mantra cry.  Some moms here have said that if they actually call your name to go to them immediately and say "Momma's here, it's night time, I love you." and leave.  Then return if they cry out again. To be honest, I had to stay on the floor next to his crib and rub his back during this phase.  We did have to do some sleep training after the phase passed, but it was worth it for us to help him feel safe, secure, and return to sleep quickly. Having said that, you want to maintain as much of your routine as possible so even if he requests books, don't bring them.  Gently and firmly say that it is night time, but that you're there and you love him.

As for the daytime behavior, it is known that children behave "worse" with family, primary care giver BECAUSE they absolutely trust you the most. It's similar to how we put down our guards for our partners and not put forth our "best" behavior once we're more comfortable. It's natural and they truly are not trying to be manipulative. They need us the most through those phases. For us, we cuddled a lot more before bedtime, talked out what we were doing often, used and took around a comfort item, but most importantly, I taught myself how to breath bc the tantrums were so bad around 18-20mo (worse than the 2yo stage... which was actually pretty great for us).

In terms of sleep... If you want to, you can try shortening nap to 1.5 hrs instead of 2 to help him be tired enough for bed.  I remember coming on BW wondering why he was taking 30-60mins to fall asleep when it used to take him less than 15! For my son and another friend on here, they both dropped their total sleep hrs considerably, mostly with nap, during this phase, then returned to sleeping longer for naps. Sometimes, NWs are indicative of too much day time sleep as well so it's worth a try.

What do you think? many hugs.




Offline Palmira78

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Re: 18 MO sleep regression and terrible mood: how to get through it?
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2017, 07:18:18 am »
Big hug for you Ginger. I have found very useful your comments.

Regarding CIO, I do not support it either, and never tried it since I haven't got the heart... but sometimes I wonder if perhaps my DH and I go too fast to my DS room. When DS wakes up he normally calls us screaming -Mooooom, Daaaaaaad- and gets very mad if we don’t wake up quick and go there soon. We need to try the idea of soothing him from his bedroom door; the thing is that previously it was not an issue that we waited in the room whilst he fell asleep. 

About reducing his sleep times, we will try it too. Currently he is starting with some NW at the beginning of the night, so we thought that this would be OT, but it might be the opposite. We also need to give him the chance of getting more exercise, walking more for example, since recently he slept better the day that we had to walk for a longer distance.   

Thanks a lot for your advice regarding the behavior, I will definitely spend longer time cuddling him, and I will train myself on how to breath too :-) We have encouraged the comfort item since he was born but we have not been very successful with it. He always had a small blanket and a teddy in his crib, but despite I took it with us when I was breastfeeding and in other occasions, he does not seem very comforted with them. I also tried other staffed toys and no difference. Any tips about that? I feel that at 17 MO he might be too old to get attached to those things...

Many thanks :-)

Offline ginger428

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Re: 18 MO sleep regression and terrible mood: how to get through it?
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2017, 17:49:05 pm »
You're very welcome and know that we've all been there!

Very true about not going in immediately, so if he tends to escalate, go to him right away so that he's comforted.  There are two ways to approach his independent sleep: walkin /walk out, or gradual withdrawal. Here's a link that describes these:

Excellent ideas about exercise! You're right about early NWs... usually within 3-4 hrs means OT, but if he stays up for a while, it could mean UT.

Try finding one small stuffed animal that you particularly like or he has played with, and stick to that one. It can take a few more months (around 2yo) for him to really get attached. But he may or may not get attached. I don't think he's too old at all, but time will tell what his interests are and what he finds comfort in.  I have friends whose 2-3yo get rotate their "buddies," too.

Hope you have a good night!

Offline Palmira78

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Re: 18 MO sleep regression and terrible mood: how to get through it?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2017, 08:06:12 am »
Just wanted to share that we are getting better regarding the number of NWs.
We have tried for a few days to delay BT to 9.00, and my new DS schedule is now from 9.00 - 7:00. We tried this since in daycare they told me that he was also taking longer to fall asleep at nap time. It happens nowadays from 1.00 to 2.45 pm. So it seems that he was UT.
In addition I am making sure not to hold hands or touch my DS whilst he is about to fall asleep. I sit next to him in the room and I say "I love you. It is time to sleep". The first night he was not very happy about it and prefered me holding his hand. I stroke him briefly but before he fells asleep I remove my hand. This is helping as well for the night wakes since then he no longer needs me to hold his hand to return to sleep, and it is easier to leave the room once he is sleeping.

The issue still is that, we alternate nights with my DH, and when it is his night my DS screams like mad since he wants me to go instead. And he can be like that for 1 hour. Then he understands that Dad is the best he is going to get and selfsettles. But is is very tough for my DH and me as well. This is causing that nobody is getting too much sleep at the moment, but we feel that it is important that we both can go and sooth him (as we have always done, anyway).  Any advice here to improve the situation?


Offline Palmira78

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Re: 18 MO sleep regression and terrible mood: how to get through it?
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2017, 12:38:00 pm »
Last night our DS did sleep through the night. Perhaps this is a one off... but still I am so hopeful...
I am not sure what was the reason for it but he did sleep just one hour nap due to external circumstances, and now he has adjusted to the new BT, at 9.00pm.

Regarding his behavor I am trying to give him more options in everything I can, in order to let him have some control. I try to communicate, ask him and try to understand what he wants every time so he gets less frusated. He is having less drama moments as well.... But perhaps this is related to the fact that his molar came out and now he is no longer in pain... Who knows?
Anyway, things are getting better and I really hope that they will last.   

If I get back to the NW during the following days, the next step should be the WIWO, but I fear it since my DS is so quick to get furious... He is not liking it at all that I do not hold his hand until he gets asleep.

Offline ginger428

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Re: 18 MO sleep regression and terrible mood: how to get through it?
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2017, 19:46:09 pm »
That's good news! May it continue!

I understand... little ones know how to protest when things change and are different, so we want to make sure to be present and be supportive.

Yes, teething is unpredictable until after 2! Poor thing must have had some discomfort... I know my head/sinuses/ears, etc... are affected when I have teeth pain.

You are doing great! With options, make sure to limit them to about 2-3 and be consistent if he doesn't choose those. Distraction still works to an extent at this age. =)