Raise your hand if you’re a tired mom? Read below if you’re looking for toddler sleep tips from real life moms!
I am in the throes of sleep deprivation, thanks to my 2.5 year old. All the Dubs Brudders were really good sleepers as babies, so I guess it’s time I pay my dues? I was lucky enough to not experience any toddler sleep regressions with my two older boys. But, third babies, man, Baby B is totally throwing me for a loop!
Baby B’s Toddler Sleep Regression
Baby B is currently a few months shy of three years old. (He turns 3 at the end of May). For the last few weeks, he’s been waking in the middle of the night, usually after one sleep cycle, and sneaking into our bedroom at 1/2am.
Nothing like the heavy breathing of your toddler to wake you in the pitch, black darkness!
For sanity’s sake, we’ve been alternating between letting him sleep in our bed, or taking him back to his crib. And letting him cry it out until he falls asleep again. Let’s just say that most nights, we just ended up co-sleeping. And David slept in the guest room.
For the last week, the middle of the night visits regressed further to Baby B waking two to four times a night, and screaming his head off while standing in his crib. FUN TIMES!
Toddler Sleep Tips from Real Life Moms
I shared over on my Instagram stories and the feedback was endless! TIRED MOMS UNITE! Sleep regressions at ages 2-3 seem to be a common occurrence even for the best sleepers.
I’m going to preface the information below with the disclosure that I am not a medical or pediatric care professional, nor a professional/certified sleep consultant.
I’m just a mom, sitting in front her toddler, begging him to fall asleep and STAY asleep every night.
While this isn’t some magical sleep solutions list, it IS a list of different things that real life moms have tried to get their toddlers back to a normal sleep routine. Sharing is caring and when sleep deprivation is at its peak, we’ll try almost anything to get more sleep (for both our kids and us!), right? Thanks to those who offered advice and commiseration. Here is a list of Toddler Sleep Tips from Real Life Moms:
- Go in before you go to bed and shake their shoulders, so they stir a bit. It resets their sleep cycle and they go back into deep REM sleep phase and won’t scare the bajeezus out of you at 3am.
- We used a night light to help with our toddler’s night terrors.
- We started using a sound machine to drown out noises.
- All three Dubs Brudders have slept with the Marpac Dohm since infant days. They can sleep without one (I’ve forgotten to bring it on trips). But, we prefer to have it on for bedtime, so that we don’t have to be extra cautious about noise levels.
- For crib climbers:
- Turn the crib around (if the back is taller than the front)
- Remove the bottom of the crib and place the crib mattress directly on the floor (if there is no gap between crib slats and the mattress)
- You can put a gate at the door, that was a pediatrician’s advice.
- You can flip your door knob, so you can lock it from the outside.
- Monkey locks placed higher where toddler can’t reach.
- Some of you mentioned, no locks, because of fire/safety.
- I dropped her last nap (even though I wasn’t ready), naps have been hit or miss and this was the cause of our nighttime sleep regression.
- I’ve been skipping any water or liquids after dinner and it’s been working so far.
- Sleep train with CIO, I hate it, but it’s the only thing that worked for us.
- I used gentle sleep training, where I’d check on him at five minutes, then seven minutes, then ten minute intervals. Go in, calm them down by patting their back. Once they stop crying, leave the room, and start your clock. Hopefully, he stays asleep. If not, then go back in the same time intervals. It may take a few days, but it should stick over time.
- I just bribed him with rewards.
- Positive reinforcement with awards works, don’t use negative reinforcement. I.e. You can play with this toy in the AM once you sleep all night in your bed. vs. We’re going to take this toy away if you don’t sleep all night.
- We just co-sleep / bed-share. It’s all about SURVIVAL.
- The Ok-to-Wake clock worked wonders for us!
- I bought a weighted blanket that worked for a few weeks.
- Several of you mentioned that the weighted blanket helps with keeping them from waking in the middle of the night.
- Sharing a room with a sibling.
- I hired a sleep consultant because his toddler sleep regressed back to newborn days of constant wake ups and long awake periods.
- Transition to Toddler Bed and/or Twin/Full Bed
- We transitioned to a twin mattress and then moved the crib mattress to the side of our bed. Some nights she sleeps fine, other nights, she comes in our room and falls asleep on the crib mattress.
The general rule of thumb is that two weeks is a good time frame to keep trying the same sleep solution. If it’s still not working, then try a different method and see if that works better for your toddler.
WHATEVER WORKS FOR EVERYONE TO GET THE MOST SLEEP!
There were many messages and notes of moms who are literally just trying to survive. Nothing has worked and this is TOTALLY normal at this age. If you’ve read this list of tips above and feel frustrated, hang in there, mama! You’re not alone. Keep trying and experimenting with different sleep solutions, until you find one that works for you. Survival is the only goal at this stage, right?
What Worked for Us with Toddler Sleep
Like I mentioned before, the first couple weeks, we had no idea how long this “phase” was going to last. So, we just did what we could, either co-sleeping or one of us taking him back to the crib and letting him CIO until he fell back asleep.
We then tried the weighted blanket, he still woke up 2x screaming his head off, and he HATED the blanket.
A few days ago, we transitioned him out of the crib and onto a twin mattress that we’re currently using as a floor bed.
- The first night on the floor bed, he slept his usual 8pm – 7am. HALLELUJAH.
- The second night on the floor bed, he woke up at 3am but we were able to get him to go back to sleep right away.
- The third night on the floor bed, he slept from 7:30pm – 6am.
- And now we’re hoping the pattern continues.
- We are now putting the weighted blanket on him after he falls asleep. It’s really hit or miss if he likes it or not.
Toddler Sleep Regression Causes
I did a quick research of toddler sleep regressions at this age (2-3). And many of you agreed that it was the same things that your babe is experiencing:
- Scared of the dark
- Ready to drop nap
- Verbal cognitive leap
- Ready for bed transition
- Attachment (Doesn’t like being alone)
- Ear infections / illness
- Growth spurt
Toddler Sleep Tools
For Baby B, we’ve consistently used a marpac sound machine, night light (since 1 year old), and we toughed it out through the initial crib climbing stage that happened just after we moved into the house.
Several of you mentioned using melatonin supplements for toddlers ages 3+ (at the recommendation of your pediatrician) to help your toddlers with falling asleep and staying in a deeper state of sleep through the night, as well.
While these are not magical tools that make toddlers sleep, they all (in my opinion) help our kids get a better night’s rest.
Is your toddler going through a sleep regression? Any tips to add to the list, leave a comment below.