So, I was just thinking how nice it was to be able to potter around sewing a cute little cushion and matching bunting for a local charity auction, whilst musing over the day’s events with my wonderful partner, as both children slept peacefully. It came as a horrible shock, then, when my littlest lady decided she wasn’t really interested in sleep anymore…
So here we are, the 18 month sleep regression (that I recall hearing almost nothing about until I found myself frantically searching the internet for answers at 5am a few short days ago) has landed a little on the early side at just 16 months. Don’t get me wrong, my daughter has never yet slept through and still nurses a couple of times at night. I’m content for this to go on for so long as she needs it. I find myself objecting, which mainly involves feeling sorry for myself, when I’m woken up at 1am and kept awake until just gone 6am. With all sorts of thoughts running through my mind, ranging from whether or not I should let her wake naturally the next day to whether or not I’ll ever get any sleep again with another daughter who wakes around 8am, I decided to look into the possibility of a sleep regression.
Sleep regressions typically occur during, or just before, a developmental leap of some kind. Suddenly your child has bags of energy for learning new skills and sleep is a thing of the past. It’s a time of great wonder and even greater exhaustion that is further compounded by the grumpiness of a toddler who, secretly, does need to sleep a little more than they’re letting on. And 18 months, it would appear, is possibly the biggest sleep regression of all. I’m not sure why I haven’t heard of it before, and I can’t remember my eldest ever going through anything like it, but the internet is full of stories similar to my own and asking friends turns up quite a few more. Learning about it, however, helped to stamp out the niggling voice at the back of my mind that wondered things like “Is it because she had a rather large amount of chocolate that day?”;“Am I not spending enough one on one time with her?”;“Is she getting enough exercise?”; “What am I doing wrong?”.
The truth is, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about sleep regressions. They burst in out of nowhere, they wipe you out and then they go again almost as quickly as they arrived. But in their wake they leave wonderful new skills that make the whole thing worthwhile. I can already see my daughter’s language skills emerging alongside more creative play. I was surprised to hear her counting along with us recently and making little dolls walk along the floor. The magic of growth spurts is that, whilst they take you by surprise and shake up your life for a good few weeks, the surprise of seeing/hearing your little one do/say something totally unexpected is a moment not worth trading for any amount of sleep.
I won’t lie, I’m definitely in some sort of survival mode just now having accepted that the next few weeks are a write off as far as sleep is concerned and I am nervously eyeing the video monitor wondering what tonight will hold, but I’m hanging in there and I’ve got a new book on my kindle that I am getting more time to read as my energetic baby busies herself playing and chattering so it isn’t all bad.
I’m fairly certain that almost anything goes when a sleep regression hits and is unlikely to have any bearing upon future routines. So, do what you need to do to get through it and worry about routines and sleep when everything’s settled down. If that means getting up and stuffing your face full of chicken and hot chocolate at 3am then go for it! This, too, shall pass!