The Night Time Ninja: 2 Year Old Sleep Regression

At first, we just thought the night-time waking was because Dean has been so sick, and his schedule is all out of whack. But knock on wood he has been healthy for the last few weeks, we have been doing the same routine as usual, and his sleep hasn’t returned to normal.

He will wake up 1 -3 times and then decide it is time to party at 4 am. 4 am is not when I want to party (unless I am still up from the night before, oh wait, that hasn’t happened since I was 21). So, I started doing some reading and learned that the 2-year-old sleep regression is a real thing. 😩 I am so sad. I feel like we had this good sleeper one second, and then boom, we are back to getting up three times a night.

Everything I read says stay consistent, and know that it will pass. But what do we do in the meantime? Let him cry it out? For how long? What if he never stops crying? Do we bring him into our bed? Then he will want that every night and know he can get it if he just keeps crying. Does one of us sleep in the chair in his room with him? Then every other night one of us will be getting terrible sleep. What do we do?

The Baby Sleep Site had some good advice. Here is our plan.

We are going to set boundaries and stick to them. While prepping him for bed we are going to give him a play-by-play. This is what that looked like last night:

“Okay Dean, Mommy is going to read one more book, then we are going to sing two songs, then I am going to put you in your crib and leave.” Read one more book. “Let’s sing two songs.” Sing one song. “Okay, I am gonna sing one more song, then I am going to put you in your crib and leave.” Sing. “Okay sweetheart, time for bed. I am going to put you in your crib now and leave.” Kisses, love you’s etc. lay him down and leave.

Last night this worked, not a tear! I was shocked. However, if he cries we will let him cry it out for 10 minutes or so, (we set a timer and turn the sound off on the monitor because it breaks our hearts) and then go in to let him know we are here, but we are not going to pick him up. If we pick him up it is all over– he will know he has won. This is going to be so hard for me. If he keeps crying we will set another longer timer, maybe 15-20 minutes and do the same thing. After that, I really don’t know. Advice would be much appreciated!

2 thoughts on “The Night Time Ninja: 2 Year Old Sleep Regression

  1. Nico says:

    Hi Kendra,

    Saw your post on FB and read this blog. My opinion is counter-cultural, but here it is.

    I don’t believe humans, especially two year old children, are meant to sleep alone. That’s not normal in any traditional cultures. Think about it, do you like to cuddle? Would you not prefer to cuddle yourself to sleep with somebody you love? Forcing a baby to sleep alone may be normal in our culture, but it isn’t right.

    “Cry it out” is also unhealthy. Healthy cultures do not let a child cry without comforting them. That tells children that they are not safe, that their feelings are not valid. Even when a baby finally stops crying, it has been shown that their brains remain in a state of high stress.

    However, it’s also not healthy for you to not sleep. In traditional cultures we lived in larger family units and mothers weren’t left to do all of the child rearing.

    There’s no easy answer, but for what it’s worth, my 1 year old sleeps in our bed, we never cry it out, and she’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever known. However, my partner still wakes up several times throughout the night to nurse, and obviously that takes a toll.

    • Kendra says:

      Nico, Thank you so much for your comment and engaging on my blog. I agree with a lot of the things you said, and I think it is incredibly important to show our little humans that we are there for them and love them. And you are right that in our culture, we want to create space between our little ones and us at night. However, I do see some practical reasons to this as well. Because I am such a light sleeper, I really struggled when Dean slept in our room for the first part of his life. I felt like I was always waking up to every little sound. When he does sleep with us, because of illness or travel, I sleep much lighter, and he rolls around like a crazy person often ending with his feet in my stomach or face. How do you manage stuff like this? Another question I have is a logistical one, what happens when you want to be intimate with your partner? Where does your little human go? These are just things we haven’t figured out yet, and your advice would be much appreciated.

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