May 18, 2024

The 15-18 Month Sleep Regression

The 15-18 Month Sleep Regression

You’ve had a few months of great sleep, you may have nicely settled into a one nap routine and you’re finding life easy again! Surprise – another regression!

This one can hit like a tonne of bricks, welcome to the 15-18 month sleep regression.


Around this time there are so many things happening developmentally. Your baby may be newly walking, learning how to run, jump, squat and throw. You’re probably also noticing a huge advancement in their vocabulary and understanding of multi-step directions. All of these things cause extra cognitive work to master these skills, and this is often why sleep disruptions happen.


Resistance to Bed Time: Suddenly, your once easy bedtimes are back to the battleground, this time with more persistent vocals.

Increased time to fall asleep: Sometimes your baby is still happy to go to bed, but it seems like they cannot get comfortable and are taking ages to go to sleep, or on the other hand, bedtimes have become emotional where they really don’t want to go to bed and often prefer you to remain in the room.

Decreased Nap Length: It seems like just overnight your glorious 2 hour naps suddenly dropped to 45 minutes. These new skills they’re learning are occupying their brain and that overtakes the drive to sleep.

Separation Anxiety: Ah yes, this old doozy amps up again! You may find it's hard to leave the room, be in the toilet by ourself or having a little koala at your hip.

Frequent Night Wakes: Just when you thought night waking were reducing or had completely disappeared, your baby decides nighttime is for calling out for you.

Early Morning Wake-ups: The birds aren't even up yet, but your baby sure is ready to start their day (usually the most frustrating).

Appetite Changes: This can stem from over-tiredness (from all the sleep fighting they’ve been doing), or simply because they’re too busy learning to want to take the time to eat.


Patience is Key: Remember, this phase is temporary. Your baby isn't giving you a hard time; they're having a hard time adjusting to their new skills and sensations.

Increase active play: Into toddlerhood the need for physical activity increases. This is great for burning energy but also a great way to actively practice all of these new skills. It is recommended that toddlers of this age spend a minimum of 180 minutes throughout the day doing activities that require physical activity.

Stick to Routines: Consistency with your bedtime and nap time routines provides a sense of security and predictability for your little one, helping them feel more ready to sleep.

Increase quality 1-1 time: Activities done together such as reading books, coloring, singing, and imaginative play can all help your little one feel that connection. Brief cuddles on the couch between all of their fun is a great idea too! This helps fill their cup to ensure they are feeling that connection come bedtime so they don’t need their fill at that time.

Increase Wind-down: With so much going on cognitively, having a little extra time to transition from the play to the sleep can be helpful. This helps your bub understand it’s time to relax and gives them more time to fully prepare for sleep. Going to bed still in play-mode will lead to extra battles.

Limit Screen time: This is the age where we can start to see screens become a part of the daily routine. Understandably, they can be a saving grace for a quiet moment and in moderation, it is fine most of the time. However, the stimulation and blue lights released from screens can release cortisol and make it harder to wind-down at the end of the day. Aim to remove screens for 1-2 hours before any sleep.


Thankfully nothing lasts forever, your little one will return to great sleep soon. Be patient, find ways to honor your toddler’s needs and support them as they master their new skills.

Remember, each baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Trust your instincts, and don't hesitate to reach out for support if you need it. 

Need some help to tackle the 15-18 month regression? If your previously great sleeper has thrown you for a loop, book a 30 minute chat!

  • Our Toddler Sleep Guide has lots of further information on sleep regressions and support that can help you through.
  • For parents struggling with several things such as catnapping, frequent night waking, early morning rising or things that simply no longer work, have a look at our Phone + One Week Support option.
  • Not sure what is right for you? Get on the phone to one of our experienced consultants with our FREE 15min Discovery Call