Why is my 2-year-old not going to sleep?
Sleep regression is when your child, who has been sleeping well, suddenly and seemingly without warning, begins waking frequently at night and/or refusing to nap during the day. These regressions can last anywhere from two to six weeks, then return to normal patterns. (1)
Your two-year-old may be experiencing sleep regression for several reasons.
She’s awake longer during the day
Two-year-olds need an average of 12 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, with 10 ½ to 11 of those hours being at night, and the remaining one and a half to two hours being in a single, usually, afternoon nap. (Mine actually preferred a late-morning nap.)
If your child get this average of 12 hours every day, you may see a pleasant attitude difference in your toddler. (2)
She’s experiencing separation anxiety
Separation anxiety peaks around 18 months, but can appear off and on until 5 or 6 years of age. (2) For two-year-olds, separation anxiety may actually be based on fear, such as being afraid of being left alone, or with people he doesn’t know.
Many toddlers, however, simply don’t want to miss out on whatever they believe the rest of the family are doing after they’re put to bed. (2)
She’s suddenly stopped taking naps
Naptime resistance is a phase. Parents shouldn’t eliminate naptime altogether. Though each child is different, most children don’t completely give up their naps until 3 or 4 years of age. (2)
She’s going through a big transition at home or daycare
This could include many factors such as moving to a big girl bed, potty training, the arrival of a new sibling, a vacation, change in care provider.
She’s experiencing nighttime fears
It is around the age of 2 years that many toddlers begin to experience bad dreams, imagining monsters in the closet or under the bed, marking “a fundamental change in the way that your child processes the world around him.” (3)
What can I do to help us all get some sleep?