20 Month Sleep Regression: Surviving the Tough Phase

Your baby might hit a tough spot in their sleep routine around the 20-month mark. This is called the 20-month sleep regression. It signals big changes in your child’s brain. They might start waking up at night, skip naps, or wake up super early. These changes can be hard, but they show your toddler is growing and learning.

Key Takeaways

  • The 20 month sleep regression is a common phase that many parents face as their babies approach this age.
  • Sleep regressions are a sign of your child’s brain going through significant developmental changes, which can impact their sleep patterns.
  • Every child develops at their own pace, and the 20 month sleep regression can occur anytime between 16-20 months.
  • Staying consistent with healthy sleep habits and having a plan in place can help you navigate this tough phase.
  • Understanding the causes and signs of the 20 month sleep regression can help you provide the support your toddler needs during this time.

Understanding the 20 Month Sleep Regression

The 20 month sleep regression is a common phase for many toddlers. It’s a temporary time where their brains and bodies change a lot. This phase may challenge parents, but knowing its causes makes it easier to handle.

What is a Sleep Regression?

A sleep regression happens when a child’s brain is making big changes. These changes can affect their sleep in many ways. For example, a 20 month old might start waking up at night, getting up early, or not wanting to nap. These issues show that the child’s brain is moving forward, making important steps.

What Causes the 20 Month Sleep Regression?

At this 20 month stage, the toddler craves independence. They’re realizing they can make their own decisions. This new understanding might make them say “I can choose not to sleep, right?” They are also hitting new milestones, like running, climbing, and using simple commands. These big steps can shake up their sleep routines.

Signs of the 20 Month Sleep Regression

As your toddler gets close to 20 months old, you might see signs of a sleep regression. Some common signals include:

  • Waking up more at night
  • Not wanting to nap
  • Getting up really early in the morning

These changes in their sleep are part of growing up. It’s because their bodies and minds are changing a lot. The 20 month sleep issue doesn’t last forever. But, knowing the signs can help you through and improve your child’s sleep.

Is it Separation Anxiety or the 20 Month Sleep Regression?

Increased Separation Anxiety at 20 Months

Many babies hit their peak of separation anxiety around 18 months old. They want to be more independent but also need their caregiver nearby. This need for closeness continues into the 20 month sleep regression phase. They yearn for safety as their independence grows.

Distinguishing Between Separation Anxiety and Sleep Regression

A 20 month old waking up at night could be from several reasons. It might be due to sickness or teething or changing routine and wake windows. It’s a good idea to check for these before thinking it’s just the 20 month sleep regression. The same time, the 20 month sleep regression might bring in more separation anxiety. So, figuring out the real cause is key.

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20 Month Sleep Regression

At around 20 months old, many babies face a tough time with sleep. They might wake up at night or not want to nap. A sleep regression is when a child’s brain changes a lot, affecting their sleep. But, these changes show that your baby is growing. Their brain is making big steps forward.

This sleep issue often happens when toddlers want to do things on their own. They learn they can choose what to do. This might make them not want to sleep. At the same time, they are learning lots of new things. They might start running, climbing, and naming things. All this new learning can make them not want to sleep.

Sleep Needs for a 20 Month OldRecommended Amount
Total Sleep in 24 Hours12-14 hours
Overnight Sleep10-12 hours
Daytime Sleep (Nap)2-3 hours
Wake Windows4-6 hours
Bedtime Range7:00-8:00 pm

Even if your 20 month old wants to stay awake, sticking to a nap schedule is key. If they don’t nap, push bedtime earlier. This can prevent them from getting too tired.

Understanding why the 20 month sleep regression happens is a big help. With a plan, parents can guide their toddlers through it. This way, they will get better sleep in the end.

Duration of the 20 Month Sleep Regression

The 20 month sleep regression is something many toddlers go through. It usually lasts for 1-2 weeks. Your baby is learning a lot during this time.

How Long Does the 20 Month Regression Last?

Parents find the 20 month sleep regression tough. But, it’s just a phase and won’t last forever. It’s key to keep up with your baby’s sleep routine.

By sticking to a sleep schedule, you can make it easier for your toddler. It’s all about helping them as their brain develops. This way, the tough period might not seem that bad.

Sleep Needs for a 20 Month Old

When your toddler turns 20 months old, you might notice changes in their sleep needs. Figuring out how much sleep a 20-month-old requires is key. It helps make sure they’re well-rested and ready for all the learning and growth ahead.

How Much Sleep Does a 20 Month Old Need?

Experts say a 20-month-old needs 12-14 hours of sleep a day. This means 10-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during the day. These hours usually come from a single, long nap. Keeping to this schedule supports your child’s growth and learning at this stage.

Signs of Overtiredness and Undertiredness

There are some clear signs your 20-month-old might not be getting enough or too much sleep. Signs of being too tired include trouble sleeping, waking often at night, and early mornings. Being too rested might show as a lot of yawning, being grumpy, or finding it hard to move between activities. Knowing these signs helps you adjust their sleep and surroundings to get the right amount of sleep.

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Cry It Out or Gentle Sleep Training?

You may be asking yourself whether to let your toddler cry it out or choose gentle sleep training. A good source advises against only letting a 20-month-old cry. They suggest a holistic approach to remain close to your child while teaching them good sleep habits.

The source points out many alternative methods to cry it out. For example, there’s the chair method, Ferber method, and “Pick Up, Put Down.” These can help your toddler learn to sleep on their own without too much upset.

Can You Sleep Train During the 20 Month Regression?

The good news is sleep training is okay at 20 months, according to the first source. They say it’s a great time to start for better sleep. They provide a detailed plan that keeps you close to your toddler.

If you choose to train your 20 month old, be ready for about a week or a little longer. Some ways are quicker than others. But, gentle methods might take more time but can be better for kids who get upset easily.

It’s important to stick with the plan you choose and keep things regular. Pay close attention to when your toddler needs rest. Also, a calm bedtime routine really helps them sleep on their own during this tough time.

Surviving the 20 Month Sleep Regression

When your toddler almost hits 20 months, their sleep may get tougher. This is the 20 month sleep regression, which many parents go through. It can be hard but you can find ways to help both of you sleep better.

Plan for Active Play

At 20 months, lots of active play is key. Things like making an obstacle course or dancing can tire them out. This could lead to better sleep at night.

Pay Attention to Wake Windows

Knowing when your child is ready for nap or bed is important. They should be awake enough before trying to sleep. For a nap, they might need 5-6 hours of play. Before bed, about 4-5 hours should do it.

Allow Some Independence

Letting your child choose parts of their bedtime can be helpful. Like picking their PJs or story. But, remember, bedtime isn’t up for negotiation.

Remember Toddlers Still Need Sleep

Your child might say they want to stay up. But, maintaining their nap and bedtime is crucial. If they skip a nap, early bedtime might be the fix. This stops them from getting too tired and cranky.

Stay Consistent

Consistency is key during this phase. Stick to good sleep habits and your usual routine. It’s also best not to start new routines that you can’t continue.

Have a Plan

If the 20 month sleep issues last longer, consider a plan. Look into a sleep training program to help adjust. This might be what’s needed to get your child back on a good sleep track.

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The 20 month sleep regression is common and temporary for many toddlers. It happens as their minds and bodies grow. Though tough for parents, sticking to good sleep habits and encouraging play can reduce its impact.

Understanding why it happens can make it easier for parents. With a clear plan and the right actions, you can help your toddler sleep better. Patience, doing things the same way, and good strategies are key to getting through this phase.

Remember, your toddler’s rough sleep at 20 months is normal. With a good approach, you can guide them through. Stay cheerful, stay open to change, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Good sleep habits now will help for years to come.


What is a sleep regression?

A sleep regression happens when a child’s brain changes a lot. This change can make them have trouble sleeping. For example, a 20 month old might wake up a lot at night, get up very early, or not want to nap.

What causes the 20 month sleep regression?

At 20 months, toddlers start wanting to do things on their own. They figure out they can choose what to do. This independence makes them less keen on going to bed. Also, this age is when they begin big tasks like running and following commands. All this can mess up their sleep.

What are the signs of the 20 month sleep regression?

Signs include waking up often at night, skipping naps, and getting up earlier than normal.

Is it separation anxiety or the 20 month sleep regression?

Around 18 months, many babies start fearing being away from their parents. This can mix with their need for autonomy, making it tough to sleep alone.

How long does the 20 month sleep regression last?

This phase usually lasts just 1-2 weeks. It’s part of the way their body and mind grow at this time.

How much sleep does a 20 month old need?

A 20 month old should sleep 12-14 hours each day. This includes 10-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during the day.

Can I let my 20 month old cry it out during a sleep regression?

It’s better not to use the “cry it out” method right now. Experts suggest sleep training that keeps the parent close emotionally.

Can you sleep train during the 20 month regression?

Yes, sleep training can be good at 20 months. It’s a great time to teach your child to sleep well. This could improve their sleep even after the regression is over.

How can I help my 20 month old survive the sleep regression?

Here are some tips to help your child through the regression:– Let them play a lot when they’re awake.– Watch how long they’ve been awake to know when they need sleep.– Give them a little independence at bedtime.– Keep the same sleep time every day.– Prepare a sleep training if the issue lasts.