2.5 Year Sleep Regression – How to Overcome It?

2.5 year sleep regression

Has your child stopped napping? Do not worry. Children should take a short nap during the day until they are 5 years old. The 2.5 year sleep regression is real, and the worst.

If your child is experiencing a disruption to sleep, you should not worry. Most 2.5-year-olds need 1 to 2 hours of sleep every day during the day. You should not encourage your child to skip naps or believe that 2 1/2 years olds may not need sleep during the daytime.

There are many causes for the 2.5-year sleep regression. By understanding the causes, you can help your child overcome sleep regression. If you would like to know more, keep reading.

In this post, I will discuss the following.

  • What is sleep regression?
  • What elements play into the 2.5 year sleep regression?
  • How are all these factors common?
  • Game Plan for 2.5-Year Sleep Regression


This post may contain affiliate links. Also, this post is for informational purposes only. If you are concerned about your child, contact your child’s healthcare provider or sleep consultant.

2.5 year sleep regression

What is sleep regression?

A 2.5-year sleep regression is a period of time when your child, who was previously sleeping well, has suddenly begun to wake up during the night and is resisting sleep. This usually occurs at 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, 2 years old, and 2.5 years old.

If your child is fighting naptime and bedtime and waking up during the night, they could be going through the 2.5-year-old sleep regression. 

They usually occur when your child is going through a developmental milestone. Sleep usually goes back to normal if you stick to your child’s sleep routine. It is totally normal and you shouldn’t be concerned at all.

Transitioning back into the sleep routine may take any time from a few days to a few weeks. The more consistent you are, the shorter the transition will take place. I typically follow the moms on call schedule with my children. It is one of the best sleep routines your child can follow.

What elements play into the 2.5 year sleep regression?

2.5 year sleep regression
child finding difficulty sleeping

There are three factors that may cause the 2.5-year sleep regression: emotions, physical elements, and transitions. Here is more detail on each factor.

Mental / Emotions

At the age of two, children begin to experience fears. According to Better Health, many children develop fears at this age. They may see scary things on TV or in everyday life. Things that may not scare adults can be scary to them. They may also experience nightmares. Their emotions disrupt their sleep, and it is important to comfort them. At 2.5 years old, most children fear the dark and monsters. A nightlight can help them sleep better during the night and prevent the 2.5 year sleep regression.

Physical Elements

2.5 year old do not go through growth spurts like babies, but their molars start to come out at that age. 2-year molars develop at around 2 years old. This may cause discomfort and pain because they are big teeth. Teething can cause night waking and lots of crying. During the daytime, they will be much more tired and fussy. Cortisol builds up in your child’s body when they are extremely tired. This cortisol causes them to not be able to sleep. You can try to use teethers for the two-year molars. They could help reduce the discomfort.

According to the Cleaveland Clinic Health Essentials, two to three-year-olds need about 11 to 14 hours of sleep including a nap.  Moreover, children who are one-year-old need more than 2 hours of sleep during the day. Once they hit two years old, they need between one to two hours of sleep. That is a major decrease. Make sure there is enough time between naptime and bedtime, and remember sleep needs change. 

2.5 year sleep regression

Transitions and Big Life Events

There are a few transitions and big life events that can cause sleep disruptions and 2.5-year-old sleep regression.

  • Dropping a nap too soon can cause sleep disruption. Children need to nap until they are 5 years old.
  • Transitioning your child into a toddler bed too soon can also cause sleep regression. They should be about 3 years old before being ready to transition into a toddler bed or a big kid bed.
  • Potty training can also cause two-year-old sleep regression. Potty training can cause disruption in sleep. It is very difficult for a child to potty train during naptime or bedtime. The fear of doing it on themselves or not knowing what to do can disrupt their sleep. Stay consistent with them, and this can be overcome.
  • Children know when there is a new sibling arriving soon. The arrival of a new sibling can cause fear and jealousy which may disrupt their sleep during the 2.5 year sleep regression. Reading books about it and getting them positive attention can help them transition back into their sleep routine.
  • Transitioning into preschool and childcare can be overwhelming. If it is the first time your child is away in daycare, it could be very challenging for them. They may regress in many things like sleep and potty training.

How are all these factors of 2.5 year sleep regression common?

All these factors can cause your child to experience many symptoms of the 2.5 year sleep regression including:

  • Many night wakings (They could wake up every night around 3 am because they are overly tired, hungry, or teething).
  • Fighting bedtime or naptime.
  • Waking up early.
  • Skipping naps.
  • Taking short naps.
  • Crying a lot.
  • Fatigue and fussiness.
  • Irritability.
  • Challenges with bedtime. 

Game Plan for 2.5-Year Sleep Regression

There are a few ways you can overcome 2.5 year sleep regression including:

  • Make sure the naps are not too long. You can try shortening them to one nap for one hour. You should not skip naptimes. They are needed by your child for a good night’s sleep. 
  • Change the time of naptime. The best would be between 12 pm and 1 pm.
  • Also, you can also try to stay consistent with your child’s sleep routine. Just keep putting your child in bed at the time you usually do. 
  • Help your child overcome their fears. Some ways you can do that is by putting a nightlight in your child’s room, telling them monsters are imaginary, teaching them what shadows are, and letting them watch Sesame street. They portray a happy version of monsters like the cookie monster and Elmo. You could also play with them games like the monster hunt or introduce to them the imaginary monster spray. This could prevent the 2.5 year sleep regression. 
  • Do not transition your child too early to a toddler bed or put your child too early in the crib for bedtime.
  • Also, the time between the end of naptime and the start of bedtime should be at least 4 hours. Most 2.5-year-olds should nap around early afternoon before 4 pm. Also, most 2-year-olds’ should go to bed between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm. 
  • If your child is starting daycare, tell his/her teacher to stay consistent and not fall to their wants. 
  • Keep in mind that whatever the cause is for this 2.5 year sleep regression, it is temporary. Do not overthink it.
  • You should avoid one thing during the 2.5-year-old sleep regression. You should avoid creating new habits like the cry-it-out method.
  • You can transition naptime into quiet time instead. 

In Conclusion

All in all, the best way to overcome the 2.5-year-old sleep regression is by staying consistent. If that doesn’t work, you can try to find out what the cause of the sleep regression may be. If you find the cause, you can find a solution. Just remember that all children between 2 and 3 years old need to nap during naptime and need 12 to 13 hours of sleep during the night. 2-year-olds can be difficult to deal with. Just stay patient, calm, and consistent. Everything will work out. 

For more information, watch the video below.

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