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How to Ease the Pain of Toddler Sleep Regressions

Photograph by Twenty20

Children always know how to pick the best times to enter a sleep regression. It's always the day before you go back to work after a vacation or a night when you have to be up early the next day.

For those of us with toddlers who have been sleeping through the night, there is the fear that this sudden sleep regression will become a permanent situation. There's the worry that, for the rest of our lives, we will have to heed a nightly call from our little one, asking in the most adorable voice we have ever heard for milk and books at 2 in the morning.

When sleep is the only thing separating us from becoming a savage, the temptation is to give in to whatever your toddler desires so we can get back to bed. For those who thought adulting was hard, this phase of parenting is even harder.

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A few things to remember is that this is a phase. In general, sleep regressions are associated with certain developmental milestones. Our children are learning so much about the world at this age, so their little brains cause them to wake at times.

While you mourn the loss of time with Olivia Pope, remember this also means that our child is thriving and becoming a more independent child.

According to the Baby Sleep Site, toddlers also start to need less sleep at around the age of 2. Sorry mom, it might be time to shorten those naps. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yes, this means you might only get one episode of "Scandal" in while the baby sleeps. While you mourn the loss of time with Olivia Pope, remember this also means that our child is thriving and becoming a more independent child. Soon enough, you might actually be able to leave your child unattended for a minute or two to take proper bathroom break. (Looking for upsides, folks!)

In addition to waking up at night, the Baby Sleep Site also notes that children might start to fight his/her bedtimes. It's definitely World War III in our house, when we tell my son it's bedtime. Sometimes he fights us all the way to his bath, pulling adorable tricks on us like giggling or covering his eyes and saying "peekaboo."

College is 16 years away, and I already know that, one day, I will shed a tear in nostalgia over nights like these.

Naturally, this causes a giggle in us as we marvel at this adorable human we are raising, which only reinforces this behavior. He likes to drink milk in his sippy cup at bedtime, so he will then switch over to desperate plea for his "bibi" (Spanish slang for bottle), when he realizes that we are indeed putting him to bed. I'm not sure if he's even supposed to still take milk at bedtime but, at this point, we are not messing with our process.

Also, it's important to note that your toddler has now figured out that when you put him to bed, you don't just disappear. Instead, you are off somewhere else having fun without him. This is another potential reason they fight off bedtime—or wake up at night wanting to play.

Again, stay calm. This too shall pass.

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College is 16 years away, and I already know that, one day, I will shed a tear in nostalgia over nights like these. After I shed that tear, I will console myself by sleeping like a baby in a way only people who no longer have babies actually can. By then, hopefully, I will have also caught up on "Scandal."

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