15-month sleep regression — What is it and what to do?

If you have a baby, you are likely to have faced the 4-months, 9-month, and 12-month sleep regressions, therefore you’re good at handling these sleep issues of your little one by now, but the 15th month comes, and the child has again returned to the stage you already passed, tormenting you with frequent awakenings at night.

If that is the case for you, you may be facing a case of a 15-month sleep regression. What it is, how long it will last and how you can help your baby back on the sleep track, you will find all the answers you have in this article.

What is sleep regression?

At first, we need to understand what sleep regression is in general.

The term describes a period of time when a baby or toddler who’s been sleeping peacefully throughout the night suddenly starts waking up, taking and/or skipping short naps for no apparent reason.

Having understood this, let’s pass to the 15-month sleep regression.

What is the 15-month sleep regression?

A 15-month sleep regression is an interruption in the nighttime and naptime schedule that happens when your child is around 15 months old.

The regression is not similar to all the previous ones as it is tied neither to neurological issues, nor physiological ones, which is the case for the 4-month, and 9-month regressions.

This kind of regression is a challenging one as it coincides with the time period when many babies are learning to walk and transition down to one nap during the day, which can lead to overtiredness as babies adjust to staying awake for longer periods, seek independence, and many more.

You might also be wondering how long the 15-month sleep regression lasts. Well, it depends on the cause, but the good news is that sleep regressions are typically short-lived. They usually last a couple of weeks.

Within a few weeks, your baby will adjust and return to a long and good quality sleep.  

However, it is worth mentioning that all children are different, therefore not all of them will undergo this phase.

Signs of a sleep regression

The primary sign of your child experiencing regression is the change in their sleep pattern. Although, it is not the only thing that you can notice. Apart from the worse sleeping routine, there are also:

  • Resisting to falling asleep
  • Fussiness
  • Multiple night wakings
  • Fewer naps
  • Changes in appetite

Causes of the 15-month sleep regression in toddlers

The most common causes of your little one’s sleep regression include:

  • Walking

Many babies sufficiently develop their sensory organs by that time, move into the stage of active space exploration and start to learn how to walk. So sometimes, walking or running around the room at bedtime is more appealing to a toddler than just sitting or lying.

  • Identifying

Toddlers start to connect words with the objects that surround them. If you name a certain thing, the child might point at it. Besides, it is very common to see your toddler repeating adult gestures when they, for instance, brush their teeth or stack the dishwasher.

  • Talking

At about 12-15 months of age, you can already notice your baby trying to imitate adult speech and uttering their first words, hence mastering a new skill.

  • Separation anxiety

In this period, your baby might experience separation anxiety which causes them to become clingy or cry when they are not around you. The main thing you need to understand is that it is a normal part of a baby’s life that happens in the first two years.

  • Dropped naps

At this age, babies transition from two naps to one which can disrupt their daytime sleep and nighttime sleep. This development milestone can impact sleep as well.

Nap transition

In the reasons that cause regression, a nap transition was mentioned. As it plays quite a significant role in children’s life at this age, let’s talk a little about it.

Between 12-18 months, many children start to transition from two down to one nap. The basic signs of the transition can be the following:

  • consistently fighting a nap: the child starts to refuse to sleep or it takes 20 minutes longer to nod off for a nap. It is one of the most common signs of a coming nap transition.
  • a change in the length of naps: the toddler starts to sleep less than normal. It also can be a sign that your little one is ready to drop to one nap.
  • a change in the timing of naps: it is harder to predict their naptime; your little one can take a nap any time. This can interfere with their night sleep. For instance, if the toddler goes to bed late in the afternoon or the evening, it will make it harder for them to fall asleep at night.

Keeping this in mind, it is still best to wait until your toddler shows obvious signs that they are ready before you start this transition. Dropping to one nap is a major change for your tot, and you want to make sure they are ready.

If your toddler has still two naps a day and does not sleep through the night, wait for them to learn to sleep independently.

It will help avoid overtiredness which can make it harder for the toddler to get to bed smoothly and lead to more night wakings.

Tips for handling the 15-month sleep regression in your toddler

1. Stick to a solid bedtime routine

First of all, to deal with the situation, consistency is crucial. But why is it so important to have a consistent bedtime routine?

A predictable routine helps your child develop some good sleep habits, hence making it easier for them to fall asleep. It is essential to do the same activities in the same order on a daily basis.

For instance, a bath, a few tales and a song, some cuddling before putting them down. The more consistent you are, the more chance the child will not resist going to sleep.

2. Be flexible about naps

It has been said earlier that you should stick to a strict routine not to create new dependent sleep habits, however, you should not take everything to the extreme. If a toddler does not want to sleep, it’s better not to force them.

Adjust toddler’s sleep routine as their sleep patterns adjust. Some days they refuse to nap altogether, other days they might get some sleep at midday. So, it means that you need to respond to your toddler.

3. Be supportive and calm

At this difficult time, when a lot of changes are happening in the child’s life, it is really important not to leave them alone.

Try to stay calm, confident, and reassuring when they melt down. Offer them comfort when they need it. Do not raise your voice or speak harshly.

To keep them relaxed, you, for instance, can add some light to your child’s room or add a bath, or story time to your bedtime routine.

Since staying calm all the time can be quite frustrating and tiring, ask another family member or friend for help when you feel too frustrated.

4. Consider sleep training

The main and, probably, obvious reason to use sleep training is when you are tired. Sleep is essential for the overall health and well-being of a baby.

It will help the child to fall asleep independently and have restful sleep. As well as the family as a whole.

But keep in mind that sleep training is not the answer to all sleep problems. Rather than training them, it is better to handle the issues that disrupt a sleep cycle and lead to night wakings.


After reading the article, you should have a good idea of what the 15-months regression is and the reasons that cause it. Sleep regression can happen at any age and can be hard on both you and your toddler; they can be frustrated, upset, or even angry.

Fortunately, there are many different ways to support your child and bring them back on track like ramping up routine, flexibility about naps, being loving and calm, and many others.

However, whichever option you choose, do everything you can to help your little one start sleeping soundly again. And before you know it, everything will go back to the way it was.

Frequently asked questions

Is there a sleep regression at 15 months?

There is a widespread belief among many parents that there is no such thing as the 15-month sleep regression as it is not often talked about like other well-known regressions.
However, this regression is quite real, even though it does not last too long, and you need to know how to support your child during this period.

Why is my 15 month old waking up at night?

There can be many reasons why a child wakes up at night, such as a noisier-than-usual household or a change in the sleeping environment. Sometimes sickness or teething pain can be a cause of disrupted sleep.
So the first thing to do is to make sure the baby is not sick or something else. If they are not, then it might be a 15-month sleep regression.

Read also: The best position to sleep after C-section. Take the expert advice

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