15 Month Sleep Regression – or Something Else?

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cute excited toddler 15 month sleep regression baby having funBoy, oh boy, my baby struggled hard with the 15 month sleep regression. He was learning to walk (which is notorious for disrupting sleep) and it seems like his entire 15th month was one long regression. But many other families I’ve worked with as a baby sleep consultant sailed through the age of 15 months without the slightest hint of a regression. What gives?

Why do some babies seem to go through the 15 month sleep regression, and others don’t? And if your 15 month old is suddenly waking up at night or not taking naps- could something else be causing it?

This article explains the most common sleep struggles for 15 month olds and helps you decide if your baby is going through a sleep regression or not. Plus, it gives specific tips to get your little one’s sleep back on track!

This post may contain affiliate links.

 

 

Is there a 15 month sleep regression?

 

Many parents wonder whether the 15 month sleep regression actually exists, and if so, what causes it. Let’s start by looking at what a sleep regression is.

Sleep regressions are temporary disruptions in your baby’s sleep that arise when your baby undergoes big developmental changes. These developmental changes can be either physical or cognitive.

At the age of 15 months, the developmental milestones your baby may be mastering are both physical and cognitive.

 

Developmental Milestones at 15 Months Old

 

Walking:

At 15 months, 50% of babies are still learning how to walk or have just taken their first steps. The other 50% are already walking, running, or learning to walk backwards. 

Identifying:

Your toddler is learning the meaning of words and the use of everyday objects. When you name certain things in the house, they might be able to point and identify them. It’s common to see toddlers imitating our everyday events like sweeping, putting on shoes and talking on the phone (which is super cute.)

Talking:

Understanding and identifying things also affects your baby’s speech. You may notice your baby babbling or trying to imitate adult speech. Around this age, many little ones can say a few real words that have meaning! (For example, dog, milk, book, ball.)

 

The underlying cause for sleep regressions are actually these developmental changes.

As your toddler gains mobility and the ability to interact with you, their world changes. It’s a lot for their brains and bodies to process, so it’s completely natural to see other aspects (like sleep) suffer temporarily. Their system needs time to process these new skills.

You may sense that your toddler is restless and finds it hard to settle or relax. Once their newfound skills become “second nature” for them, they’ll be able to sleep well again. 

Many parents think the 15 month sleep regression isn’t real, because it isn’t as infamous as other well-known regressions like the 4 month regression, the 12 month regression and the 2 year regression

However, what I have discovered working with thousands of parents (and being one myself) is that regressions don’t always happen at the exact time they’re “supposed to.”

For example, my son started walking at 15 months, and holy moly did he regress HARD. But he sailed through the ages of 4 and 12 months, with no disruptions to his sleep.

Each baby is different and their pace of development will determine when (and if) they experience sleep regressions. 

 

Common Sleep Issues for 15 Month Olds

15 month old not sleeping through the night 

15 month old won’t take naps 

15 month old waking up early

15 month old has separation anxiety

 

 

RELATED: Get my FREE sleep guide here

 

15 month old not sleeping through the night

 

Whether your 15 month old has recently started waking up at night (or has never slept through the night) it’s so tiring being awake at 3 am with a rambunctious toddler.

The good news is that at this age, your little one has the ability to happily fall asleep on their own, and sleep through the night. Most toddlers won’t do this naturally, though, they have to be taught!

Big milestones (like learning to walk and talk) can definitely cause your toddler to start waking up at night. It’s so hard for their system to settle down and sleep 12 hours straight.

This disruption should only last for a short time, though. If your 15 month old has been waking up at night for several weeks (or even months) it’s time to find a solution to get them sleeping through the night.

The key to getting your baby sleeping through the night is to teach them to self soothe at bedtime and during any night wakings. 

When babies are helped to sleep (whether by rocking, bouncing, feeding, holding, or patting) they’re also going to need help falling back to sleep when they wake or stir during the night. There’s nothing inherently wrong or “bad” about helping your baby fall asleep. It’s perfectly natural, and when our babies are young, it’s necessary.

But many parents discover that their older babies don’t settle as easily or start waking more often at night, needing to be helped back to sleep several times. That’s a sign that it’s time for your baby to learn to self soothe.

So if you’re exhausted and ready to get your toddler sleeping great ASAP, check out my step-by-step program here that gives you options for sleep training.

 

15 month old won’t take naps

 

Nap refusal at this age is typically caused by the need to transition to one nap. Over many years of helping families with sleep training, I’ve found that 15 months is the “magic age” where many toddlers are ready for one nap.

It’s best to wait until your toddler shows obvious signs that they are ready before you start this transition, though. Some little ones aren’t ready until closer to 18 months.  

In general, your toddler is ready to drop to one nap if they are consistently fighting one or both naps, suddenly taking short naps, pushing naps later than the usual time, or taking two naps is worsening their night sleep. Here is my detailed guide on when and how to transition to one nap.

 

15 month old waking up early

 

Why, oh why, do toddlers love rising with the sun? While it’s true that young children sleep best with early bedtimes, we can expect your little one to sleep until at least 6 am. Anything earlier than this is considered a night waking. 

When I help parents troubleshoot early wakings we look at your baby’s daily schedule to ensure they’re napping enough. We also work on getting your toddler sleep trained and sleeping independently, as this helps them sleep later in the morning. Lastly, we consider any early morning habits that might have formed by exhausted parents being woken at 5 am (ahem, like Peppa Pig.)

There are various reasons your 15 month old could be waking early in the morning. Generally, babies wake this early because their bedroom is too bright, they’re hungry, bedtime is too late, they may have had a bad nap day, or they may not be going to sleep independently (sleep training fixes this.) 

However, if your baby was previously waking at a decent hour, the cause for early wakings may very well be a sleep regression.

Remember, our babies’ brains are on overdrive as they master new developmental skills. In the early morning hours, melatonin, the “sleep hormone”, has worn off causing your little one to wake up early ready to experiment with their new skills. 

If your baby is currently going through the 15 month sleep regression and waking early, you may need to ride it out a few days. But after 1-2 weeks of disrupted sleep, it’s safe to assume that the regression has passed and the best way to get your toddler sleeping later is to begin sleep training.

Check out my proven and gentle sleep training program here. 

 

RELATED: How To Stop Your Toddler Waking at 5 am!

 

Separation anxiety tips

 

Separation anxiety causes your toddler to become unsettled or upset when they are separated from you. This can also be extended into feeling anxious when seeing unfamiliar faces.

Your little one may suddenly cry more, cling onto you when you’re about to leave, display sudden shyness to new people or show insecurity in new places.

Separation anxiety is a normal and healthy part of our children’s lives. It happens on and off in the first few years of their life, especially in the first 1-2 years when they can’t yet fully express themselves verbally. 

Research shows that babies express distress when seeing new faces, or when their caretakers leave the room, as a response to the “unfamiliar.”

When going through big developmental changes, our toddlers are biologically more vulnerable. This makes them cling to the most familiar and loving people around them. It’s their survival instinct!

Going into the crib at bedtime, and being separated from parents, can cause sudden distress for a toddler experiencing separation anxiety. It’s tough for parents who want to continue encouraging independent sleep habits, but who have a toddler who seems to suddenly be afraid of the crib.

One of the methods in my sleep training program was created for little ones struggling with separation anxiety. It allows you to stay with your child, but teach them to sleep in the crib all night. 

If you want to help your little one with their separation anxiety, my brand new FREE ‘Sleep Regression Survival Guide’ explains exactly what you need to do! Separation anxiety is very closely connected to sleep regressions, and you’ll learn all about it in the guide, including what to do to help your toddler through it.

It’s totally free and you can get it here.

 

15 month old sleep training

 

If your 15 month old toddler has never slept through the night, it’s never too late to begin sleep training!

An advantage of sleep training at this age is that most toddlers aren’t able to climb out of the crib yet, which helps sleep training go much easier. At this time when your baby is becoming more mobile and growing up, the need for restorative sleep is as important as ever.

Through sleep training, you’ll be able to help your baby have restful sleep, which gives them enough energy to fuel their days of happy learning and playing. And of course, YOUR rest is a top priority too. When babies sleep through the night, it has been proven that parental mental health improves.

My 21 Days to Peace and Quiet program has detailed sleep training guides, personal support and customizable sleep training methods to fit your family’s needs. I don’t believe in “one size fits all” sleep training – my approach is to help every family find their own path to restful sleep.

 

 

By now you should have a good idea whether the cause of your 15 month old’s sleep struggles is a regression or something else. If this is a recent development, try to ride it out a few days. Many babies bounce back to sleeping well again. 

Whatever the cause, just know that it’s definitely possible to get your 15 month old falling asleep on their own and sleeping all night. Whether you’re sleep training for the first time or doing a quick sleep training “tune up,” a few nights of solid commitment can get your 15 month sleeping great. 

Check out my sleep training program here, which gives you several step-by-step methods to choose from depending on your baby’s age, temperament and your parenting style. When it comes to getting babies sleeping great, there’s always a way!

And don’t forget to download my brand new and FREE Sleep Regression Survival Guide. Click on the guide below to download!

 

a guide for parents to help their baby sleep better

Let’s stay connected!

8 Comments

  1. Olga

    My 15-mo old started to take two short 30-min naps accompanied with crying. His morning nap shortened (or even skipped) at 14.5 months. He also just started walking 4 days ago (right after he turned 15 mo). I wonder if it is a sleep regression or he’s ready for one nap? His schedule has never been very strict because I focused on wakefulness time rather than the clock. I tried one nap for 5 days and he developed a lot of crying around naps which is very frustrating. I sleep trained him at 4 months and he’s been falling asleep on his own since then.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Artemis

      Hi Olga,

      Sorry to hear your 15 month old has been struggling with naps lately.

      The fact that he’s sleep trained is great, it will make it so much easier to help him through this little rough patch!

      There’s a lot going on with your little one’s sleep right now (nap issues & a possible nap transition), so I highly recommend you get our Naps Program so we can provide personalized help. Here is the link:
      https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/naps-getting-downtime-in-the-daytime/

      In the program, you will get all the clarity and guidance you need on your little one’s schedule & naps. If you get the support option, you can talk to us 7 days/week and we can help you with the nap transition as well.

      Since your baby sleeps independently, we can get him back on track (and sleeping amazingly for naps) in no time.

      Hope to see you in the program soon!
      Artemis, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  2. Martyn

    Hi Becca. My son is 14.5 months old and for the past 2 weeks he’s been sleeping worse at night. In recent months he’s been a good sleeper, taking 2 naps a day (40 minutes in the morning (from 9.30am) and around 2 hours in the afternoon (from 12.30pm) and sleeping through from 7.30pm – 7am. However, he now wakes up about 5.45am-6am in the morning, and sometimes wakes during the night. My wife and I are exhausted and we’re wondering what to do. I think this is some form of sleep regression due to naps, so we’ve tried cutting down to 1 nap during the day. Is this right? We’ve kept bedtime the same at around 7.30pm, and he has 1 nap from around 10.30am-1.00pm. The first night he slept through until 6am, but last night he was wide awake at 3am and wouldn’t go back to sleep! I’ve read that for 1 nap babies/toddlers, they shouldn’t be awake for more than 5 hours during the day. Maybe this is a factor as his nap is slightly too early. The problem is that he is ready to sleep by 11am. Should we move his nap slightly later each day until he goes down at 12pm? That way he should (in theory) be awake in the morning for around 5 hours and 5 hours in the afternoon. Any help would be appreciated!

    Reply
    • Artemis

      Hi, Martyn!

      Sounds like your little toddler was sleeping amazingly, until he probably reached a regression.

      From what I understand you need help adjusting his schedule, fixing early wakings, and getting him to sleep through the night. Is that right?

      I think the best place for us to help you is in our sleep training program, 21 Days to Peace and Quiet. The link is here:
      https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/baby-sleep-consultant

      In the program, we can help you with everything you need. Also, it’s been 2 weeks now, which means your baby is passed the regression and he’s now only waking out of habit. You’re ready to start sleep training!

      Hope to help you in the program soon!
      Artemis, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  3. mia

    Love your material! My 15 month girls is having a hard time staying asleep and she gets hungry (its real hunger because she really drinks the whole bottle). She can stay awake 3 hours in the middle of the night, trying to sleep..

    Should I stick to her waking time even if I know she needs sleep?

    Reply
    • Artemis

      Hi, Mia!

      Nice to hear you find Baby Sleep Made Simple helpful 🙂 We appreciate it!

      Yes, even though it can be difficult, always wake your toddler up at the same time every morning. You could just have an early bedtime instead to make up for the bad night.

      If you’re interested in sleep training her, we can help you overcome all the issues you just described in our sleep training program 21 Days to Peace & Quiet. We’d love to help you!

      Here is the link:
      https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/baby-sleep-consultant

      Hope to see you in our program soon, message us any questions you have about sleep training in the chatbot if you’d like!

      Artemis, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  4. Lizelle

    15 month old wakes up screeming and would not settle down matter what.takes 2 to 4 hourd to go back to sleep.

    Reply
    • Becca Fuentes

      Hi Lizelle, I have sent you an email to get a little more information from you so that I can help you the best way that I can! Keep a look out in your inbox and spam folder for an email from support@babysleepmadesimple.com I look forward to hearing from you so we can help you find some answers! Becca, BSMS Support Team

      Reply

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