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20 Months Sleep Regression: Causes & Tips For Parents

A 20 months old baby is facing sleep disruption at night

The 20-month sleep regression is a challenging phase that many toddlers and their parents experience. During this period, toddlers may suddenly struggle with their sleep patterns, leading to frequent nighttime awakenings, resistance to bedtime, and shorter naps.

This regression is frequently ascribed to various factors, including teething, developmental milestones, separation anxiety, or alterations in routine.

While it can be frustrating for parents, it’s essential to remember that it is a temporary phase, and with patience, consistency, and soothing bedtime routines, most toddlers eventually return to their normal sleep patterns.

Seeking advice from pediatricians or sleep experts can also provide valuable strategies for managing this regression and helping both toddlers and parents get the rest they need.

What Is 20 Month Sleep Regression?

Sleep disturbance is a phrase employed to depict a phase when a formerly proficient sleeper encounters sudden challenges in both falling asleep and remaining asleep.

It can be a demanding time for parents as it disrupts established sleep routines and leaves everyone feeling tired and irritated.

These regressions typically occur at various stages of a child’s development, including 6 months sleep regression, 10 month sleep regression, 13 month sleep regression, 15 months sleep regression, 16 month sleep regression and yes, 20 months sleep regression.

Symptoms Of 20 Months Sleep Regression

Difficulty Falling Asleep

Your toddler may have trouble falling asleep at bedtime, which can lead to prolonged bedtime routines.

Nighttime Wakings

Young children who used to have uninterrupted nighttime sleep might begin experiencing more frequent awakenings during the night. These nighttime awakenings can be short or prolonged.

Protest Against Bedtime 

Your child might resist going to bed altogether, expressing a strong desire to stay awake.

Increased Crying and Irritability

Disrupted sleep can lead to increased irritability and moodiness during the day. Your child may be more prone to tantrums and meltdowns.

Changes in Sleep Schedule

Your toddler’s sleep schedule may become erratic, with naps shorter or longer than usual, or daytime naps may be skipped altogether.


Some toddlers may toss and turn more during sleep, leading to a restless night’s sleep.

Nightmares or Night Terrors

The 20-month sleep regression can coincide with the development of nightmares or night terrors, causing your child to wake up scared and upset.

See also: Newborn Witching Hour

Increased Attachment 

Your child may become more attached to a favorite stuffed animal or security blanket as a way to seek comfort during the night.

Teething Discomfort

If your toddler is still teething at 20 months, teething discomfort can contribute to nighttime awakenings and fussiness.

Changes In Appetite

Sleep disruptions can sometimes affect a toddler’s appetite, causing them to eat more or less than usual.

See also: 11 Months Sleep Regression

Causes Of The 20 Months Sleep Regression

Intellectual Growth

Around 20 months, toddlers experience significant intellectual growth. Their brains are undergoing rapid development, and they are becoming increasingly conscious of the world surrounding them.

In addition, this newfound awareness can lead to increased nighttime awakenings as they process their thoughts.

Separation Anxiety

Attachment-related distress typically reaches its highest point around the 18-24 month stage. Your toddler may become clingier and more fearful of being alone, making it difficult for them to settle at bedtime or during the night.


Many toddlers continue to teethe well into their second year. Teething discomfort can disrupt sleep and cause your child to wake up crying.

Changes in Routine

Any alterations in your young child’s daily schedule, like moving from a crib to a toddler bed or commencing preschool, can induce sleep disruption.

Related: 14 Month Sleep Regression

Tips To Manage The 20 Month Sleep Regression

Now that we understand why the 20 month sleep regression occurs, and it’s symptoms, let’s explore some practical tips to help you and your child through this phase:

Stick to a Regular Bedtime Ritual

Creating a soothing bedtime ritual can effectively convey to your child that it’s bedtime. Consistency is key, so stick to the same routine every night.

Provide solace and offer reassurance

If your child awakens during the night, provide solace and provide reassurance. A gentle pat on the back or a soothing lullaby can help them settle back to sleep.

Establish a Cozy Sleeping environment 

Ensure that the sleeping environment for your child encourages a sense of calm and relaxation. A dim, serene area with a cozy mattress and climate control can have a significant impact.

Address Separation Anxiety

Reassure your child during the day by spending quality time together. Gradually work on their independence during waking hours to reduce nighttime anxiety.

Be Patient

Remember that sleep regressions are temporary phases. Be patient and understanding, knowing that this challenging period will pass.

Gradual Sleep Training

 If sleep training is necessary, consider a gradual approach that involves minimal crying, such as the “Ferber method.” 

Related: 24 Month Sleep Regression

20 Months Sleep Schedule

On average, a 20-month-old toddler generally requires about 11-14 hours of sleep daily, encompassing both nighttime slumber and daytime naps.

Here’s a sleep schedule for a 20-month-old:

Age: 20 MonthsSleep DurationTime
Nighttime Sleep10-12 hours (approx.)7:00 PM to 8:00 PM (varies)
Naps1-2 naps
Morning Nap (if two naps)1.5 hours (approx.)10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Afternoon Nap (if two naps)1.5 hours (approx.)2:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Total Nap Duration2-3 hours (approx.)
Wake Up Time6:30 AM to 7:30 AM
Bedtime7:00 PM to 8:00 PM (varies)

How long does a 20 months sleep regression last

Typically, a sleep regression at this stage might endure for several weeks to a couple of months. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s a temporary phase, and with consistency in bedtime routines and parenting strategies, most children eventually return to their regular sleep patterns.

In addition, if you’re concerned about your child’s sleep regression lasting an extended period, or if it’s severely impacting their sleep and daily functioning, it’s a good idea to consult with a pediatrician or a sleep specialist for guidance and support.

See also: Baby Witching Hour

FAQs About 20 Months Sleep Regression 
What does sleep regression look like?

Sleep regression in toddlers often manifests as sudden disruptions in sleep patterns, including frequent nighttime awakenings, resistance to bedtime, and shorter naps. It’s typically linked to developmental changes, teething, or disruptions in routine.

Should I ignore the toddler crying at night?

It’s essential to assess the reason for your toddler’s crying. While some self-soothing is normal, ensure they’re not hungry, uncomfortable, or in distress before considering gradual sleep training methods.

What’s the worst sleep regression?

The sleep regression occurring at 4 months of age is frequently regarded as one of the most demanding, as it aligns with notable developmental shifts.
However, the impact varies among children, and all regressions can be tough.

How do you break sleep regression?

To break sleep regression, establish a consistent bedtime routine, maintain a calming sleep environment, and ensure your child is well-rested during the day. Gradual sleep training methods may also help.

What are 20 month old milestones?

At 20 months, toddlers typically achieve milestones like increased vocabulary (50+ words), improved motor skills, using utensils, simple pretend play, identifying body parts, and showing more independence in daily tasks.

Conclusion of 20 Months Sleep Regression

To sum it up, the 20-month sleep regression can be a demanding period for both parents and children, characterized by disturbances in sleep routines.

Understanding the causes and symptoms is crucial. While it may be tough, it’s a temporary developmental phase. Consistency in bedtime routines, addressing separation anxiety, and seeking guidance from professionals can help toddlers return to their normal sleep habits.

Furthermore, parents should remember that sleep regressions are common, seek support if needed, and know that this phase is temporary, ultimately leading to peaceful nights again.

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