17 Month Sleep Regression: Here’s All You Need To Know!

Author Image By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH •  Updated: 08/18/23 •  Sleep / Sleep Regressions

Is your toddler suddenly fighting sleep? Being fussy? Struggling to settle? The 17 month sleep regression has arrived. Here’s what that means, and what exhausted parents need to know to get through it.

What Is The 17 Month Sleep Regression?

How Long Does The 17 Month Sleep Regression Last?

The 17 month sleep regression, like all sleep regressions, commonly lasts between 2 and 6 weeks depending on the trigger.

17 Month Sleep Regression Featured

17 Month Sleep Regression Signs

If you suspect your little one is experiencing a 17 month sleep regression, here are some of the signs that will confirm your suspicions:

So, if you are nodding your head in agreement whilst reading this list… Then your little one is almost certainly experiencing a sleep regression.

Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly through a healthy nighttime routine? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

Causes Of The 17 Month Sleep Regression

There are a variety of causes of the 17 month sleep regression. But if I had to narrow them down, these are the top causes of sleep regressions that every parent should be aware of.

Causes Of The 17 Month Sleep Regression

1. Newfound Independence

Your toddler’s growing sense of independence at this age may make them push and resist boundaries around naps and bedtimes, resulting in them becoming overtired and finding it difficult to settle and or stay asleep.

2. Changing Sleep Needs

Around this age, you may need to adjust your child’s daytime sleep times, especially if newfound skills are making them more tired.

If they have started daycare they may need more sleep for a while as they adjust to the new routine. Alternatively, some 17 month olds may only need 1 long nap during the day.

3. Reaching Big Physical, Mental And Emotional Milestones

A lot is going on developmentally around the 18-month mark with your little one perfecting the art of walking, climbing and talking.

There is a lot going on cognitively as well as they become increasingly aware of the world around them and their place in it at a rapid rate. All that extra brain and body activity can easily disrupt their sleep!

4. Their Routine And Sleep Environment Has Changed

Moving house, going on holiday or visiting family overnight can all trigger a sleep regression.

And any major changes in routine could also upset an established sleep schedule such as starting daycare, parents returning to work or the primary caregiver changing.

5. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is also very common at this age and will make it difficult for your little one to fall asleep and then for them to become distressed when they wake up in the night and discover you’re not with them.

6. They’re Teething!

Your toddler’s first molars may start to erupt at this age. If your little one is experiencing pain due to teething their sleep is very likely to be disrupted for a short while and although this is not a true sleep regression in itself, it may trigger one.

Investing in a teething toy can help soothe your baby resulting in helping them sleep better.

7. They Are Unwell

Like teething, illness may cause a sleep disruption for a short period of time and although this is not a true sleep regression, sickness can trigger a brief one as your little one may have been used to you responding to every cry or unsettled sleep while they were unwell.

How Much Sleep Do 17 Month Olds Need?

Your 17 month old should be having between 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period with the bulk of this being taken at night and the remainder over 1 or 2 naps.

Tips To Get Through The 17 Month Sleep Regression

Sleep regressions are tough, there is no question about that.

However, there are things you can do to help you and your child get through the 17 month sleep regression and come out the other side with your healthy sleep habits intact.

17 Month Sleep Regression Tips

1. Stick To Your Routines

I cannot stress how maintaining a healthy daily and bedtime routines will help to keep you sane and keep your little ones healthy development on track.

I know life gets in the way sometimes, but being super vigilant about nap times, meal times and bedtimes, during a sleep regression will make your life so much easier during this time.

Ensuring your little one gets consistent cues in preparation for sleep will go a long way in helping your little one fall asleep during a sleep regression.

So, if you have to cancel a few plans over the coming weeks to ensure you’re at home for naps and bedtime, it will be worth it in the long run.

2. Get Outside Every Day

Fresh air is a great way to ensure your toddler gets some physical exercise and an opportunity to practise their new skills such as walking, running and climbing.

Fresh air also helps to stabilise their circadian rhythm.

3. Have Lots Of Cuddles

Sleep regressions can sometimes make your little one feel less secure. Offering extra cuddles and snuggle time can help reassure them as they navigate this tricky phase.

4. Take A Look At Mealtimes

It is very tempting to feed your baby in order to get them back to sleep… however, this is not a habit you want to continue.

Try offering a healthy pre-bedtime snack such as apple slices, peanut butter, or some yoghurt before bed to help them sleep through the night.

5. Keep Nighttime Interactions Low-Key

If your little one wakes at night then it’s super important to keep your interactions low-key. Have the lights down low and do not chat to

them. A night light is a great investment as it stops you from having to turn on a light when visiting them at night.

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  • A USB adapter is not included for charging.
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  • Battery life varies based on the brightness settings.
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6. Adjust Nap Times And Bedtimes

This can be a tricky phase when it comes to naps and you might be tempted to drop naps in the hope that your toddler will be more tired for bed and sleep better at night.

However, as I say over and over, less daytime sleep does NOT mean better nighttime sleep.

In fact, the complete opposite happens.

An overtired toddler is not going to go to bed peacefully or quietly.

Their bodies will be stressed and full of adrenaline…

And this is not ideal when getting ready for bed because your little one will be hyper instead.

If your toddler is transitioning from 2 naps to 1, you need to make sure that their nap is taken at a consistent time each day (preferably after lunch) and that they have had an adequately active morning to be ready for sleep.

7. Teach Your Little One To Self-Settle

If you have not done so already, try and teach your little one to self-settle. Allow them to spend time playing in their cribs or a playpen during awake times and put them down whilst drowsy and not fast asleep.

When they fuss, try not to pick them up everytime they wake.

It is very easy to fall into bad habits during a sleep regression so if your little one is waking more at night try leaving them to fuss for a short time when they wake, as they may just fall back to sleep without you having to go to them.

If however, they start to become distressed, you should go to them.

8. Make Their Sleep Space More Conducive To Sleep

Now your little one getting older they will be more easily woken by sleep distractions and noise. So, darken the bedroom using blackout blinds and use a nightlight.

During a 17 month sleep regression your little one needs to be sleeping in a calm, dimly lit room.

Using a white noise machine can eliminate background noise from disturbing their sleep too. They will help to ensure that sudden changes in noise will have less of an impact on your sleeping baby.

My Top Pick
Dreamegg White Noise Machine - 21 Soothing Sounds

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9. Help Your Little One Practice New Skills

It is important that you give your toddler plenty of opportunity to practice any new skills during wake times so that they are not desperate to do so when they should be sleeping.

Provide them with toys to help them walk, opportunities to learn to climb safely, play with construction toys such as building blocks and try simple puzzles too.

Read lots of books to encourage speech and cognitive development.

Paula's Pick
Lovevery Building Block Set

Possibly the most comprehensive wooden block set ever created!

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Our Top Pick
Le Toy Van - Petilou Wooden Walker Toy for Toddlers and Babies

Another toy staple is the baby walker and there are a lot out there to choose from. I really like this one from Le Toy Van. It is eco friendly, safe and sturdy and will be a firm favourite with your toddler before, during and after they learn to walk independently!

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10. Consider The Gradual Retreat Method

While I would not advocate letting your little one cry it out while experiencing a sleep regression... Trying gentle sleep training such as the gradual retreat method can often get your toddler’s sleep back on track.

To learn more about this sleep training method, read this: Gradual Retreat Method

Looking After Yourself During A Sleep Regression

As parents, we often forget to look after ourselves. Our children are our priority, and everything else falls into second place.

However, insufficient sleep will undoubtedly make us short-tempered and cranky… And at the best of times, looking after a toddler requires lots of energy and patience.

So to help yourself through toddler sleep regressions remember to:

Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you are struggling or feeling irritated. Sleep disruption and parenting go hand in hand…

But you can navigate these sleep regressions if you stick to established routines, understand what is going on in your toddler’s development and hold on to the fact that this is just a phase that will pass if handled correctly.

How Will I Know When The 17 Month Sleep Regression Is Over?

When your toddler settles back into a settled sleep schedule consisting of regular daytime naps and a consistent bedtime routine with little to no waking at night, you can safely say that the regression has passed.

Frequently Asked Questions About The 17 Month Sleep Regression

Looking for more information about the 17 month sleep regression? Check out the most commonly asked questions here.

Why Is My 17 Month Old Suddenly Waking At Night?

If your 17 month old has been sleeping beautifully and suddenly starts waking at night this may be due to a number of triggers including teething or achieving a developmental milestone, starting daycare, newfound independence or changing sleep needs.

While you should always rule out any illness that may be affecting your little one, if all is well then you should deal with your little one’s nighttime waking and or nap resistance as a sleep regression and follow the tips listed above.

Is There A Developmental Leap At 17 Months?

Your 17 month old will have a lot going on developmentally such as:

With all this activity going on in your little one’s development they may easily find it hard to wind down and fall asleep or stay asleep thus triggering a change in their sleep cycles ending in a sleep regression.

Can Toddler Night Terrors Trigger A Sleep Regression?

Night terrors are usually a result of your little one being overtired or suffering from separation anxiety… This can in itself trigger a sleep regression and sleepless nights.

It is, therefore, important that your toddler is getting to bed at an appropriate time and that you are addressing any separation anxiety issues they might be having.

Are the 17 Month Sleep Regression And 18 Month Sleep Regression The Same?

18 months of age is considered to be one of the more common ages at which sleep challenges and sleep regressions may occur. However, a sleep regression can happen at any age.

If your toddler experiences a sleep regression at 17 months it does not mean that they will definitely experience another one at 18 months.

Should I Let My 17 Month Old Cry It Out?

Letting your 17-month-old cry it out is NOT going to cure a sleep regression or make it pass any more quickly.

Sleep regressions are challenging and you will need to be patient and help your little one through this tricky phase by following the guidelines outlined in this post.

You could also consider trying gentle sleep training such as the gradual retreat method to get things back on track.

When Do I Need To Talk To A Doctor About The 17 Month Sleep Regression?

If you are unsure if your little one’s sleep disturbances are due to a sleep regression, watch for the following signs. If they are present then you should consult a doctor:

If your little one has a persistent fever or a cough which is waking them at night you should also consult a medical practitioner.

If bad sleep issues continue for more than a couple of months, you should also seek medical advice.

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Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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