Health & Fitness

3-Year-Old Sleep Regression: What Are Its Main Symptoms & Causes?

If you are a bit worried about your toddlers sleeping pattern then this article might give you a little bit more clarity on it. Sleep ...

by Kendra Reed

3-Year-Old Sleep Regression: What Are Its Main Symptoms & Causes?

If you are a bit worried about your toddlers sleeping pattern then this article might give you a little bit more clarity on it. Sleep regression is when there is a disruption in the sleep wake cycle of your child. And at around 3 to 3.5 it is usually observed that toddlers tend to be a bit more hesitant to go to bed or are waking up in the middle of the night. If your kid is doing so, do not worry, this might be quite normal than you thought. Now let us dive a bit deeper into the issue and study the signs, causes and how to deal with it and so much more. So without further delay let us get right into it.

Signs And Symptoms Of 3-Year-Old Sleep Regression

Here are some of the signs and symotomns to look put for if your toddlers is going through sleep regression phase.

  • Your baby might be taking hours to fall asleep
  • Increased frequencies if waking up in the night
  • Refusing to take a nap and is frustrated due to the lack of nap time
  • Calling out for you more or finding ways to stall the nighttime routine
Signs And Symptoms Of 3-Year-Old Sleep Regression

Causes Of Sleep Regression At Age 3

There might be many reasons why your kid is facing this issue. Let us take a look at some of the common causes.

  • Anxiety: Experiencing big changes be it potty training, gaining a new sibling, weaning, a new babysitter etc might cause them to have anxiety which may lead to some issues with sleeping
  • Nightmares: Even we adults may get startled with bad dreams and sometimes it may ruin our sleep as well. So be a bit more patient with your little ones who are yet to figure out that dreams are not real and they have no reason to believe that they are in danger
  • Wrong nap timing: Naps that are way too long or that are near bedtime might be another reason why your baby struggles with sleeping at night.  

The Impact Of Sleep Regression On Family Life

Of course, nighttime is when your body needs its sleep and it is no new news that sleep is essential for both mental and physical well being. It helps rejuvenate your body and calm your mind. You need your daily dose of sleep to properly function. So when your toddler is about up at the middle of the night and then at the crack of dawn it might be a bit frustrating. Plus your toddler also needs its well-rested sleep and if it is disrupted it might frustrate those tiny people. Getting your toddler to sleep might be a task for some parents and it might take a toll on your well-being. So if you are feeling like you cannot take control of the situation then it is better to consult with a pediatrician and understand what is actually going with your baby. 

Strategies For Managing 3-Year-Old Sleep Regression

  • Solid sleep routine: Maintain good sleeping habits by following a disciplined nighttime routine. You can start the unwinding process by an early dinner, bath, a reading session, and a little bit of cuddle time with your parents. Also, make it a point to reduce screen time before the nighttime routine. The recommended time is 2 hours before your toddler’s bedtime.
  •  Prioritizing quiet time: If your toddler is hesitant to go for naps, then you can introduce quiet time. You can let the toddler stay in his room quietly playing or sitting alone and if they want you can give them the option to lie down too.
  • Bathroom visits prior to bedtime: Make sure that your toddler does the bathroom activities before tucking in so that the chances of them waking in the middle of the night for peeing or pooping might be low.   

Common Mistakes To Avoid During Sleep Regression

Some of the major mistakes that you must avoid at all costs are given below Go through them and make sure that you are not doing any of these to stop the sitation from aggravating. 

  • Do not shift the sleeping environment: Make sure you are not changing the babys bedroom or sleep environment as it may worsen the regression.   
  •  Stop being inconsistent with your babys nighttime routine. Developing a solid routine amy help with healthier sleep habits.
  • Too much screentime before bed, playing loud music and TV programes might distract your baby from the routine.


Sleep regression might be a difficult time for your baby and your family. But this can be tackled with a little bit of patience and good routine in the majority of the cases. And for most people these sleep regressions end within few weeks. But if you are feeling tired or helpless then do not beat yourself up and consult with a pediatrician. They may guide you through the situation. Every babys situation is different. Some kids may not have such an issue, but some might have them. It is ok and totally normal for kids to go through this sleep regression phase. Just try your best to be gentle with the baby and yourself and you will be able to navigate this situation.


1. How long does the 3 year sleep regression last?

It usually differs, however, in the majority of cases, this may last for a few days to six weeks.

2. Why is my 3 year old all of a sudden not sleeping?

This might be due to sleep regression and it quite normal for toddlers from 3 to 3.5 years to experience it. Other physical discomforts may also lead to this situation. If your baby is teething or has any infections or illnesses it can cause difficulty in sleeping.

3. What to do when your 3 year old keeps waking up at night?

Be patient with your babies but do not rush to pick them up. Most often they might be whimpering in sleep. But if you feel like it is genuine then check on them. Otherwise gently pat their back and put them back to sleep.

4. What’s a good bedtime for a 3-year-old?

A good time for toddlers would be around 8 pm. So you can try putting them to bed around 7. It is better not to delay it than 8:30.


  • Kendra Reed

    Dr. Kendra Reed is a dedicated general medicine physician with 7 years of clinical experience. After graduating from medical school, she completed her residency in internal medicine, developing a well-rounded skillset in diagnosing and treating a diverse range of conditions. Patients appreciate Dr. Reed's warm bedside manner and commitment to providing comprehensive, personalized care. In addition to her clinical work, she is actively involved in community outreach programs, educating the public on important health topics. Dr. Reed is known for her ability to establish trusting relationships with her patients and help them achieve their wellness goals.

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