If you great sleeping toddler suddenly regresses, well, it’s just a regression. It’s happened for whatever reason and we need to work out what we’re going to do to try to overcome it. I would be making sure I have a nightlight in his room. He may be at an age where he’s suddenly scared of being alone in the when it wasn’t an issue when he was younger.
If there isn’t a nightlight, I would recommend getting one and hopefully one that lights up red or pink because those are the two colours that interfere with the secretion of melatonin least. The next thing I would be wondering is if your little one has a lot of one on one time with you during the day. Sometimes at this age, they can start to resist bedtime because they feel like they haven’t had enough time with you during the day. Then they’re like, “If I act up now, I’ll get the attention that I want.” Make sure you do lots of things with him during the day and lots of one-on-one time, particularly in the time leading up to bedtime.
Another thing would be to create a really relaxing environment with the track that I always recommend for this age. It’s called “Weightless” by Marconi Union. Playing this in the room can lower the anxiety in humans. That might be helpful.
Apart from all those things, I think it’s probably just a case of separation anxiety and he’s just all of a sudden not cool with you not being there. If you’re just walking in and out whilst checking on him, I’d suggest not doing this, because it is probably just going to stimulate him even more and make him more upset and anxious about you leaving again. I would probably advise you sitting there with him because then we know that he knows you’re there and everything is okay. We can rule out fear and anxiety around that.
Sit there with him and then work out a plan on how you can wean off that, whether it’s gradually moving out of the room or spending less and less time there or getting up and pretending to do jobs or whatever. So the key is to ease him off bit by bit, but remain consistent!
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