Toddler Regression

Toddler Regression: A Guide To Supporting Your Toddler

Updated on July 5, 2024

Parenthood is a remarkable journey filled with moments of joy, discovery, and the occasional challenge. One of these challenges that many parents encounter is toddler regression – a phase where toddlers seem to backtrack in their development, returning to behaviours they had previously outgrown. While it can be perplexing and sometimes frustrating for parents, understanding this phenomenon and knowing how to support your child through it can make all the difference.

In this guide, we’ll delve into what toddler regression entails, explore its possible causes, and most importantly, offer practical strategies for parents to navigate this phase with patience, empathy, and confidence. Let’s embark on this journey together, empowering you to provide the best support for your toddler during times of regression.

What Is Toddler Regression?

Toddler regression refers to a temporary period during which toddlers revert to earlier behaviours or developmental stages that they had previously moved beyond. These regressions can manifest in various ways, such as returning to thumb sucking, bedwetting, clinginess, or difficulty with language skills.

This behaviour can be triggered by various factors, including changes in the child’s environment, such as a new sibling, starting daycare, moving to a new home, or parental stress. It can also occur during times of illness or transitions in the child’s routine.

Toddler regression is considered a normal part of development and typically resolves on its own as the child adapts to new situations or gains new skills. However, it can be challenging for parents to manage, requiring patience, understanding, and support.

Causes Of Toddler Regression

Toddler regression can be caused by various factors, including:

Stress or Anxiety: Toddlers may regress in response to stressors or changes in their environment, such as starting daycare, moving to a new home, or the arrival of a new sibling. These transitions can disrupt their sense of security and stability, leading to regression as a coping mechanism.

Major Life Events: Significant life events, such as parental separation, divorce, illness, or the loss of a loved one, can trigger regression in toddlers. These events can be emotionally challenging for young children to comprehend and may manifest in regression behaviours.

Developmental Milestones: Toddler regression can occur when children are going through major developmental milestones, such as learning to walk, talk, or toilet train. The pressure to acquire new skills may cause temporary setbacks in previously mastered behaviours.

Changes In Routine: Any disruptions to a toddler’s routine, such as changes in caregivers, nap times, or meal schedules, can contribute to regression. Toddlers thrive on consistency and predictability, so alterations to their routines can be unsettling and lead to regression.

Parental Stress Or Conflict: Toddlers are highly attuned to their parents’ emotions and may regress in response to parental stress or conflict. Tension within the household can create an atmosphere of insecurity for the child, prompting regression as a means of seeking comfort and reassurance.

Attention-Seeking Behavior: In some cases, toddler regression may be a form of attention-seeking behaviour. If a child feels neglected or overlooked, they may revert to earlier behaviours as a way of garnering attention from caregivers.

Illness or Trauma: Physical illness, injury, or trauma can also trigger regression in toddlers. Pain or discomfort may cause them to seek comfort from familiar behaviours or regress to a time when they feel more secure.

Understanding the potential causes of toddler regression can help parents identify triggers and provide appropriate support and guidance to their child during this challenging phase of development.

Tips To Fix Toddler Regression

Stay Calm And Patient: When faced with toddler regressions, maintaining a calm demeanour is paramount. Recognize that these phases are typically transient and are a natural part of your child’s development. Patience will be your greatest asset during these times, enabling you to respond to your toddler’s needs with a steady and reassuring presence.

Reassure With Extra Attention: Toddlers may regress due to changes or stressors in their environment. Offer them additional attention and reassurance during these periods. Engage in quality time together through play, cuddles, or reading. Your undivided attention will help them feel secure and supported.

Maintain Consistent Routines: Consistency fosters a sense of stability for toddlers. Endeavour to uphold regular routines, including mealtimes, nap time, and bedtime rituals. Predictability can help alleviate anxiety and facilitate a smoother transition through regression phases.

Communicate And Empathize: Despite their limited vocabulary, toddlers possess a keen understanding of emotions. Communicate with your child using simple language to validate their feelings. Demonstrating empathy will go a long way in helping them feel understood and valued.

Offer Comfort And Security: Create a nurturing and secure environment for your toddler. Provide them with their favourite comfort items, whether it’s a cherished blanket or a beloved stuffed animal. This sense of security will serve as a stabilizing force during periods of regression.

Seek Professional Guidance If Needed: If regression persists or appears to be linked to significant changes, consider seeking guidance from a paediatrician or child counselling psychologist. These professionals can offer invaluable insights and personalized advice tailored to your child’s specific circumstances.

Remember, toddler regression is a temporary phase, and with your unwavering support and understanding, you can help your child navigate through it with confidence and resilience. Trust in your instincts as a parent and cherish the precious moments of growth and development along the way.


In conclusion, toddler regression is a common yet temporary phase in a child’s development, often triggered by various factors such as stress, major life events, developmental milestones, changes in routine, parental stress, attention-seeking behaviour, illness, or trauma. While it can be challenging for parents to witness their child exhibiting behaviours they had previously outgrown, it’s essential to approach regression with patience, empathy, and understanding.

As parents, it’s crucial to create a supportive environment that fosters security and stability for our toddlers during times of regression. By staying calm, maintaining consistent routines, offering reassurance, communicating effectively, and seeking professional guidance if needed, we can help our children navigate through regression with resilience and confidence.

Remember, toddler regression is a natural part of your child’s development journey, and with your unwavering love and support, they will emerge from this phase stronger and more resilient than before. Trust in your instincts as a parent, cherish the precious moments of growth and learning, and know that you are not alone in this journey. Together, we can empower our toddlers to thrive, no matter the challenges they may face along the way.

How can we best support our toddlers through periods of regression?

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References: Unicef


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