Baby Sleep Regression
It can be pretty frustrating when a baby who used to sleep soundly starts experiencing sleep problems. One possible reason for this is sleep regression, which is a normal phase and typically resolves with time and consistent routines. Are you noticing that your once-perfect sleeper is waking up in the middle of the night or crying whenever you try to put them down for a nap? If so, it’s possible that sleep regression is the culprit. In this article, we’ll discuss what sleep regression is, when it commonly occurs, how long it can last, and what steps you can take to help your baby get back to sleeping well again.
What is baby sleep regression?
A sleep regression refers to any period of time when your baby appears to regress in terms of sleep or settling behavior. For instance, a baby who previously settled and napped well may suddenly begin to resist naps, or a baby who used to sleep through the night with only 1-2 feeds may now wake up every 2 hours. These changes in sleep and settling are typically associated with developmental milestones.
While it can be overwhelming to experience these regressions, it’s important to remember that they are indicators of your baby’s development progressing as it should. Although their sleep may suffer, the positive news is that your baby is growing, learning, and becoming more engaged with their environment, which is a cause for celebration!
What causes baby sleep regression?
When there is a sudden deterioration in sleep quality, the following is usually the most frequent contributing factors:
- Neurodevelopmental maturation (e.g., the “4-month sleep regression”)
- Sleep-onset associations
- The need for a schedule adjustment
- Travel or other changes in routine
- Milestone mastery (such as crawling, sitting, and standing)
What are the signs of sleep regression?
The primary indication that your little one is experiencing a sleep regression is that their sleeping pattern worsens.
Some common signs to watch for are:
- Your baby’s daytime naps may become shorter.
- They may start waking up more frequently at night.
- They may become overtired due to poor naps and waking up more frequently at night.
- Your baby might resist naps/bedtime and require more assistance in falling asleep.
- Your baby may no longer go back to sleep quickly after waking up.
- General fussiness/irritability with no apparent cause.
- They are not hungry or sick.
At what age do babies go through sleep regressions?
Most babies and toddlers go through five different stages of sleep regression at specific ages:
- As early as 8 weeks – although it’s usually minor.
- Around 4 months.
- Between 8-10 months.
- Between 12-15 months.
- Around 2 years.
How long does a sleep regression last?
The duration of sleep regressions can vary depending on your child’s age and developmental milestones. However, the four-month sleep regression is unique and more significant than the others. It is a permanent change in your baby’s sleep, which will only improve once they learn to self-settle. On the other hand, the other sleep regressions should only last a few weeks and will pass, as long as no new sleep habits develop during this period.
Tips for managing sleep regressions in your baby
Sleep regression can be challenging for parents and caregivers, but there are ways to manage it. Here are some tips:
Establish a consistent sleep routine
A consistent sleep routine can help your baby feel secure and relaxed. Stick to a regular bedtime and nap schedule, and make sure your baby has a quiet, dark, and comfortable sleeping environment.
Encourage daytime naps
Babies who nap during the day are more likely to sleep well at night. Encourage your baby to take regular naps during the day, and avoid overtiredness, which can make it harder for your baby to fall asleep at night.
Check your baby’s sleeping environment
Your baby’s sleeping environment can impact their sleep quality. Make sure the room is cool, quiet, and free from distractions. Use a white noise machine or a fan to create soothing background noise.
Overtiredness can make it harder for your baby to fall asleep at night. Watch for signs of tiredness, such as rubbing eyes or yawning, and put your baby down for a nap before they become overtired.
Be patient and understanding
Sleep regression can be frustrating, but it’s essential to remain patient and understanding. Comfort your baby when they wake up at night, and try to soothe them back to sleep. Remember that sleep regression is temporary and will eventually pass away.
Sleep regression is a common and normal part of a baby’s development. It can be challenging for parents and caregivers, but there are ways to manage it. By establishing a consistent sleep routine, encouraging daytime naps, checking your baby’s sleeping environment, avoiding overtiredness, and being patient and understanding, you can help your baby through this temporary phase.
Sleep regressions in babies and toddlers can differ in timing and duration. Nonetheless, according to specialists, the most typical regressions occur at approximately 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years of age, lasting between 2 and 6 weeks.
There are several signs that your baby may be experiencing a sleep regression, such as more frequent night waking, difficulty falling asleep at bedtime, increased fussiness, and sudden resistance to napping.
Sleep regressions are most commonly observed at 4 months, 8 months, and 18 months of age. The 8-month regression may also be referred to as the 9-month regression, occurring between 8 and 10 months old. These ages often coincide with significant developmental milestones that can cause disruptions in sleep patterns.
It can be frustrating when your baby’s sleeping pattern suddenly changes from its normal routine. However, the good news is that sleep regressions typically last between two to six weeks, and your baby’s sleep patterns will return to normal just as suddenly as they changed.
Sleep regressions usually occur for a duration of 2 to 6 weeks. The extent to which a baby is able to establish healthy sleep habits and naturally connect sleep cycles on their own determines how soon they can improve their sleep after the 4-month regression.