When Do Babies Go Through Sleep Regressions

What is a sleep regression anyway?? A sleep regression is a developmental PROgression where your baby is learning new and exciting skills. While these new physical and mental skills are a great step in your child’s development, they can cause sudden sleep problems that throw parents for a loop. It’s hard at the moment but try to remember that these developmental milestones are normal and 100% temporary. Some of the key indicators of a sleep regression are middle of the night wakeups that weren’t happening prior, short naps or struggling to fall asleep, increased crankiness or fussiness. There are lots of developmental periods in your child’s first 2 years of life, they are caused by a number of reasons and I’m here to help explain them for you and provide effective ways in dealing with them.

When Do Babies Go Through Sleep Regressions

4 – month sleep regression

The infamous 4 month sleep regression. It’s spoken about so often that I have many clients reach out in hopes that I can magically make it disappear. I’m good, but I’m not that good! It often feels like this happens as soon as your baby started sleeping through the night. Have no fear, this is a great time to work on independent sleep skills. This means that if you’ve been feeding your baby to sleep or rocking, bouncing, etc., they now have the ability to learn how to put themselves to sleep, they will need some instruction from you on how to do this. This is the skill we teach when we sleep train. Learn more about my services and how I support families here.

This regression is actually a developmental PROgression when you baby suddenly starts learning new and exciting skills. It’s also when your babies sleep cycles are maturing and changing and they are developing new sleep patterns. This is why we are able to work on independent sleep skills at 4 months of age – ah ha! This is the skill of teaching a child how to fall asleep on their own so that they can fall and stay asleep without parental involvement.

How to deal with the 4-month sleep regression

Signs

  • Increased night wakings
  • Short naps 
  • Try to roll over when put into sleep space
  • Getting distracted more easily 

New skills

  • Rolling
  • Trying to flip over
  • Suddenly more aware of surroundings and people coming and going (hello separation anxiety!)
  • Changes in sleep cycles

Tips

  • Stick to your regular bedtime routine
  • Move bedtime up if naps are short (5pm is an acceptable bedtime!)
  • Consistent response to overnight wakeups and short naps
  • Work on independent sleep skills

8-month sleep regression

It may feel like things were steady for a few months and then BAM, your baby discovers how to get on their hands and knees and maybe, just maybe pull themselves up to stand. At this age, your baby will spend more time trying to master these new found physical skills and deelopments.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

This sleep regression is primarily caused by physical developments like scooting, crawling or pulling to stand. At around 8 months, your baby might also be ready to drop the 3rd nap. If your baby isn’t falling asleep for the 3rd nap or it’s falling too late in the day, it is time to drop it!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Have no fear, this is an exciting time for your baby. They are learning new, physical skills! Stay consistent with your sleep routines and sleep training method. If the 3rd nap gets harder for them to settle for or is going to go past 5pm, it’s time to drop it!

How to deal with the 8-month sleep regression

Signs

  • Trying to crawl, scoot or going up on hands and knees 
  • Pulling to stand
  • Disrupted naps during the day
  • Overnight wakings

New skills

  • Crawling
  • Scooting
  • Army crawl
  • Pulling to stand
  • Babbling

Tips

  • Practice new skills while awake 
  • Maintain routine and sleep schedule
  • Stick to your regular bedtime routine
  • Use early bedtime if naps were off 
  • Drop 3rd nap if ready 

12-month sleep regression ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

There are A LOT of developmental milestones that take place around 12 months. There are growth spurts, physical and verbal developments, it seems like a lot but these milestones are exciting!

At 12 months, your child is also entering toddlerhood – woohoo … right?! Toddlerhood is a whole new phase of development, they are slowly learning how to verbalize and communicate. They are also observing your actions, feelings and emotions. You may start to see your child imitate you or try to repeat your phrases (be careful if you have a potty mouth like me!). They can also pick up on your reactions, if they have a tantrum because they couldn’t put a toy together and you rush over the fix it, you best believe they will have a tantrum the next time they can’t put the toy together. Try to let your child learn new things, including frustrations, these are all valid feelings and emotions that they have to learn. While it can be hard to watch, I promise they will learn to work through them!

How to deal with the 12-month sleep regression

Signs

  • Trying to walk
  • Pulling to stand
  • Babbling
  • Trouble falling asleep or settling down at bedtime and nap time⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • More frequent nighttime wake-ups⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Skipping a nap⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

New skills

  • Walking
  • Pulling to stand
  • Babbling
  • New found independence

Tips

  • Practice new skills while awake 
  • Keep your toddler active and stimulated during the day
  • Maintain routine and sleep schedule
  • Continue to offer 2 naps!
  • Use early bedtime if naps were off 

2 year sleep regression ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Thankfully this is the last of the regressions. This one can take place at 18 months – 2 years old depending on the child. This regression is all about toddlerhood and your child’s social-emotional growth and development. 

As part of their social-emotional growth, your child may start to express fears. If they do, validate the fear and then move on. You can use fear spray (water and glitter) to spray their room before bed or add a book that addresses fears into your bedtime routine. Try to limit any show or video that may be leading to the fear.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

How to deal with the 2 year sleep regression

Signs

  • Resistance to nap or bedtime
  • Long time to fall asleep
  • Trouble to fall back asleep
  • Overnight wake ups 
  • Separation anxiety
  • Expressing fears ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

New skills

  • Language development
  • Physical development
  • Social development 

Tips

  • Ensure safety in your childs room, especially if they start to try to escape crib
  • Maintain routine
  • Avoid screen time at least an hour before sleep
  • Implement a longer wind down period to prepare mind and body to restful sleep
  • Enable boundaries

Can you work on sleep while your child is going through a sleep regression? Excellent question and the answer is YES! You can work on creating healthy sleep habits while your child is working on new physical and mental developmental skills. Young children’s sensitivity to the sleep regressions is different. Some parents don’t even know their child is working on a new developmental skill because they show no signs. Other babies, the majority, shows the signs above when they are in a regression so it’s clear to parents that they are working on a new skill. Either way, there is nothing you can do to help your child work through these developmental milestones and they can learn the skill of sleep during this time! If you are hesitant to work on sleep habits while they are in a regression that’s okay too, you can absolutely wait until they seem to have worked through the regression and pick back up on sleep skills!

This may be overwhelming to read but try to remember that regressions (I loathe this word) are in fact PROGRESSIONS, your child is doing exactly what they should be doing! They’re growing and developing and with all of that can come some wonky sleep or unfamiliar behavior – cue the fussiness! Another reminder, every child is different. The timing of these regressions are generally around these ages but every child’s timeline varies slightly! If you’re stuck after a regression and need help getting back on track, please reach out to me!

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