How to tackle your baby’s sleep regression
Everything you need to know about this tiring phase
Sleep regression refers to a small period of time when your baby or toddler starts to wake up at night for seemingly no reason
The reason for this sleep regression is usually that your baby is going through a lot of new changes and developments
The main thing you can do during a sleep regression is to stay consistent
When you found out you were having a baby, you probably figured you’d be in store for some sleepless nights. You may not have realized these would still come after your sweet little one was sleeping through the night.
From teething to bad dreams, grab some coffee, and let’s dive into everything you need to know about sleep regressions.
What is sleep regression?
Sleep regression refers to a small period of time when your baby or toddler starts to wake up at night for seemingly no reason. This can also happen at nap time. A toddler may start cutting naps short or have trouble falling asleep.
The sleep regression may last for a few days to a couple of weeks. When your baby or toddler was sleeping through the night for quite some time, this can throw everyone in the house out of whack.
It can be a frustrating and tiring time for both you and your baby. While it may seem like a sleep regression comes out of nowhere, there are some patterns and reasons behind these dark times.
What causes sleep regression?
It’s important to note that every baby is different. While your first child skipped a four-month sleep regression, maybe your second won’t. What works for one baby may not work for all of them.
Four months old is usually when the first sleep regression strikes. This regression is permanent in that they won’t be sleeping like a newborn anymore, sleeping most of the day. Four-month-old babies start to establish a routine and consolidate sleep.
New changes can have them too overwhelmed for sleep
Around eight months old, your baby may go through the dreaded eight-month sleep regression. This can happen anywhere between eight and ten months. The reason for this sleep regression is usually that your baby is going through a lot of new changes and developments. Your baby may be crawling, pulling themselves up, and cutting teeth. They are also about to go through a significant language breakthrough. All of these new changes can have them too overwhelmed for sleep. Teething can also cause pain and frequent wakings.
The 18 month and two-year-old sleep regressions are tough. Unlike with infant sleep regressions, your baby is now a full-blown toddler. They have opinions and can fully express them. These regressions usually involve resistance to naps or bedtime. Toddlers can also start to have bad dreams or night terrors. They may also be able to get out of their crib at night.
How to get through it
When it comes to getting through a sleep regression, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Many times, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to prevent these.
The main thing you can do during a sleep regression is to stay consistent. Keep your child’s routine as steady as possible. Stay strong and stick to earlier bedtimes, regular naps, and offer a calming bedtime routine.
When your baby wakes up, don’t worry if they are suddenly hungry. Part of a sleep regression could mean that they are growing through a growth spurt. Offer them a feeding and don’t stress about it, their schedule will go back to normal.
Your baby or toddler will also need some extra cuddles when they are going through a sleep regression. It’s OK to offer them comfort. Just be sure not to go back to any habits you’ve weaned them from. Also, put them back in their crib drowsy but awake.
Most importantly, remember that this is just a phase, and you’ll all sleep better if they are comforted and fed if needed. You’ll get through this. And yes, you will sleep again.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
Here’s how to keep it together through the sleep deprivation of breastfeeding.
A recent study from Consumer Reports found toxic heavy metals in popular brands of baby food, including Earth’s Best and Gerber.