Did you know that babies go through several periods of sleep regression in their first two years of life? Many parents, especially first-time parents, are unaware that these sleep regressions occur and are blindsided when their once blissfully sleeping baby, suddenly refuses to go to sleep or wakes multiple times during the night.
Sleep regression is a period of time, usually 3 to 6 weeks, where a baby who was previously sleeping well, suddenly begins waking up multiple times in the night, taking shorter naps, or skipping naps altogether. Don’t worry, sleep regression is perfectly normal and your baby will sleep through the night again, for a while at least!
Every baby is different and may experience sleep regression differently or at a different stage. Having said that though, there are some approximate ages where sleep regressions seem to occur the most often.
4-month Sleep Regression
The first and probably most common period of baby sleep regression seems to hit right around the four-month mark. This does not mean that it will occur precisely at four months, it could be a little before or after.
The four-month sleep regression is a permanent change in your baby’s sleep patterns, don’t worry that doesn’t mean your baby will never sleep through the night again. What it does mean is that your baby is moving away from their newborn sleep tendencies and growing up. So what can you expect? Your baby will likely take shorter naps during the daytime and will wake up at least a couple of times during the night.
6 to 7 Month Sleep Regression
Some sleep experts say that sleep regression that occurs during the six to seven-month time frame are really just growth spurts which is quite possible. During this period babies are also starting to eat more solid foods. This can mean changes in their bowel habits, like pooping when they would normally be asleep which can wake them up, or cause you to wake them up because they need to be changed. If this is happening with your baby, experiment with different feeding times for solid foods, maybe move the solid feeding up an hour or two, to see if this will solve that problem for you.
8 to 10 Month Sleep Regression
A lot is going on with your eight to ten-month-old baby, and it can interfere with their sleep at night. Around eight months is when separation anxiety can intensify, this may mean that your baby will cry for you when you lay them down to sleep at night or for their naps.
This can be heart-wrenching for parents, who don’t want to leave their baby crying, however, it is important to establish and stick to a routine. Sticking to a strict bedtime and naptime routine will provide them with security and comfort.
At this age, they are also starting to crawl, pull-up, and stand-up on their own. This means that you may find that every time you lay them down for sleep they pull themselves up, crawl around the crib, etc, because they can. It is something that they can do on their own that they can control.
12 Month Sleep Regression
Some baby’s don’t have issues with separation anxiety until closer to the twelve-month mark. This is also the age where babies begin talking, so you may hear a lot of babbling coming from their crib. Many parents assume that their baby is ready for a single nap because they resist going to bed. This is not likely true, and if you stick with your routine of two naps within a week or two they should be right back on track.
Taking a nap away before your baby is ready will just lead to them being over-tired and cranky. Being over-tired can actually make it much harder for your baby to get any quality sleep at all.
15 to 18 Month Sleep Regression
A lot is happening around the time of this sleep regression as well. They are learning how to walk, and they have probably learned their new favourite word too “No!”. Stand firm, and stick to your routine so that they know that it is bedtime or naptime and that you are serious about it This is also approximately the time that most babies transition from two naps to one.
Two-Year-Old Sleep Regression
Two-year-olds really enjoy using the word “No!”, especially when you tell them that it is bedtime or nap time. This is the age where many children begin having night terrors or night time fears like being scared of the dark or monsters under the bed. Reassure them, but stand firm and stick to your routine. Two-year-olds still need a nap each day even if they don’t think so.
Tips for Dealing with Sleep Regression
Offer comfort when they need it, but don’t start or restart, bad habits. For example, don’t get int the habit of rocking your baby to sleep or giving them a pacifier to soothe them when they have already given them up.
Move bedtime up. Becoming overtired is a very real possibility when your baby is going through a period of sleep regression. Consider making bedtime earlier to keep t from getting overtired.
Don’t be afraid to give them an extra feeding. Growth spurts are often one component of sleep regressions and they may need those extra feedings for a little while.
Ask for help when you need it. If your baby isn’t sleeping well, chances are you aren’t either. Ask your partner to help with some of the nighttime awakenings or for more help with things that need to be done around the house. If you need to bring in outside help or ask a friend or family member to help.
Now you know when to expect periods of sleep regression in your little one, and some tips for how to deal with them. These periods of regression can be frustrating, especially if you didn’t know to expect them in the first place. As frustrating as they may be they actually mean that your baby is growing and developing right on track.
To find out more about your babies’ sleeping essentials and tips, check out our sleep category page next!