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Your Guide to Baby Sleep Regressions

last year7 min read
Last updated: Jan 23 2023

Ahh, baby sleep regression… The bane of any mama’s life! Hang in there: it will get better.

Baby Sleep Regressions

Nobody expects to sleep more when they have a baby in the house, but other parents will probably tell you that it’s OK, because it’s only for a little while.

What you might not discover until later is that it does get better…until it gets worse again.

Welcome to the frustration of baby sleep regressions.

They’re real, they’re tough, and you can expect them to rear their ugly heads whenever your baby hits a big developmental milestone.

They learned to crawl! Grab the camera! But they forgot how to sleep. Please. Bring. Coffee.

Sleep regressions don’t last forever, but that thought isn’t very comforting if you’re in the middle of one right now.

So here’s what’s going on, and some tips for getting through it.

In this article: 📝

  • How do I know if my baby is having a sleep regression?
  • How many sleep regressions does a baby have?
  • What age do babies have sleep regressions?
  • How do I fix my baby’s sleep regression?

How do I know if my baby is having a sleep regression?

Is your baby waking up more often in the night?

Are they fighting to stay awake at bedtime or naptime?

Are they waking up before dawn and looking at you like it’s time to hit the playground?

If your baby’s normal sleep routine has changed suddenly and it’s been that way for more than three days, they’ve probably entered a sleep regression (and decided to drag you along for the ride).

There are a lot of reasons why your baby might sleep worse for a little while – adjusting to dropping a nap, teething pain, illness, or sleeping in a new place when you’re traveling.

But a true infant sleep regression is a bit different because it happens when your baby is practicing a new skill or learning something big and new about the world.

How many sleep regressions does a baby have?

We’re sorry, mama. You might have as many as six sleep regressions in store before your little one turns two.

But if you’re looking for a silver lining:

  • They get further apart
  • Not all babies hit all the infant sleep regressions
  • Newborns don’t have sleep regressions at all
  • Some sleep regressions can last for six weeks, but others may be over in as little as 10 days

What age do babies have sleep regressions?

When do sleep regressions happen? Let’s look at the typical baby sleep regression ages.

The 4 month sleep regression

A lot of babies hit a sleep regression at four months old because they start to sleep in phases of deep and light sleep.

It takes them a while to learn how to drop back into deeper sleep without being rocked or fed.

Add to this the fact that they can see further, lift their heads to look around, and might be rolling over, and you have a baby who has a lot of things to keep their brain switched on when they’re supposed to be snoozing.

By the way, if it shows up as a ‘three month sleep regression’ instead, don’t worry.

All babies are unique. If you’re really lucky, you might not notice it at all.

😴 Read more: What’s the Best 4-Month-Old Sleep Schedule?

The 6 month sleep regression

At six months old, your little one is making a lot of big physical leaps.

They might be sitting up or even crawling.

And on the mental side, they’re starting to understand the concept of distance – things can be high up, or far away, and mama can walk faster than they can catch up.

Add in the fact that a lot of babies get their first teeth and start eating solid foods at this age, and you have a recipe for broken nights.

😴 Read more: What’s the Best 6-Month-Old Sleep Schedule?

The 8 month sleep regression

Eight-month-olds are on the move!

They might be crawling or pulling themselves up.

Separation anxiety can also start to creep in at this age.

They understand that you can go away and, as far as they’re concerned, the kitchen is practically the other side of the world.

So if they’re struggling to snooze while you’re falling asleep on your feet, it might be that they don’t want to be by themselves.

Or they might just be mad because they’d rather be exploring. Probably both. It’s tough to be a baby.

😴 Read more: What’s the Best 8-Month-Old Sleep Schedule?

The 12 month sleep regression

What did you get your little one for their first birthday?

Some new clothes, a special toy, a piece of cake? To say thanks, they might forget how to sleep again, at around 12 months old.

If you want something to blame, they might be getting ready to walk or cruise.

😴 Read more: What’s the Best 12-Month-Old Sleep Schedule?

The 18 month sleep regression

They’re not a baby anymore, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that sleep problems are behind you.

At 18 months old, you have an independent toddler who knows what ‘no’ means and understands when they’re not getting their way.

The 2 year sleep regression

Not all kids hit a sleep regression at two years, but for those that do, it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint the reason.

They’re getting their final molars, they’re learning new words every day, and there’s probably something else going on in their little world that’s having a big impact on their sleep – from daycare, to potty training, to becoming a big brother or sister.

But whatever the reason, and however old your baby is when sleep goes out the window, the advice is the same.

How do I fix my baby’s sleep regression?

Unfortunately, a sleep regression isn’t something you can ‘fix’.

You just have to ride it out and look after yourself.

We don’t have solutions, but there are some tips you can keep in mind:

  • Try not to re-introduce any of the sleep aids that you’ve already phased out. If you’ve already stopped rocking your little one, using a pacifier, or feeding to sleep, keep things that way. In the same vein…
  • Stick to the same schedule. Waking up earlier doesn’t mean that your little one needs a later bedtime, and fighting a nap doesn’t mean that they’re ready to drop one.
  • Try a gentle sleep training method like ‘the chair method’ or ‘fading out’. Basically, you stay in the room until your baby falls asleep, but sit a little further away every night. They feel reassured, but they also get used to falling asleep by themselves.
  • Get out in the fresh air and sunshine to enforce their natural day/night rhythm and use up their energy. This is great for keeping you sane too, mama, and there’s nothing wrong with a nap in the stroller or the carrier if the thought of them refusing to sleep in their crib again is too much.
  • Ask for help if you can. Get someone else to get your little one ready in the morning so you can sleep in. Have someone babysit in the afternoon so you can go for a run or have a coffee by yourself – whatever recharges your batteries.

You’ve got this, mama, and it’s not forever.

😴 More from The 411:
How Much Do Newborns Sleep? A Rough Guide
Newborn Sleep Schedule: Rough Patterns and Timings
Babies Waking Up Too Early: What to do
Baby Sleep Temperature Guidelines to Follow
How to Dress Baby For Sleep
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in a Crib
When Do Kids Stop Taking Naps?
Bassinet vs Crib: What to Know
10 Best Baby’s Bassinets of 2022 Chosen By Real Moms
Can Babies Have Nightmares?
When to Stop Swaddling
How to End Co-Sleeping: Your Quickfire Guide
What Do Babies Dream About?
When Can a Baby Sleep With a Blanket?
Can Babies Sleep on Their Stomach?
Can Newborns Sleep on Their Side?

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