What IS a Sleep Regression?
Updated: Jul 15, 2020
Oh, dreaded sleep regressions. Why are there are so many of them! What exactly are they? They can be a change in your child’s sleep needs as well as a gaining a new developmental skill (milestone or fear/anxiety). Let’s see if I can help break it down.
Sleep regressions in babies are a complete change in your baby’s need for sleep and it’s up to you to figure out how to fill that need correctly. That’s hard! You may have had a schedule that worked. Or maybe you weren’t on a schedule but things were going ok. All of a sudden your good sleeper starts waking during the night or refuses naps. Not only do you need to figure out what is going on by (recognizing the need for a change in sleep patterns versus illness, teething, etc.) but now you need to figure out what your little one’s new sleep needs are. Sleep regressions don’t happen in a bubble! They could happen along with teething, new developmental skills, illness, a new fear and a huge list of other things. It’s hard to differentiate if it’s a fluke, illness or one of the many other things that could mess with a happy baby and their sleep from the need to change his/her sleep schedule.
Even if you KNOW it’s a regression (if your little one is right on time: 4 month, 8ish month, 18 month and 2 year) how do you get through it? Look at what may need to be changed. Is your little one getting a lot of day sleep? Or is your kiddo at the age where they are getting ready to drop a nap (8 month, 18 month)? Is separation anxiety setting in? Or a different sleep pattern (4 months- that’s a whole different regression and has it’s own blog. You can read about the 4 month regression here). The good news is they only last 2-6 weeks. If you have a baby who hasn’t been sleeping for 2 months, that is no longer a regression, it is something else.
Here is what to know before regressions hit. If your little one is a good, independent sleeper with healthy sleep habits regressions are nothing to fear. They are just that… a few weeks of minimally interrupted sleep and with patience and consistency they bounce back. It’s all the more reason to start early. Get your infant on a good healthy sleep routine and sleeping independently so that these regressions don’t turn into months of no sleep.
If you are tired of going through these regressions and you find your toddler's sleep really hard to get back on track afterwards, I have a "Bumps in the Road Package" that walks you through every sleep regression. It will teach you what to expect, how to help them through it so they get more sleep and how to avoid making long term sleep habits to fix a short term problem. It will also help you through any developmental milestone, teething, illness, vacation, separation anxiety and more! If you want some guidance through these tough times, you can grab it here!