Signs of Sleep Regressions in Babies

Child care, sleep regression, sleeping

Signs of Sleep Regressions in Babies

What is a Sleep Regression

Sleep regressions are a period where your baby suddenly has a difficult time falling or staying asleep or wakes more frequently during the night or for naps. Sleep regressions are a normal stage of development but can be difficult for many parents to manage when they are already sleep-deprived.

Causes for Sleep Regressions

Sleep regressions can have many causes, which can include

  • Reaching a developmental milestone
  • Growth spurts
  • Teething
  • Routine changes
  • Traveling
  • Illnesses, like a cold or ear infection

Signs of a Sleep Regression

Every baby is entirely different. This means that signs of sleep regression can vary based on the reason for the sleep regression in the first place. Common signs of sleep regression include

  • Trouble falling asleep at bedtime
  • Increased fussiness
  • Nap resistance
  • Short naps
  • Frequent nighttime waking

How Long do Sleep Regressions Last?

Sleep regressions typically last anywhere from two to four weeks, but the exact period of time can vary depending on the baby and the cause of the regression.

Common Sleep Regressions by Age

4-Month Sleep Regression

Around the 3 to 4-month mark, your baby’s sleep is maturing. During this time, they learn sleep stages and how to connect their sleep cycles. Around 3 to 4 months, your baby is also developing exciting milestones like learning to roll over or grasp toys. This sleep regression is usually the hardest for parents because it is the first regression they are experiencing, but also because of how many changes your baby is experiencing at once. Other factors that could contribute to this dreaded sleep regression include teething and increased hunger due to growth spurts.

6-Month Sleep Regression

At around six months, babies tend to go through a growth spurt which can cause them to wake more frequently at night because they are hungry. During this time, babies can also experience teething and separation anxiety that may contribute to poor sleep. Usually, this sleep regression is short but consists of frequent night waking and fussiness.

8 to 10-Month Sleep Regression

This sleep regression can happen anywhere between 8 to 10 months old when different developmental changes are happening, such as standing or crawling. Babies around 8-10 months also get their central incisor teeth, contributing to fussiness and poor sleep.

12-Month Sleep Regression

At 12 months old, some babies can experience a sleep regression, and others skip this regression altogether. But like the other sleep regressions, it is essential to maintain a regular bedtime routine to help your child get back to peaceful sleeping.

18-Month Sleep Regression

Around 18 months old, your child may begin to fight their usual bedtime or naps. This sleep regression could be caused by evolving sleep changes, separation anxiety, or wanting to be more independent.

2 Year Sleep Regression

The two-year sleep regression is usually the last sleep regression your child will experience. When your child is experiencing significant life changes like potty training or moving into a toddler bed, they may also experience separation anxiety or begin to have nightmares. Sometimes your child may also start to resist naps. As with any sleep regression, it is essential to maintain a regular schedule to help your child get back to everyday sleeping habits.

Tips for Surviving a Sleep Regression

Sleep regressions can be difficult, but they are temporary. There are lots of different ways to help your baby get back to peaceful sleeping, including

  • Follow wake windows: Babies need frequent sleep, and an overtired baby has more difficulty falling asleep. Keep an eye on the clock and try not to let your baby stay awake longer than its recommended awake window. Recommended wake windows are as follows
    • 0-12 weeks: 45-90 minutes
    • 3-4 months: 1.5-2 hours
    • 4-5 months: 2-2.5 hours
    • 5-6 months: 2.25-3 hours
    • 7-13 months: 2.5-3.5 hours
    • 1-2 years: 4-5 hours
  • Look for sleep cues: Babies show signs of being ready for sleep before they start fussing or crying. Some common sleep cues include rubbing the eyes, red eyebrows, yawning, and staring off.
  • Create a nap and bedtime routine: routines do not need to be long, but developing a bedtime routine can help your baby anticipate that it is time for sleep and time to wind down.
  • Help your baby to self-soothe: If your baby wakes in the middle of the night, give them 3-5 minutes to settle themselves. Babies can make a lot of noise while in the active sleep phase.
  • Consider a sleep training method: sleep training can be controversial but is a valid option for many families to teach babies to self-soothe and sleep more peacefully.