If your child has had a consistent sleep schedule but suddenly wakes up at varying times with a snoring baby, fighting nap time, and screaming, you might suffer from sleep regression. It can be very frustrating for new parents who need to rest in the evening. We’re here to help! Find out more about this critical infant milestone in sleep.
What exactly is Baby Sleep Regression?
Sleep regression is quite common in the early years of a child’s life. The achievement of new developmental milestones can alter a baby’s sleeping pattern and could mean that, even though you thought you had your bedtime routine mastered, your child is still awake at night. If your child experiences sleep regression, do not panic! It’s a normal consequence of all the significant growth changes happening during your child’s growth.
Signs of sleep regression
If you are experiencing an increase in the amount of fussiness or more frequent night awakenings, it could be that your baby is experiencing unintentional sleep regression. The most common signs of sleep loss include fighting with naps or bedtime, difficulty getting asleep (especially in the case of babies who did not fall asleep in a hurry before), frequent night wake-ups, and more wailing and crying throughout the day and evening. Like you, your child is cranky and tired from late-night wake-ups and missing nap times.
What is the cause of sleep regression?
Understanding the causes of sleep regression can help you understand and prepare for your child’s sleep issues. Find out more about some of the most typical reasons for sleep regression.
Physical growth spurts can lead to sleep regression. If your child has recently gained a new skill, such as standing up, they could be so excited to practice that they’re having trouble falling asleep. Give your child ample time to try out the new skills throughout the day so that she will not be distracted by bedtime.
The growth spurts that cause your child to be more energetic during their day could also cause them to be more hungry in the evening, which could trigger an increase. The new activities can result in overtiredness that can, ironically, lead to sleep regression.
Teething can create a lot of discomfort for babies and cause sleep problems. Teething pain can cause it to be more difficult for infants to relax, affecting their sleeping at night and leading to shorter nap times. Fortunately, this issue will resolve itself as teething progresses at an end.
Attending New Development Milestones
One of the main reasons for sleep loss is the development of the brain. From being able to perceive more of their surroundings to developing new skills, such as sitting up, babies are incredibly active during the first few years of life. All of these exciting and significant shifts naturally impact infants’ sleeping habits. However, these sleep changes are not a problem and are short-lived, so don’t be concerned.
If you’re worried that exciting new abilities like rolling over can be risky for your child, check out our What Happens When Babies Rest on Their Stomach piece to learn more about this development milestone.
Unstabilized Circadian Recess and Routine Disruptions
The sleep patterns of newborn babies differ from the norm because they do not have an internal circadian rhythm. A newborn establishes its circadian rhythm for the first three months and then sleeps. In the fourth month, the baby’s circadian rhythm has developed. However, your baby is still adjusting to it! This usually leads to a massive sleep decline for about one month.
Sleep patterns that are disrupted regularly may also trigger sleep regressions, particularly in the case of babies who are just beginning to develop their sleep patterns. Be sure to establish healthy sleeping habits and adhere to a routine for sleep to support your child through these regressions.
The illness can also trigger the temporary regression of sleep. This isn’t a simple regression but rather a result of discomfort due to ailments like fever or ear infections, which can make babies sleep at night. If you suspect your baby is sick, bring them to an experienced pediatric physician.
What is the time when babies experience sleep Regressions?
Sleep regressions are often seen at the ages listed below, minus just a few weeks. Most infants reach typical developmental milestones in these intervals, making them a standard regression to sleep in the ages.
Six-week Sleep regression
Newborns begin to become alert around six weeks old. If your baby is more active and engaged in the world around them, be on the lookout for signs of a steep decline. At this point, infants are fascinated by everything around them and may push through fatigue to keep awake. When they struggle with fatigue, they may get “overtired,” which makes it extremely difficult to sleep. Fortunately, this type of regression usually takes only two weeks.
4 Months of Sleep Regression
Between 3 and 4 months old, your baby is acquiring new skills and creating an entirely unique circadian rhythm. They also require some sleep. This results in a sleep regression lasting up to one month. Your baby’s body will adjust to its new sleeping pattern during this period. If your child is sleeping more, slumbering and adjusting to a regular nap schedule, The four-month regression could be coming.
6 Month Regression in Sleep
At about six months, age 6, your child will begin to develop new emotional and social awareness that can lead to separation anxiety. They’ll also acquire new motor skills, which could cause restlessness and trouble sleeping. Make sure you encourage your child to test new abilities during the daytime to aid in calming their minds when they wind down or sleep.
10 Months of Sleep Regression
In the period of 8 up to 10 months old, your baby will begin to move! When they begin to crawl and stand and start to teeth, they’ll also begin their first period of toothing. Many babies switch between three and two naps daily at this point, which could disrupt their schedules during the night. As with all regressions, one is only temporary and should disappear once your baby is adjusted to the new routine.
18 Months of Sleep Regression
Your baby might experience increased anxiety over separation and have bad dreams. They could also be experimenting with independence and may be uneasy about going to bed because you have advised them that they should. Consider letting them choose the perfect bedtime story or pajamas that let them get some independence before going to bed.
Toddler Sleep Regression
Similar to babies, toddlers have bodies that are rapidly developing as well as minds. They could have more vivid nightmares, be learning to express “no,” or get at ease when they see changes in routines like the start of daycare. These changes could result in them fighting against nap time and getting up more frequently at night. If your child is more cranky than usual, they could be suffering from an issue with sleep.
How Do Sleep Regressions last?
The majority of sleep regressions last between two and four weeks. Be aware that they’re a regular aspect of growing older, so follow the flow as much as possible during your regressions.
How to Support Your Baby’s Sleep Regression
Check out the following article for suggestions on how to deal with sleep regressions.
Be on the lookout for baby sleep cues.
Be aware of your baby’s signs that they’re exhausted. It’s an excellent time to get them to sleep as they’ll be able to fall asleep quicker. Do you need help with what to do? Take a look at the guide to baby sleep for assistance.
Make sure you have a consistent sleep routine.
The practice of having a regular bedtime routine will help stop the sleep regression quicker. Stories, lullabies, or bathing before bedtime can all signal that it’s time to sleep. You could also play some white noise or relaxing music. Look up the top White noise makers to find a variety of alternatives.
Help Your Baby Detach Night from Day
The room should be kept dark or dim in the evening, and exposure to natural light during the day will aid in learning to recognize night from day. Look at the complete guide to circadian rhythms to learn more about the research behind sleep! This can help your child establish their circadian rhythm, which can help during the four months of regression.
Make sure your baby gets enough sleep during the day.
This may seem counterintuitive, but ensuring that your baby gets enough rest throughout the day can assist them in sleeping through the night. A good amount of sleep during the day will keep them from becoming exhausted, which could make your child appear “wired” and stop them from sleeping at night.
Try sleep training
When your baby is older enough, try sleep training. There are many different ways to pick from, so you must choose one to help you and your child get more restful sleep. It is recommended to consult with a sleep specialist or a pediatrician before deciding on one method. Look up a good starting point: A Parent’s Guide to helping children sleep.
Take a nap!
Sleep deprivation for new parents is a serious issue and makes it challenging to be a good parent to your child. Take your time to rest whenever you can. This will help you become more attentive, patient, and more willing to offer more cuddles when your child is experiencing a regression.
What to Tell Your Doctor regarding your baby’s sleep
Be aware that it is not always the case that sleep issues result from regressions. If your child is experiencing difficulty breathing correctly, consult a physician immediately. Other indications to consult your doctor include snoring, nighttime terrors and fever, earache and the inability to focus.
Read our FAQ section for more about regressing sleep for babies.
Do all babies suffer from sleep regression?
Most babies experience sleep regressions. But your baby might be unable to experience all regressions mentioned in this article. For example, he might experience a four-month regression but not experience a six-month regression.
Are you able to prevent sleep regressions?
There’s no way to avoid sleep regressions. Please take a deep breath, and be aware that they’re standard parts of your child’s development!
What number of sleep regressions do babies suffer from?
It is typical to have at least six or five regressions over the first two years of life (at 1.5, 4, 6, 10, and 18 months).
Do you need to feed your baby while he is in regression?
At around 8-10 months of age, you might begin weaning at night. You may still be able to do evening feedings at night, even during sleep regressions. Always consult with your doctor before beginning night weaning.
Does your child cry in the middle of the night?
It’s possible to give your baby some time to determine whether or not they can self-soothe when they’re around four months old. However, we suggest checking in with your baby’s needs to ease them into a calm state after a short period of crying.