What’s a Sleep Regression?

Sleep Regression

You might have heard about them from some other parents or read about them here and there. But what’s a sleep regression exactly, how often do they occur and how do you deal with them?

A sleep regression is a phase where your baby or toddler sleep behavior changes out of nothing. Maybe frequent night waking is happening again or your child is hard to settle or maybe even refuses naps and takes forever to fall asleep at night. In the first two years of your child’s life, there are a few sleep regressions taking place.

Sleep Regression

The first one is around 4 months, then again around 7-9 months, 12 months, 18 months and 2 years old. Some kids experience a final sleep regression at 3 years. Often these sleep regressions happen simultaneously with big milestones like rolling over, crawling, walking, first few words.

Around 4 months many babies change from 4 naps to 3 naps, around 8-9 months there is often a change from 3 to 2 naps and then between 15-18 months most kids are ready to change from 2 to 1 nap. Don’t worry if your child still needs more naps than others in that age. Every child has different sleep needs and some are faster or slower with changing the amount of naps.

What happens during a sleep regression?

During this phase there is so much brain development going on. It’s a big mental and psychological change.  In some extreme cases, children have to learn to sleep again (This often happens during the 4 month sleep regression). An explanation why this happens is that parts of the brain, which are responsible for sleep, completely change.

As bad as this sounds, it is a very good and positive change. This means your child is developing very well, is growing and able to learn new things and is more and more aware of its surroundings. So this is something you can be proud of!

In my following articles you can read more about each sleep regression individually:

  • 4 Months                
  • 7-9 Months             
  • 12 Months               (soon online)
  • 18 Months               (soon online)
  • 2 years                     (soon online)
  • 3 years                     (soon online)

Every child goes through these infamous sleep regressions. With some children they are more intense in comparison to others, this also counts for the duration of it. One in three children are facing problems is their sleep rhythm during a sleep regression.

How do you know your baby/child is having a sleep regression?

During a sleep regression, you will notice quite some changes in your child’s (sleep)behaviour. Most common ones are:

  • New frequent waking at night
  • Increase in fussiness and more crying
  • Clinginess to mom or dad and not wanting to be with other people
  • Change in appetite (more or less)

How to handle a sleep regression

Remember this, it is just a phase! In a few weeks it will get better again.

Give your child the possibility to self sooth. This doesn’t mean you should let your child cry it out or leave them alone to cry. Instead, put your child drowsy but awake to bed, stay with him/her so they feel safe and secure and support your child.

Promote good  and positive sleep habits before the next sleep regression takes place. For example:

  • Always look at the wake windows of your child. Make sure they are not too long as this makes it harder for your child to settle, relax and fall asleep.
  • Make sure the bedroom is darkened. This helps your child to wind down, relax and helps with creating the sleep hormone “melatonin”.
  • Implement a good bedtime ritual and repeat this with every nap and bedtime. Take your time for it. This way, your child get your undivided attention, extra cuddle time and has the time to relax.
  • Many children like white noise when falling asleep. This helps to filter out noise from outside. So this is very helpful when you live in a louder house/flat or area.

Let your child sleep in his/her bed as much as possible, like this your child will connect their bed with sleep.

How long does a sleep regression last?

The length of a sleep regression normally last between 2-6 weeks. Every child goes through these sleep regression, but not every regression will be as hard. How your child experiences the regression depends on how they are handling the milestone that they are about to reach. Some developmental milestones are more exciting and more difficult than other for different babies.

Do you need more information?

Feel free to contact me and I would be happy to offer you a short Info call for free.


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