I probably get questions about sleep regressions 5 times a week. It is a very top of mind concern for parents and figuring out how to manage your way through these regressions can be really overwhelming. We are going to cover some of the most common sleep regressions kids go through and give you some effective tips to get through them with your routine and sleep intact.
What Are Sleep Regressions?
Picture this: Your little one has been sleeping so well. Nights are going great and naps are feeling manageable, and suddenly, one night they wake up at 2 am. Or they fight going to bed. They wake up from their nap after 45 minutes. The first thought is usually “oh my gosh what’s wrong?”, there must be a reason your little one is suddenly waking up right? Sometimes yes, it could be sickness, bad dream, diaper issues, but usually these sudden inexplicable wake ups can be attributed to a sleep regression. These are temporary disruptions in sleep patterns that can happen at various stages of your child’s development.
When Do Sleep Regressions Occur?
4-Month Sleep Regression 🍼
Around 4 months, your baby’s sleep cycles mature. The brain literally reorganizes sleep from 2 stages (REM and deep sleep) to a more typical 4 stage sleep cycle. This means your baby is experiencing the lighter phases of stage 1 and 2 sleep which can lead to more frequent wake-ups. This can take a week or two to level out and sometimes requires some help to get through. Another important milestone that occurs at this age is learning to roll and transitioning from the swaddle. These also affect sleep, I work with a lot of baby’s this age because it is just so darn difficult.
8-10 Month Sleep Regression 👶
As your baby becomes more mobile and starts teething, you may begin to see upset before bed, waking up at night and crawling around the crib. Sitting up over and over during nap time is another problem parents experience. This stage is usually short lived and can be made easier by keeping things normal and calm. Check out my instagram for teething tips.
12-Month Sleep Regression 🎂
Celebrating the big one-year mark? Your child might celebrate with some sleep disruptions due to newfound skills and separation anxiety. Some babies also start to drop down to one nap at this age which can make things more difficult.
18-Month Sleep Regression 🚼
Toddlerhood brings newfound independence and lots of language skills. Your 18 month old may be babbling and talking all through their naps or singing to themselves at bedtime. Spend lots of time talking during the day and playing games.
2-Year Sleep Regression 🎈
As language skills and imagination blossom, so can bedtime battles and night awakenings. A lot of parents choose to to take their children out of the crib and into a toddler bed. This can cause lots of push back at bedtime because of new found freedom. Deciding on your bedtime boundaries as a family will help you know where to start in helping your child feel secure and manage expectations.
Why Do Sleep Regressions Happen?
It’s essential to remember that these regressions are often a sign of healthy development! They are a little human and every day will not be the same. Changes in brain development, physical milestones, and social-emotional growth can all play a role. Sometimes remembering that it’s ok to have a bad couple of nights can help manage anxiety.
Managing Sleep Regressions Like a Pro
- Stick to the Routine 📅- Kids thrive on routine and if you change it up it actually contributes to anxiety at bedtime Consistency is key! Keep your bedtime routine steady, even during regressions.
- Comfort and Security 🧸- Offer comfort items like a favorite stuffed animal or blanket to provide a sense of security.
- Adjust Sleep Environment 🌙-Ensure the room is conducive to sleep. Dark, cool, and quiet spaces work wonders.
- Stay Patient and Positive 🌟- Remember, this is a phase and it shall pass. Stay positive and patient with your little one. They will pick up on your emotional cues and if you are mad your child will escalate.
- Seek Support 🤗-Don’t hesitate to reach out to a sleep consultant or fellow parents for advice and support. That’s literally what I’m here for!
Remember, sleep regressions are just a bump in the road on the journey to healthy sleep habits. With patience, consistency, and a whole lot of love, you and your little one will come out the other side well-rested and ready to tackle the world!