Sleep Regressions: What Are They?
You may have heard the term bandied around – it’s pretty popular.
He slept well for a few months but now he’s going through a regression.
She’s regressing and it’s killing us!
Must be a sleep regression.
What is a Sleep Regression?
It’s just fancy talk for “a stage where your baby stops sleeping as well as he used to.” Seriously. The four most common sleep regressions happen at 4, 8, 12 and 18 months old, but not every baby experiences all of them, and some babies go through others ones in addition to all four of these!
The thing about sleep regressions is that whether they last a few weeks or a few months is UP TO YOU. Different sleep regressions have different causes and depending on how you handle them, they can end relatively soon or drag on interminably.
What Causes Sleep Regressions?
Sleep Regressions are almost always brought on by a good thing – growth and development of your little one. At 4 months, her sleep patterns change from newborn to baby. Her sleep patterns will remain this way for the rest of her life, so this change is an important one.
At 8-10 months, another regression hits, as an explosion of physical and cognitive development arises in your baby’s world. She’s learning to sit, scoot, crawl, speak and mentally break things up into different compartments. Practicing new skills in her crib can keep her up for hours! Dropping from 3 naps to 2 at this age also contributes to a sleep regression.
At 12 months, many babies experience a nap regression. Parents mistakenly assume that this means it’s time to drop to one nap, when it’s really NOT! Holding out for a few more weeks will have things return to normal and both naps usually fall back into place.
At 18 months, your baby has turned into a toddler and along with toddlerhood comes a newfound willful independence, cutting of molars (ouch!) and a strong bout of separation anxiety when you leave for the night. These can all contribute to the painful regression that comes at this age (it’s one of the worst ones 😖)
Sometimes, your baby can have a minor sleep regression that’s not officially “in the books.” These can last a few days, unlike the developmental regressions, which last a few weeks.
Illness, Travel, dropping a nap, moving from a crib to a bed, potty training and familial stress (a new sibling, a move, a divorce, a new babysitter) can all cause minor sleep regressions.
What Can You Do During a Sleep Regression?
More important than what you do during is sleep regression is what you DON’T do. Helping your baby fall asleep will create poor sleep habits that you’ll have to undo once you reach your wits end- because the regression won’t end if you create bad habits. It will just drag on and on and on.
The best things you can do are to wait it out patiently, try to retain your sanity as much as possible and avoid creating bad habits during this stage.
As long as you do your part, it will pass and things will get back to normal, soon enough.