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Baby Sleep Regression

Baby Sleep Guide

Does your baby keep waking up at night? If so, then they could have sleep regression. Sleep regression is when your infant's sleeping patterns start to change. They can go from previously sleeping well to waking up frequently or having a hard time sleeping through the night.

While sleep regression is a normal part of being a baby and toddler, it can be difficult for parents to manage. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about sleep regression. Read on as we uncover what sleep regression is, the signs and symptoms to look out for, and tips on how to help your little one sleep.

In this guide:

What is sleep regression?

Sleep regression typically means your baby has 'regressed' (gone backwards) to a less-developed state of sleeping, such as waking up frequently during the night. While sleep regression can be challenging – especially when you’re running low on sleep yourself – it’s usually a good sign.

It's common when infants experience periods of rapid growth and development , such as reaching new milestones like learning to crawl, sit up, or walk. It’s also important to note that sleep regression is usually temporary and will often pass on its own.

Sleep regression ages: 0-18 months

While all babies are different – and the ages aren’t set – sleep regressions typically occur around the ages of 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, 12 months, and 18 months:

4-month sleep regression

Sleep regression usually occurs as baby transitions away from their newborn sleep pattern, and the biology of their sleep starts to change.

6-month sleep regression

At 6 months, sleep regression is typically a result of rapid growth and development. Teething may also be another potential factor for changes in sleep patterns at this time.

8-month sleep regression

As infants start to emotionally develop during this age, they may start to experience separation anxiety, which can lead to changes in their sleeping habits.

12-month sleep regression

During this age, children begin to gain more awareness of their environment and engage in more activity. However this can result in restlessness, which can lead to sleep regression during the night.

18-month sleep regression

As your child begins to develop a sense of independence and a desire to test boundaries, this can often result in bedtime refusal.

However, not all babies will experience sleep regression. Some infants often sleep well during the night and keep a consistent bedtime pattern.

Signs of sleep regression

Unsure whether your baby has sleep regression? The most obvious sign of sleep regression in babies is waking up more often throughout the night. Other sleep regression symptoms to look out for include:

  • Shorter or fewer naps – Sleep regression doesn’t just happen at night. It can also disrupt daytime routines, such as afternoon naps.
  • Difficulty falling asleep – This can often be accompanied by crying at bedtime.
  • Increased fussiness – Due to lack of sleep.

Sleep regression tips

Although baby sleep regressions can be rough, remember that they won’t last forever. Regressions typically last between two to six weeks before baby eventually goes back to sleeping normally again.

However, if you’re having trouble getting your baby to sleep, there are plenty of things you can try to help them establish a better sleep routine. These include:

  • Sleep training – These methods can involve teaching your child how to self-sooth and fall asleep on their own.
  • Create a bedtime routine – For example, give them a bath before bed, read them a book, or sing them a song. This can help sooth baby, so they feel ready to sleep.
  • Wait before responding – If your baby cries as soon as you put them down to sleep, pause before responding. Give them a few minutes to self-sooth and fall back to sleep on their own.
  • Comfort them – If you’ve left baby to self-sooth, but they’re still crying, try stepping in and offering comfort and reassurance.
  • Make sure they’re not hungry – Make sure baby is feeding enough during the day, so they’re not hungry when it comes to bedtime. Feeding around 15 minutes before bed can also help to wind baby down and make them feel sleepy.
  • Put them to sleep when they’re awake – Before putting them to bed, make sure they’re still awake. Putting baby to sleep while they’re still awake can help teach them how to fall asleep on their own.

Looking for more bedtime inspiration? Discover further bedtime tips and tricks in our baby sleep guide.

When to seek help for sleep regression

In some cases, sleep regression may indicate an underlying health issue. So, if you’re worried about your baby, or need further advice and support, contact your health visitor or GP. They can check to make sure there is nothing wrong. They may suggest other ideas to try, or recommend you make an appointment at a specialist children’s sleep clinic.

That said, it’s important to remember that sleep regression is normal, and it will eventually pass.

Sleep regression FAQs

When does sleep regression happen?

Sleep regression can happen at any time during baby and toddler years, except the newborn sleep phase when patterns are naturally more erratic. Most parents will start to notice problems with their child’s sleeping habits during the first 4 months, and then around 6, 8, 12, and 18 months. However, not all children will experience sleep regression. Some infants will have no trouble sleeping during the night.

How long does sleep regression last?

Sleep regression can last anywhere between two to six weeks. After this period, your child will usually go back to sleeping normally again. However, if your child is still struggling and you need further support, your health visitor may be able to help, or suggest you book an appointment at a children’s sleep clinic.

What causes sleep regression?

Sleep regression can have many causes, including changes in routine and separation anxiety. However, sleep regression typically occurs when infants go through intense periods of growth and development, such as when they approach new development milestones.

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