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All you wanted to know about sleep regressions but didn’t know who to ask

Updated: May 31, 2022

Sleep regression is that phase in your baby's life when their sleep patterns shift where they wake up and have difficulty returning to sleep. Sometimes babies that used to sleep through the night may suddenly grow fussy and get up multiple times.

All of this happens because your baby is going through a growth spurt, indicating brain development. And as your baby's brain evolves, it adapts to the new environment and starts learning new skills. This learning phase gets stressful and frustrating to your child and reflects in their sleep pattern. But don't worry. It's not just your baby that experiences sleep regression; it happens with any baby or toddler.

What triggers sleep regressions?

While hitting a developmental milestone is the most common trigger, other possible causes are:

· Teething pain and discomfort which reflects on their sleep pattern

· Discomfort and restlessness because of an illness, which reflects on their sleep quality

· Massive life changes like a new sibling or a new house

Signs of sleep regression

The main indications of your baby regressing are:

· Sudden worsening in sleep patterns around four months of age

· Fewer naps

· Change in appetite

· Fussiness

· Frequently getting up at night

How long does a sleep regression last?

While it seems to last forever to parents, sleep regression typically last only two to six weeks, depending on its trigger. However, consult your pediatrician if you don't know the cause and notice that the regression lasts longer than usual. But don't worry if your baby regresses more than once. It's common, especially in their early years.

When do sleep regressions occur?

Sleep regression happens during your child's life's developmental milestones like:

  • 4-month sleep regression is typically the most challenging for most parents. Your baby undergoes multiple developmental changes and starts developing a circadian rhythm.

  • 8-month sleep regression because of your baby's developed cognitive and physical abilities like crawling, copying gestures, and problem-solving.

  • 12-month sleep regression because babies are most active when they turn one and start walking and talking. Their curiosity and constant exploring of their surroundings make them regressive.

  • 18-month sleep regression because of teething, which is uncomfortable and painful.

However, these are not fixed timeframes. Each baby is unique, and while these are the typical ages, your child may regress anytime outside of them.

What do I do during a sleep regression?

This is a temporary phase, and you can help by making your baby feel as comfortable as possible with the following tips:

  • Don't change their regular sleep routine but instead maintain it till they return to their standard patterns.

  • Adjust your baby's sleep routine to shorter naps and later bedtimes.

  • Don't introduce anything new during this phase, like co-sleeping or rocking to sleep.

  • Put your baby to sleep when sleepy so that they learn to fall asleep on their own.

  • As always, limit screen time! Yes, screen exposure, especially before bedtime, can also affect your baby's sleep routine!

While sleep regression can take its toll on you and your baby, remember it's temporary and that you may face it multiple times during your baby's growth. Give your child extra love and snuggles during this trying time.

Of course, you can always consult The Slumber Academy if you need help handling the situation! And don't be afraid to turn to friends and family to watch your baby so that you get a few hours of vital shuteye!

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