Having a child who sleeps like a dream can be wonderful until they suddenly start having issues sleeping. This could be due to something called sleep regression but don’t worry, it’s normal and temporary.

If your child used to sleep like a dream but has started waking up at night or crying when you put them to bed, you might be dealing with sleep regression. This article will tell you all about it, when it usually happens, how long it lasts, and how you can help everyone get some good sleep again.

What is Sleep Regression?

Sleep regression happens when a child who usually sleeps well suddenly has trouble getting to sleep or wakes up during the night. This phase usually lasts two to four weeks.

What Causes Sleep Regression and Why?

Sleep regression can be caused by many things that could make a baby uncomfortable or anxious. Some of these are:

  • A growth spurt or developmental leaps
  • Teething pain or discomfort
  • Learning a new skill
  • Life changes like starting daycare, moving, new nanny, new sibling, etc.
  • Traveling
  • Illnesses like colds or ear infections

How Long Does Sleep Regression Last?

Depending on the cause of the regression, it can last a few days to a few weeks. I usually recommend to give any new challenges at least 10-14 days before deciding to make some changes. This gives your child time to adjust to new routines or recover from an illness. During this time, keeping your routines consistent and adding some extra daytime cuddles can keep you on track.

Signs of Sleep Regression

The signs of sleep regression can vary, but here are some common ones:

  • Struggling to fall asleep at bedtime
  • Waking up more during the night
  • Being fussier or crankier than usual
  • Not wanting to nap

When Does Sleep Regression Happen?

Sleep regression can happen anytime, but some common times are:

  • 3 to 4 months: This first sleep regression can be the hardest because it’s new. Transitioning away from newborn sleep patterns, shift in feeding/hunger, and the excitement of learning to roll over can all contribute to sleep issues.
  • 6 months: At this age, teething can start popping up and you begin to introduce solid food, which can lead to tummy troubles and more unstable nights from discomfort.
  • 8 to 10 months: Babies often start to crawl and stand up around this age, which can disrupt sleep. Separation anxiety and a new set of vocal communication can also start around this time.
  • 12 months: Babies often start standing and taking their first steps around their first birthday, which can also disrupt sleep.
  • 18 months to 24 months: A large linguistic development is often the cause of the separation anxiety and sleep disruptions at this age.
  • 2.5-3 years old: Creative or imaginative development is often the cause of the new “fear” that is causing bedtime troubles at this age.

How to Manage Sleep Regression

Here are some tips to help manage sleep regression:

  • Learn your baby’s sleep cues (like rubbing eyes, fussiness, yawning, and looking away) or if you can’t seem to figure out their ques (or they don’t seem to have any), then find their current ideal awake window, so you can get them to bed before they get overtired.
  • Keep a consistent sleep routine.
  • Make sure your baby gets enough sleep during the day.
  • If your baby wakes up crying, give them a minute to see if they’ll fall back asleep. If they don’t, check on them but not fall back to “old habits” if you can help it.
  • If you find yourself back into old habits or starting something you can’t maintain (after 1-2 weeks), then it may be time to look into some sleep training strategies.

Can You Prevent Sleep Regression?

Sadly, there’s no way to prevent sleep regression. However, keeping a consistent bedtime routine and sleep schedule can help reduce the likelihood of sleep problems.

When to Call the Doctor

If you have concerns about your child’s sleep, don’t hesitate to call your doctor. Also, if you’ve tried a sleep training method for at least two weeks and your child still has trouble sleeping, contact your doctor for advice.

Remember, sleep regression is normal and will likely pass with time. Keep sticking to your routines; before you know it, your child will sleep like a champ again.

Contact Us

Is your child experiencing sleep regression, and you need guidance on handling it? Reach out to us today, and let us provide you with the support and advice you need to navigate this temporary phase.