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What You Need to Know About Sleep Regressions

We’ve all heard of them and all parents dread them. But, what exactly is a sleep regression and why does it disrupt our children’s sleep? Keep reading to find out the answers and how you can best help your little one!

What is a sleep regression?

A sleep regression is generally a period of 1-2 weeks where suddenly your child’s sleep doesn’t seem to come as easily as it has before. During a sleep regression, many children may fight sleep at bedtime, wake more often through the night, resist naps, or even take shorter naps than usual. These sleep refusals often lead to overtiredness of both the child and parents, resulting in a cranky baby and exhausted parents.

Why sleep regressions happen?

While these sleep regression are frustrating for many parents, they happen as a result of your child growing, learning, and experiencing new things in their environment. So, while it may feel like a regression in sleep, it’s actually your child progressing in development! Regression = Progression!

As your child grows, especially in the first 18 months, they’re hitting regular developmental milestones. They’re learning so many fun new skills like crawling, babbling, standing, walking, and even more subtle skills like noticing shapes & patterns. Your child is discovering the world around them and sometimes these milestones can throw off sleep patterns for a short time. If a sleep regression lasts longer than 2 or 3 weeks, there most likely is a deeper issue causing broken sleep.

The age in which developmental milestones occur varies for every child, but we typically see these new skills emerge around 4 months, 6 months, 8 - 10months, 12 months, and 18 months. Whew! That sounds exhausting just reading it!

Here’s the good news: It will pass!

What can you do to promote sleep during a regression?

Get in lots of practice!

Encourage your little one to practice their new skills throughout the day. For babies and toddlers, bedtime seems like a great time to practice new skills and is the perfect distraction to keep them from falling asleep. Practice during the day will help them to hone these skills more quickly, so they will be less likely to want to practice them during sleep times. Working on new skills for at least 5 minutes 3 times a day can help your child quickly master their new skill.

Use an early bedtime.

Utilize an early bedtime for about 3 to 4 days. If your child is taking shorter naps than usual or waking more frequently through the night, shift bedtime to start 30-60 minutes EARLIER. This will help your child's body catch up on missed sleep. This will also help prevent them from becoming too overtired during this period causing more wakings and nap struggles.

Stay the course.

Stick to your normal schedule and routine. When your child’s sleep suddenly changes, many parents assume they are doing something wrong or it’s time for a change. We want to avoid forming new habits that you don’t intend on continuing once they’re through this transition. Children thrive with consistency. Remaining consistent with the current schedule & routines that are familiar to your child will help them get through this much easier.

Give extra cuddles and snuggles throughout the day!

Can you ever give to many cuddles? I don’t think so! It’s likely that your child will be a bit more cranky or clingy as they go through this transition. Offering lots of snuggles during wake times will help.

Have patience.

I know how this one is. It is difficult to see your little one struggle and patience does not come easy when you're also lacking sleep. Regressions are a normal part of development and usually short lived if you remain consistent in your schedules, routines and responses. I promise, this will pass and your child will come out on the other side with some brand new skills!


If you’re struggling through a regression or need help getting back on track, I’m here for you! Let’s set up a free 15-minute Introductory call to get started!


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