Whether you are welcoming your first baby or your fourth, there are many things to learn throughout the nine-month journey, such as when to feed your baby, what healthy sleep patterns are, and how to create healthy sleep habits. Although many people take parenting classes and birth classes, they often are not taught about the inevitable — sleep regression. Although perfectly normal, many parents wonder what sleep regression is, and how do you know if your baby is experiencing it?
What is Sleep Regression?
The word regression is marked by the return to a less developed state. For example, your baby who has been sleeping through the night will begin waking more frequently than usual. Sleep regressions are a normal part of infancy, and occur at many different ages. The Cleveland Clinic reports sleep regression is a healthy part of growing, as it means your child is developing appropriately, and hitting new milestones.
Whether the regression occurs at four months, six months, eight months, or up to two years of age - sleep regression is an unavoidable part of caring for a baby. Although it can bring quite a bit of frustration, understanding why these things occur, and what you can do to help your baby, will make the transition smoother.
Why does Sleep Regression Happen?
Sleep regressions happen for many different reasons. New parents find themselves searching for the best methods of sleep training to ensure their baby’s sleep is healthy, and lasts for longer periods. However, many do not understand why sleep regression happens. The most common causes include:
Teething is a natural process that occurs at different ages, and varies for most babies. Babies can start teething weeks to months before a tooth breaks through the gums, leaving them uncomfortable, in pain, and extremely irritable. You will begin to notice your baby biting, chewing, and drooling much more than usual. Due to the discomfort associated with teething, most babies experience disrupted sleep patterns as well.
Infection and illness can cause a wide variety of problems for both mom and baby. Whether it be an ear infection, cold, cough, or congestion, your baby is uncomfortable, and does not understand why. Being ill greatly impacts sleep for many babies - especially with severe congestion.
Changes in Habits
As the baby grows, they develop their routine and schedule. When their “normal” is interrupted, they are less capable to adapt than the average adult. Your baby may begin waking earlier than usual, or experiencing difficulty falling asleep at night.
Whether going on a lavish vacation, or heading out to visit family, traveling inevitably disrupts a baby’s life from nap time to their normal sleep environment. During travel, you must stick to a normal sleep schedule as best as possible, so as not to cause regression.
Changes in Environment
Have you recently moved to a new home, or started a new venture into daycare? Changes in the environment can significantly impact nap time, separation anxiety, and healthy sleep habits.
As your baby grows, they are learning new things such as colors, people, how to crawl, walk, and even talk. Learning new things in such a small amount of time takes a lot of energy, leaving your baby to suffer extreme exhaustion, and may even result in nighttime awakenings after they have mastered sleeping through the night.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Regression?
Newborn sleep patterns are vastly different from toddler sleep patterns. Because of this, symptoms of sleep regression vary between many babies, depending on age, brain development, and their ability to self-soothe.
Refusing to Nap
Several medical associations report sleep regression is marked by a baby suddenly no longer wanting to take a nap at normal times. For example, if your baby normally takes two naps per day, he/she may begin fighting sleep when it comes to the second nap, or simply stay awake.
Changes in Mood
Similar to adults, your baby relies on sleep to help regulate emotions and mood. When a baby's sleep is disrupted, whether it be during daytime hours or at night, your baby may become more irritable than usual. Not all babies experience changes in mood, however, it is important to note that this is a normal part of sleep regression.
Brain development, hitting milestones, and learning new things takes a toll on a baby, and causes an increase in caloric needs. You may find your baby to be experiencing hunger cues more frequently than usual during a sleep regression. This is a normal sign of sleep regression, and formula, breast milk, or food should not be withheld just because it “is not the time” for their next feeding.
Changes in Bedtime
While it is a normal part of newborn sleep patterns for your baby to wake in the middle of the night, when sleep regressions occur, you might begin to feel as if you will never sleep again. Sleep regression affects bedtime routine and a child’s sleep. Although these may not be permanent changes, it can be a very trying time adding stress to both baby and parents.
How Long does Sleep Regression Last?
Although sleep regressions occur multiple times throughout infancy into becoming a toddler, the length of sleep regressions depend on the time sleep regressions happen, whether it be:
- Infant sleep regressions
- Toddler sleep regressions
Not only is the age of the child at the time of sleep regression taken into consideration, but the direct cause of sleep regressions is also a factor in length. It can take up to six weeks for sleep regression to subside, as it takes time for your baby to adjust to the new normal.
In addition, if your child is experiencing sleep regression due to illness, it can take several weeks for your child’s body to heal from the infection or illness. As a result, your child will likely not return to a normal sleep pattern, until they are feeling better.
If your child is experiencing sleep regression for more than six weeks with no obvious cause, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician, to ensure nothing is occurring that cannot be seen.
When is the Most Common Time for Sleep Regression?
Sleep regression occurs at different ages as your baby grows; however, sleep regressions typically begin around three months, and reoccur every few months. It is important to note that if your baby was born premature, they may experience sleep regressions at the rate of their adjusted age - meaning considering their age from the expected due date, rather than their actual age.
When does Sleep Regression Happen?
Sleep regressions begin at the early stages of infancy, and continue as your newborn quickly becomes a toddler. Regardless of the cause, whether it be a growth spurt, life changes, or separation anxiety, sleep regression is an unavoidable part of raising a baby.
4-month Sleep Regression
The four-month sleep regression occurs as your baby transitions from newborn sleep patterns to more established sleep patterns. Medically reviewed documents report the four-month sleep regression occurring at four months, although many moms report experiencing this regression as early as three months. This sleep regression typically allows for a normal schedule where both mom and baby get more sleep.
The 4-month sleep regression is marked by temporary changes in nap time, restless sleep at night, an increase in night wakings, and difficulty falling asleep after waking.
6-Month Sleep Regression
The six-month sleep regression has similar signs as a 4-month sleep regression; however, medical associations believe symptoms of this regression do not last long enough to mark it as true sleep regression. Around six months of age, your baby is learning new skills, such as sitting unassisted, as well as experiencing teeth breaking through - all of which causes their body to work overtime affecting sleep patterns.
8-Month Sleep Regression
Between months 8 to 10, your baby goes through many developmental changes. These changes include learning many new things such as:
- How to crawl
- How to pull up on stationary objects or furniture
- Begin absorbing language
- Cutting teeth
Learning the world around them, your baby at this stage begins taking shorter or less frequent naps, and has an increased difficulty staying asleep at night.
9-Month Sleep Regression
The nine-month regression is just a continuation of the 8-month regression. For some babies, they may not experience the 8-month regression until 9 to 10 months of age - especially premature babies developing at their adjusted age versus actual age. Parents need to note that if your baby does not enter into this regression until 9 to 10 months, this does not mean your child is developmentally delayed.
10-Month Sleep Regression
The ten-month regression is similar to the 8 and 9 months, and could be a continuation of this regression, depending on when it started. Medical experts report the regression between 8 to 10 months can last up to six weeks for some babies. By 10 months of age, babies can pull up on the side of their crib, so it is important to ensure the mattress is lowered, so the baby cannot climb out or fall.
11-Month Sleep Regression
Not all babies experience the 11-month regression. During this phase of life, your baby may start phasing out their second nap. Medically reviewed information suggests babies should continue a sleep schedule with two naps until approximately 15 months; therefore, you must treat this change as temporary, and continue a normal sleep schedule.
12-Month Sleep Regression
By 12 months of age, your baby has become more aware of their surroundings, and is more interested in the world around them. As a result, during the 12-month sleep regression, he is less likely to be interested in sleeping, and may begin fighting sleep more often. Maintaining bedtime routines can help the transition of this regression.
15-Month Sleep Regression
Around 15 months, your baby is less likely to continue with a two nap schedule. If nap time is not transitioned to allow for the added time between nap and bedtime, your baby will experience over exhaustion by bedtime making it more difficult for them to fall asleep. To ensure your baby is getting enough sleep, implement an earlier bedtime.
18-Month Sleep Regression
Freedom and independence begin around 18 months of age, leaving your baby to form their own opinion, and potentially be able to tell you “no!” to things they do not want to do. The 18-month sleep regression occurs as a result of incoming molars, which can be extremely painful, or an increase in separation anxiety during naptime or bedtime. Although your baby is crying for you to lay with them, it is important not to create bad bedtime habits that may not be easily reversed.
24-Month Sleep Regression
During the 24 month regression, your toddler's sleep schedule changes drastically. From potty training, transitioning to a big kid bed, longer wake times, and even night terrors - many factors come into play in regards to a healthy sleep schedule.
Parent Tips for Handling Sleep Regression
At PlushBeds, we understand the daunting task of making parenting decisions alone, which is why we have gathered these helpful tips for handling sleep regression at any age.
Maintain a Routine
Familiarity is comforting at all ages, whether it be four months or two years old. By maintaining a normal routine, you can provide a bit of comfort in an uncomfortable situation for your baby.
Offer Extra Reeds
As your baby goes through many developmental and life changes, their little body is forced into overtime to keep up. As a result, the number of calories being absorbed increases drastically, leaving them to experience more hunger than usual. It is recommended to feed on demand, even if this means offering an extra daytime or nighttime feed for comfort. This is a temporary time, and their body will regulate itself again.
Implement an Earlier Bedtime
Sleep disturbances can wreak havoc on your baby. Although they wake more frequently throughout the night, they are more frustrated throughout the day, and ultimately fight sleep the next time. This is typically caused by too much wake time for their age, and not receiving the recommended minimum amount of sleep. To reduce irritability and over exhaustion, experts report implementing an earlier bedtime can help them adjust to the changes.
During sleep regressions, your baby is likely to experience extreme discomfort - especially if the regression is the result of illness or teething. During these times, it is important to offer more comfort to your baby, without creating bad habits that cannot be easily reversed. For example, if your baby is weaned off of the pacifier, do not introduce the pacifier back, as this will cause conflict after the regression has ended.
Ask for Help
A regression can last as little as one week up to six weeks. During this time, your baby is sleeping less than usual, meaning you are also sleeping less than usual, and it can quickly become taxing on you and your overall well-being. It is important to lean on those around you, and ask for help with things during this difficult time, whether it be housework or help from someone else waking one night with the baby, so you can get some well-deserved rest.
During sleep regressions, the means of comfort for your little love can change. Offering comfort items, such as a softer mattress, or even an age-appropriate sleep sack, is a great option in providing comfort without creating bad habits that are hard to break.
PlushBeds is Here to Help!
At PlushBeds, we offer sustainable, handcrafted mattresses, pillows, and bedding. Our team of experts has worked tirelessly to curate non-toxic, chemical-free, all-natural products to provide you with a safe sleep space night after night. We use GOLS Certified Organic latex, GOTS Certified Organic cotton, and temperature-regulating properties to keep you cool all night, as well as to help protect your mattress from things such as dust mites and dander that may accumulate over time.
We understand that you cannot decide within five minutes if a mattress is right for you; therefore, we offer a 100 night risk-free trial for all mattresses. To make the deal sweeter, we also provide fast, free shipping with no minimum purchase required! Love it, or return your mattress, within the trial period, with the help of our friendly customer service associates.
All of our products have undergone rigorous testing to achieve the highest-rated certifications, ensuring a safe sleep space no matter what. A few of these certifications include:
- GOTS Certification
- GOLS Certification
- GreenGuard Gold certification
- CertiPUR Certification
Whether you are looking for a new mattress, mattress topper, or bedding - we offer items to fit the needs of the entire family.
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