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Infant Sleep Regressions: What Parents Need to Know

We’ve all heard the word and felt the dread…sleep regression! I get it, Mama! But before you get nervous and change everything you are doing, let’s take a minute to understand why they occur and what you can do.

What are Sleep Regressions?

Sleep regressions are periods of time when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking up frequently during the night and having difficulty falling asleep. These regressions typically happen around certain developmental milestones or changes in routine, and can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

The most common sleep regression periods occur at around 4 months, 8-10 months, 12-18 months, and 2 years of age. These regressions are often associated with developmental milestones such as learning to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, or talk.

Though typically called “regressions”, they are actually “progressions”. Your baby is progressing forward, learning new skills, and growing! Unfortunately, that does often affect sleep.

Why? Think of a time when you have had a lot on your mind. You may have had trouble sleeping too because your brain was so stimulated. This is exactly what sleep regressions are. These new developments cause your baby’s mind to be extra active, hindering sleep.

How to Handle Sleep Regressions?

The good news is that sleep regressions are usually temporary, and with patience and perseverance, you and your child can get through them. Here are some tips for handling sleep regressions:

  1. Stick to a consistent bedtime routine. Make sure your child's bedtime routine is consistent, with the same activities and in the same order every night. This will help signal to your child that it's time to wind down and get ready for sleep.

  2. Be flexible. During a sleep regression, your child may need more comfort and reassurance than usual. Be prepared to spend more time soothing your child to sleep. However, don’t make any big changes during this time. It can be tempting to bring your child in bed with you, nurse them to sleep, or try another type of comforting measure to help them sleep. Keeping their routine as close to normal as possible and avoiding creating any new associations is the best way to make it out without having new issues to deal with.

  3. Be patient. Sleep regressions can be frustrating, but remember that they are temporary. Try to stay patient and consistent with your child's sleep routine, and things will eventually get back to normal.

Repeat after me– “This too shall pass!” Sleep regressions are not forever. Follow these steps and you will make it through and be back to your peaceful sleeper.


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