Dealing with Sleep Regressions: What to Expect and How to Cope

Sleep regressions can be one of the most challenging phases for new parents. Just when you think you have your baby’s sleep routine figured out, they suddenly start waking up at all hours of the night. Understanding what sleep regressions are, why they happen, and how to cope can make a significant difference in how you handle these trying times. In this article, we’ll explore what to expect during sleep regressions and provide practical tips to help you and your baby navigate through them.

What Are Sleep Regressions?

Sleep regressions are periods when a baby who previously slept well suddenly starts waking up frequently during the night, having trouble falling asleep, or taking shorter naps. These regressions are typically linked to developmental milestones and growth spurts.

Common Ages for Sleep Regressions:

  • 4 Months: Often the first sleep regression as babies start becoming more aware of their surroundings.
  • 8-10 Months: Linked to crawling, standing, and separation anxiety.
  • 12 Months: Associated with walking and more physical activity.
  • 18 Months: Often due to increased independence and possible teething.
  • 2 Years: Linked to potty training, language development, and transitioning to a toddler bed.

Why Do Sleep Regressions Happen?

Sleep regressions are a normal part of your baby’s development. They can be caused by:

  • Developmental Milestones: As babies learn new skills, their brains are more active, which can disrupt sleep.
  • Growth Spurts: Increased physical growth can lead to changes in sleep patterns.
  • Separation Anxiety: As babies become more aware of their surroundings, they might struggle with being away from their parents.
  • Teething: Pain and discomfort from emerging teeth can wake a baby at night.

How to Cope with Sleep Regressions

  1. Stick to a Routine Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine helps signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down. This might include a warm bath, a gentle massage, and a bedtime story.

  2. Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment Ensure your baby’s room is conducive to sleep. Use blackout curtains to keep the room dark, a white noise machine to drown out disturbances, and keep the temperature comfortable.

  3. Offer Comfort but Avoid New Habits It’s important to comfort your baby during a sleep regression, but try not to introduce new habits that might be hard to break later, like rocking them to sleep every night.

  4. Be Patient and Consistent Consistency is key. Stick to your routine and sleep strategies, even if it feels like they’re not working immediately. Sleep regressions are temporary, and maintaining consistency will help your baby get back on track.

  5. Adjust Nap Schedules Sometimes, adjusting nap times can help. If your baby is taking long naps during the day, it might be affecting their nighttime sleep.

  6. Ensure Your Baby is Well-Fed Make sure your baby is getting enough to eat during the day. Sometimes, frequent night waking is due to hunger.

  7. Take Care of Yourself Sleep regressions can be exhausting for parents. Make sure to take breaks, ask for help, and rest when you can. A well-rested parent can better handle the challenges of a sleep regression.

Sleep regressions can be tough, but understanding why they happen and how to cope can make them more manageable. Remember, these phases are temporary, and with patience and consistency, your baby’s sleep will improve. For more tips and support on baby sleep and other parenting topics, visit and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.

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