Yes, sleep regression is a reality that some people have to face – but you don’t have to be one of them. Typically, children who are strong sleepers don’t show major issues when going through a period of sleep regression.
What is sleep regression?
It’s a phrase mentioned by other parents when you say how great your three-month-old is sleeping. Kind of like “Voldemort” we all know it exists and is out there, but no one really wants to mention it for fear it will appear.
You don’t know what happened. Your wee one was sleeping decently, but now is waking every 20 minutes, or protesting the existence of naps.
Chances are it’s a sleep regression. Sleep regression: a period of time (1-4 weeks typically) when a child who was a good sleeper starts waking at night or hating on or skipping naps for no obvious reason – what the what? It often comes just when you think you’ve hit your stride, conquering all the sleep challenges – but then BAM you’re back to constant wakings and struggles.
It’s important to remember that sleep regression impacts different babies differently – some may show true signs at some of the below month-marks, but not others. And some strong sleepers show few issues at all.
4 Month Regression
Warning – this one’s not a phase. Changes happening here are permanent. No more baby sleep patterns, your wee one is sleeping more like an adult – with frequent night waking, fussing and shortened naps.
8 or 9 or even 10 Month Regression
These months are huge developmentally for babies. They’re learning to crawl, pull up, cruise and getting busier and busier! They’re absorbing language like crazy and probably starting to teeth. All together this can make for one cranky babe. Meaning, more night waking and shorter or even skipped naps.
11 or 12 Month Regression
Your wee one is less likely to be affected by this phase – but it happens! More focused on naps, this regression sees a lot of babes refusing second naps and trying to power through with only one. Most parents think this is a normal nap transition, but wee know that’s not the case – it’s a regression! Most toddlers really are not ready to have only one nap until about 15 months.
18 Month Regression
Starting to think it will never end? Say goodbye to baby and hello to toddler. Walking, talking, strolling, tantrum-throwing little toddlers. They want to be independent, are constantly learning and getting more and more expressive. Despite the often-new-found sassiness, this is where they genuinely start to miss you. Separation anxiety is real folks, and seems to rear its ugly head around nap and bedtime. Oh, and don’t forget teething!
2 Year Regression
A little less clear, this regression can be caused by a multitude of factors. A longer awake time, potty training, transitioning to a big-kid bed and having nightmares can all lead to a very tiring regression, making for one exhausted mom and dad!
Great, now we all know what sleep regression is and when it might happen, but how the heck are we supposed to survive it?
Here’s how to handle sleep regressions like a pro and not undo all the hard work your family has put into sleep training and shaping.
- Toss in an Extra Feed: Growth spurts are a factor in regressions, so don’t be afraid to offer some extra feedings – temporarily. Sooner rather than later you will return to your normal schedule.
- Don’t Fall Back: You’ve worked so so hard to develop good habits and routines. Tired as you might be (and likely are) make sure to offer comfort to your wee one as needed, but do not create new sleep associations or introduce new or former props!
- Lean on Your Tribe: These regressions can last a while (up to 4-6 weeks sometimes!) which makes for one tired mama – especially if you’re trying to cope while not creating new sleep associations. This is when it’s so important to ask for help. Friends, family whoever!
- Bump up Bedtime: Missed sleep=overtiredness=more missed sleep. To avoid an exhausted and a miserable wee one, offer an earlier bedtime when necessary.
Stay strong, positive and committed and you and your wee one will make it through any sleep regressions together. Don’t undo all your hard work – the short-term pain will lead to long-term gain, wee promise!!