Understand and Overcome Your Baby's Sleep Regression

Babies may suffer from sleep regression, which is why it’s very important for you to understand it to be able to overcome it.
Understand and Overcome Your Baby's Sleep Regression

Last update: 27 May, 2020

Sleep is very important for parents, as valuable as the air they breathe and the food they eat. For babies, sleeping is just as, or even more important. There may be times when your baby seems to be starting to sleep better, but suddenly, a totally puzzling sleep regression begins.

However, from now on, you’ll be able to understand it to overcome it!

Baby sleep patterns

If babies seem to spend most of the day sleeping, it’s because, somehow, they do. Newborns normally sleep at least 16 hours a day (both during the day and night). That amount decreases with age, but a little more than 14 hours at six months is necessary. When a baby turns one, they still need a little less than 14 hours of sleep.

Naps count as part of the total sleep. But, due to the fact that each child is different, the sleep requirements differ per child. It’s likely that at least a couple of months will pass before your newborn is settled into the desired routine of three naps per day.

Understand and Overcome Your Baby's Sleep Regression

If the first few weeks of parenting seem like a big sleepless blur, welcome to the club. Your newborn partially dictates when you sleep based on when they sleep. Rest assured, by three months, most babies get about two-thirds of their sleep needs at night.

But your baby’s new sleep patterns can, and will, change. This is called sleep regression, and it happens to babies and toddlers alike. It’s a phase where babies and toddlers start waking up randomly at night and don’t nap for no obvious reason.

Stages and causes of sleep regression

Five stages of regression occur in infants and young children:

  1. Four months. At four months, a baby takes shorter naps and more frequent night awakenings. This regression is permanent.
  2. Eight months. Developmental milestones, such as crawling, occur in the eight to ten-month range. Also, babies learn many new words as they start teething. These are all viable reasons to trigger a regression.
  3. Eleven months. This can be referred to as nap regression. Your baby may begin to take a second nap every day. Actually, they won’t be ready for a single nap until they’re approximately 15 months.
  4. Eighteen months. Your baby is now a toddler and a lot of factors contribute to this regression. They’re now more independent, as they walk and talk. Also, they’ve discovered the art of tantrums, combined with the dreaded word “no.” And, of course, teething is still a factor. Yes, the eighteen-month sleep regression can skyrocket quickly.
  5. Two years. Several factors can be attributed to this regression. Diaper weaning, the arrival of a brother, moving from the cradle to the bed, etc.

How to deal with sleep regression

You can try some methods to restore your baby’s sleep patterns. Firstly, try more meals, either at night or during the day. Accelerated growth isn’t just for teens. Remember that your baby is hungry and needs extra calories.

Understand and Overcome Your Baby's Sleep Regression

Nothing makes a baby feel safer than cuddles from their mom or dad. Comfort your baby with additional kisses and hugs but avoid creating bad habits, such as rocking them so they can fall sleep or giving them a pacifier when you already took it away from them.

Lack of sleep makes everyone tired, so try to institute an earlier bedtime. This is a solid strategy if they miss naps or wake up a lot at night. Lastly, you don’t have to go through this alone. Talk to other parents and ask them for tips and tricks. And, of course, turn to your partner. You’re both in this together.

When your child cries because they don’t want to sleep

Young children can be a bit more challenging as they get older, so try these tips when your child cries because they don’t want to sleep:

  • Set boundaries. You’re the one in charge and your child needs to know this. You’re the boss. When it’s time to sleep, it’s time to sleep.
  • Be consistent. Remember that this is only a phase.
  • Resist change. You don’t need to drastically alter your child’s schedule. This too shall pass.
  • Other problems. Pay close attention to your child, as their sleeping problems may not be a regression but a sign of a different problem.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.