February 15th, 2021

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One Stop Guide to Sleep Regression

Sleep regression, a big word for a small baby but one of the most common hurdles faced by most growing babies. Typically lasting two to four weeks, it has got multiple reasons why it turns up in babies. Now we understand the disappointment and the frequents “ugh” when a baby you once thought was sleep trained (with so much work put in from both you and your baby’s side) starts taking what seems like steps backwards more than forwards.

So what is sleep regression?

To first break down what sleep regression is, it is basically a sudden disruption or disturbance in sleep patterns where your child, who once was a happy camper when it came to sleepy time, suddenly shows signs that he/she does not want to go to sleep and starts waking up more often or fussing.
But, it’s not all that bad as it seems because sleep regression mostly is an indication that your little one has reached a very important development milestone. Periods of sleep regression exist sometimes as a sign that your child is onto the next big milestone such as teething, growth spurts, adjusting to a new environment (in case there was travel involved) or on the flip side it could be an easy way to understand that your baby has an ear infection or a cold.

Now, how do I figure out how to make this journey smoother?

Though it might seem like a mammoth task because no amount of waking up in the middle of the night to put your child to sleep is working out, we may have some tips to offer to you to help you out to make the transition back to smoother sleep time less tumultuous and more cakewalk-ish.
Read below to find more on what to expect during common sleep regressions and what can you do to sail through these regressions

1.     4 Months Sleep Regression: This is the beginning of many sleep regressions your baby will go through and the longest (sometimes lasting up to 5-6 weeks) making it one of the most difficult regressions to handle. It is also an important indicator of brain development and physical development as you may notice that your baby is probably rolling over, reaching for and holding objects, smiling, and understanding object permanence.

Signs & symptoms to look out for:

·       Baby that was sleeping well and through the night (except 1-2 night feedings), will be waking up more frequently during the night.

·       Baby will also struggle at nap times, waking up in 30-45 minutes, and sometimes may even resist naps completely.

How to handle?

·       Set up and implement a nap and bedtime routine consistently.

·       Since the baby is still young it will be easier to train her and hence it is even more important to set a routine/technique and stick to it.

·       Also, since the baby is more aware of their surroundings now, and will learn to anticipate routine and what’s happening next, she will find a great deal of comfort and security in knowing what’s next in their routine that leads to bedtime and falling asleep.


2.     6 & 9 Months Sleep Regression: These regressions are usually around the 7th/8th or even 9th month – so look out for changing sleep patterns as well as newly acquired skills to gauge if your baby is going through a regression!

Signs & symptoms to look out for:

·       Baby that was sleeping well and through the night (except 1-2 night feedings), will be waking up more frequently during the night.

·       Baby will also struggle at nap times, waking up in 30-45 minutes, and sometimes may even resist naps completely.

How to handle?

·       Stick to baby’s nap and bedtime routine and overall daily schedule consistently.

·       Baby needs extra love and attention during the day to help provide reassurance about parent presence and added security during a regression.

·       Discuss possible pain relief options with pediatrician if the parents think   that teething is causing pain and sleep disruption

·       Baby may be experiencing separation anxiety so play games like peek-a-boo during the day to let her know that even when you go, you come back quickly, to help ease the anxiety.


3.     12 Months Sleep Regression: This regression is driven by the additional and exciting mobility skills (like walking/scooting), ability to talk as well as immense cognitive development. No wonder, your baby is finding it difficult and boring to sleep and staying asleep 😊

Signs & symptoms to look out for:

·       Baby may again become clingy, cranky and crying more often

·       Have frequent night waking and shorter naps

How to handle?

·       Provide baby with opportunities to practice their new skills and engage them in both physical and mental activities that interest them during their awake time.

·       Give them a chance to make simple choices, like choosing what to wear, which toy to play with etc.

·       Seek their help in simple tasks, like closing a cabinet door, putting something away.

·       Consult your pediatrician about pain relief options, if teething pain is troubling them.

·       Provide reassurance in the form of extra attention and snuggles while they’re awake, and if needed, lengthen the bedtime or naptime routine a bit temporarily to help with any separation anxiety they might be going through.

·       Be extra patient and compassionate as your baby needs your help in handling all those big feeling that they are experiencing.

·       Ensure that your baby is on an age appropriate schedule and follow that consistently to make them comfortable


4.     18 Months Sleep Regression: Let me warn you, this may be the hardest regression of all (yes more than the 4th month one! : )). The reason for that is the added behavioral aspect that accompanies it!

Signs & symptoms to look out for:

Baby may start waking again during night and have shorter nap times, in fact even resist naps all together.

How to handle?

·       Give baby plenty of options during the day to exercise their independence.

·       During naptime or bedtime, let them choose what story to read, bath toys to play with or songs to sing. This provides the outlet they need without making sleep time a battleground.

·       Since this regression marks a lot of cognitive development, it is extremely important to have a structured routine so that they understand what is coming next and are not perplexed with any changes.


5.     24 Months Sleep Regression: Yay! Lets start with the good news first – this is the last of sleep regressions that your baby will be going through. The not so good part is that it may last for 2-6 weeks as well like other sleep regressions. This regression is also driven by new changes/development that your baby is going through such as potty training, transitioning to own bed, increased separations anxiety, younger sibling etc.

Signs & symptoms to look out for:

Similar to the 18th month regression, baby may start waking again during night and have shorter nap times, in fact even resist naps all together.

How to handle?

·       Offer your baby plenty of attention during the day to give them a sense of added comfort and security.

·       Acknowledge their fears and talk about them, also make them understand that you are there for them.

Final thoughts

Remember, sleep regression lasts only a few weeks and are often an indicator of your baby’s healthy development. Therefore, it is important to provide additional comfort during the day to help build the confidence in your baby. It is also very important to have a set daily schedule which is followed consistently to provide the necessary comfort, so your baby knows what to expect next. If your baby is already sleep trained, then it is important to stick to the sleep training method and not develop any new sleep crutches which may become difficult to get rid of later. If your baby is not sleep trained yet, use this opportunity to get your baby on a schedule and help them get the necessary sleep which is needed to aid your baby’s growth.

We at Sweet Dreams Baby have multiple plans curated specifically to cater to every family’s individual needs. Via understanding the need for better sleep health for both the baby and the family, we help you sail through the rough seas of parenting and come through to help you on this journey!



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