Sleep Regressions and How to Cope

Just as your baby had fallen into a predictable sleep pattern, she’s suddenly up every hour at night fussing, and you’re both exhausted! What gives? Most likely, a sleep regression is to blame.

Sleep regressions refer to a period of time, usually between 1 to 4 weeks, when your baby begins waking more often at night. Regressions occur around the same time for most babies, and are thought to be linked to developmental milestones. Like adults, babies can’t turn their busy minds off at night, and unfortunately haven’t learned to settle themselves back to sleep.

Around 4 months, your baby will enter a permanent shift in sleep patterns. She will no longer cycle in and out of newborn sleep, and will need your help learning how to settle back down.

At 8, 9 or 10 months, you may notice another sleep regression. This one is likely due to all the development happening your little one is experiencing—he may be teething, or trying to crawl, sit up on his own or pull himself up to standing, etc. There’s a lot going on, and that can keep him awake.

Sleep regressions are temporary, though they can last a couple of weeks. Try these survival tips in the meantime: 

  • Be consistent: Just because your baby’s sleep has changed does not mean your routine has to as well. Continue your regular naptime and bedtime routines for your baby. The structure will help her connect your routine with sleep.
  • Keep a soothing environment: Try white noise and a night-light in your baby’s room to help her make the most of her sleep. You may try a calming bath or massage before bedtime to calm her down and prepare for a good night’s rest.
  • Beware of bad habits: Be mindful of how you handle your baby’s night wakings. You’ll want to calm your baby and settle her, but try not to create sleep associations you’re not comfortable continuing, like nursing or rocking her back to sleep each time she wakes. Over time, doing so will cause her to rely on those methods to fall back to sleep, and the goal is to get her to do so on her own.

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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