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What is Sleep Regression in Babies?

What is Sleep Regression in Babies?

Baby’s blissful bedtime routine suddenly become a nightmare? If your little one is experiencing sleep issues, there could be a whole host of reasons, including baby sleep regression. It can cause a sudden disruption to your little one’s sleep routine that can last for weeks. The change often seems to come out of nowhere, but there are some factors that can cause sleep regression in babies. But don’t worry; there are things you can do to help little one sleep better and re-establish a routine sooner.


What are the common signs of sleep regression in babies?

The most common signs of sleep regression in babies? The biggest clue is if your little one suddenly starts sleeping badly after previously sleeping well. That said, sleep regression in babies can come in more forms than you might expect, from refusing afternoon naps, to struggling to settle for hours at night.

Before deciding that sleep regression is the cause of your baby’s disturbed routine, it’s important to eliminate other possible causes, such as illness or overheating. Once you’re confident that baby sleep regression is the problem, you can begin finding the solution that works for you.

Why do babies struggle to sleep?

Is your little one struggling to sleep through the night? If you’ve noticed some of the common signs of baby sleep regression, let’s look at why this might be. It’s completely natural for babies to go through these stages of sleep regression.

Some reasons can include:
  • Experiencing teething
  • Sleeping in unfamiliar places, for example if you’re travelling with baby
  • Being overtired
  • Going through potty training means baby might wake through the night as they learn when to use the bathroom

When does a baby experience sleep regression?

While it can affect your little one at any age, there are some common milestones that trigger sleep regression in babies.

4 month sleep regression

Probably the most common age for sleep regression is when a baby reaches four months old. The reason? Teething often starts around this age and symptoms tend to be worse at night for many little ones. Find out more about the link between teething and sleep.

It’s not the only cause though; your baby can go through the 4 month sleep regression stage even if they are yet to begin teething. Another key development at this age is that your baby now has a clearer perception of night and day, causing a shift in their sleeping routine. Some babies find this easier to adapt to than others.

9 month sleep regression

Survived the 4 month sleep regression stage? Unfortunately, it doesn’t always stop there. Another common trigger occurs when a baby is around nine months old. At this age, your baby is beginning to develop a whole range of new skills, including key milestones such as crawling, walking and talking.

All these new developments are exciting for your little one and may lead them to want to sleep less as they continue to discover their abilities and the wider world. The result? The 9 month sleep regression stage means less napping and difficult bedtimes.

18 month sleep regression

Your baby may be moving out of the infant stage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that bedtimes will become a breeze. Sleep regression in toddlers is not uncommon and can be triggered by several factors, from the excitement of reaching yet more milestones, through to growing independence. Here are some signs of sleep regression in toddlers that you could look out for:
  • If they experience their first nightmares
  • If they wake very early in the morning
  • If they seem more fussy than usual or are crying more than they usually do

Remember that if baby displays any of these behaviors, it doesn’t definitely mean they are experiencing 18 month sleep regression. It might just be that they are experiencing their first nightmare. But if your little one does show these signs more regularly, it could be sleep regression.

So, what can you do to help baby through each stage and help to improve their sleep and comfort?

How to help sleep regression in babies

When it comes to coping with sleep regression, it’s really a case of making your baby’s bedtime routine as soothing and comfortable as possible:
  • Create a soothing bedroom environment: Use blackout blinds to block out daylight, play music to create a soothing soundtrack and put your little one to sleep in soothing natural baby bedding that will keep them cool and comfortable.
  • Keep a close eye on your baby’s temperature: Being too warm is a common cause of sleep disruption in both adults and children. Because babies are still developing, they are not yet able regulate their body temperature effectively, putting them at increased risk of overheating. Babies under 12 months old are particularly vulnerable to overheating and extra care should be taken. Learn more about your baby’s ideal sleeping temperature.
  • Make time to wind down: Gradually dim the lights in the hour before your baby’s bedtime, put noisy toys away and switch entertainment from their favorite TV program to their favorite book, to help create a calming environment that sets the scene for rest.
  • Avoid changes to baby’s bedtime routine: Following night after night of sleep deprivation, it may be tempting to try a new routine. However, little ones are particularly sensitive to changes in routine and it could result in an even worse night’s sleep. Even if it does work, you could end up committing yourself to a new routine that’s difficult to sustain in the long-term – creating bigger sleep problems further down the line. Think carefully before making changes at this stage.
  • Maximize your own sleep quality too: Because getting a better night’s sleep will help you deal with the day ahead. While sleep disruptions can’t always be helped, there are steps you can take to improve your sleep quality when you can get a nap. Turn electronic devices off at least an hour before bed to eliminate the disruptive effects of blue light, and surround yourself in natural bedding – wool bedding, for example, has been proven to help you reach the optimal temperature for sleep sooner. So you can get a little more sleep before baby wakes.

Looking for more Baby Sleep Advice? Visit our hub to get sleep tips on everything from teething to temperatures.