Just when you think you’ve got this baby sleep thing figured out — boom — everything changes out of nowhere. It’s not your parenting style, your sleep training method, or your baby’s inability to sleep through the night. It’s a sleep regression, and yes, it is as terrible as is sounds. But what is a sleep regression exactly? It’s not simply the universe’s way of hating you.
According to the Baby Sleep Site, a sleep regression is defined as a phase of time where “a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps (or waking early from naps) for no apparent reason.” Sounds glorious doesn’t it? Sleep regressions happen several times during your child’s first few years of life, and although they’re never easy, knowing what to expect during a sleep regression may help give some structure to the chaos.
The first sleep regression generally happens when your baby is about four months old, according to the Sleep Lady, and it is less of a regression as it is a “rite of passage,” so to speak. Around this time, your baby will stop sleeping like a newborn (ie. all the time) and start sleeping more like a tiny adult. After this period is over, your baby will likely start to sleep for longer periods of time with normal sleep patterns of deep and active sleep.
After that, you can expect sleep regressions at about eight to 10 months, one year, 18 months, and two years, the Baby Sleep site noted. The good news is that even though it throws your entire bedtime routine (and daytime too) off, it’s a sign that your baby is hitting normal, healthy milestones. Sleep regressions are usually caused by new developments in your baby like teething, crawling, and walking, as well as other cognitive milestones as they become more aware of the world around them.
Although they’re an inevitable part of babyhood and parenting, remembering that they’re temporary changes can help you move through them more easily. Today’s Parent recommended that parents keep a flexible schedule during sleep regressions. Also, reinforcing healthy sleep habits (and not forming new bad habits) will ensure that the transition out of the regression will be a smooth one.