Common sleep regression stages occur at a few main ages of your baby's first couple of years. You can expect them at around 4, 8 and 12 months and then again at 18 months and finally at 2 years.We covered what a sleep regression is in this post, so here's how to get through them and not lose sanity.
In this post we’re going to break each one down but do please remember that these estimated times are just a guide. As with other milestones like sitting up, learning to roll and taking those first wobbly steps they could happen over a range of time. Just as two babies born on the same day won’t start crawling at the same time, their sleep regressions will vary too.
4-Month sleep regression
Major changes happen in the development of your baby at 4 months, including some big physical changes. So the 4-month sleep regression is one of the worst both in terms of how long it lasts, and the actual disruption. Lasting around five weeks you will find that your baby is pretty fussy and far harder to get to sleep and to stay asleep. So although a sleep cycle has just started to become regular (hopefully!) this one may well mess it up, and many baby sleep experts advise you to ‘do whatever you need to do to survive’. This may mean reverting to rocking your baby to sleep when you had managed to stop this previously! Sound can be a great way to soothe a fussy and baby and lots of parents introduce white noise during this stage to help encourage sleep.
Another thing to remember is that cutting down on daytime naps to encourage good overnight sleep is NOT the answer. At 4 months old your baby should get between 12 and 15 hours of sleep a day, but cutting down on naps won’t help in the evening. If napping out and about is part of your routine then to help daytime naps in the buggy a SnoozeShade is ideal for giving your baby a dark environment with no distractions.
8-Month Sleep Regression
Many babies are far more active from around 8 months onwards, crawling, pulling themselves up and cruising. There is also a big change in their emotional development and they suddenly are aware that you, their everything isn’t always there! Welcome to separation anxiety. This can cause a lot of upset at bedtime as you try to leave the room, for example. Ways to deal with this are helping them get used to not seeing you, show them that even if you leave the room that you will come back in, and play games like Peek a Boo. It can also be really helpful for your baby to see you if they wake during the night, to reassure them that you’re still around – just keep your actions to a gentle pat and a few words at first, resisting the temptation to pick your baby up.
12-month Sleep Regression
Walking, talking, eating loads of new food plus all the other newly acquired skills mean that the 12 month regression can be tough. Nobody wants to sleep when they are learning to communicate and move! However, this one generally lasts for about 2 weeks. A good way to get through it is to thoroughly tire your little one out during the day, and perhaps dropping to one nap a day, aiming for between 11-14 hours of sleep per day. During this, and future regressions it really is best to not resort to picking up your baby to rock them to sleep, as at this age it really won’t help to develop their independence.
18-month Sleep Regression
Similar to the previous regressions the 18 month experience will often be linked to new teeth (canines will probably be appearing around now!) as well as increase separation anxiety and increased cognitive development. Of course your baby is now a toddler, and quite possibly will be having tantrums and testing your patience with their behaviour, and this will happen during the night too. To get through it stick to a set bedtime routine, and try not to resort to extra naps in the day to make up for lack of sleep over night. Another thing to try is to get them more involved n decisions so they feel like they have some control – let them pour in the bath bubbles, pick the book to read at bedtime.
2-year Sleep Regression
Huge changes are afoot at 2 years old, your toddler may be moving out of their cot and into a bed, perhaps thinking about potty training, as well as hurtling about at speed! Add in their molars arriving and you’ve got some pretty painful teething to contend with. This one can last between 2 and 6 weeks, but thankfully is more than likely the last time you’ll experience a sleep regression, so it isn’t all bad!
Hopefully you’re now feeling a bit better about getting through these phases of broken sleep, disturbed nights and frustration! Just remember that they don’t last forever and once your child is a little older you will barely remember these stressful times!