Two words strike fear in every new parent: sleep regression.
I get it. (And I’ve totally been there!) Because just when you think you’ve found your groove … just when you’ve nailed their sleep routine … BAM!
You’re back at it with sleepless nights, early wake-ups, and nap refusals.
One friend told me she raced to her son’s pediatrician, convinced something was wrong with her sleepless two-year-old. But, nope – it was just a regression!
Sleep regressions are such a popular topic among new parents that in 2019, The New York Times published an article titled “Are Sleep Regressions Real?”
The article questioned the psychology behind the concept and reported that a 2012 sleep study indicated that “just 28 percent of the 300 or so parents of 3-month-olds … had complained about sleep problems …)
(I’m willing to bet if you’re reading this blog post, you’re a part of that statistic!)
During a sleep regression, you can expect your little one to be harder to get to sleep. They also might wake up more frequently at night and earlier in the day.
I’ve had dozens of tired parents come to me frustrated, confused, anxious, and exhausted, and I always tell them these 4 things.
Keep reading to learn what they are!
1. Sleep Regressions are GOOD
A sleep regression is usually a symptom of a developmental milestone.
As your infant approaches a new phase of development (think: rolling over, walking, talking, etc.), they will likely experience various frustrating symptoms, including fussiness, refusing to nurse or bottle feed, and yes – sleep regression.
And as frustrating as those symptoms are, they’re GOOD because they indicate that your little one is on track developmentally.
(Note: Sometimes, sleep regressions occur after a significant life event or change in routine. For example, a toddler might regress after a new baby is born, or an infant might regress after a big family trip where sleep routines weren’t made a priority.
Regardless of the reason, the ways we handle sleep regressions are the same.)
Related – The Wonder Weeks & Sleep: What Every New Parent Needs to Know
2. Sleep Regressions are TEMPORARY
Because most sleep regressions happen as a result of developmental growth, once your infant or toddler passes the milestone, their sleep patterns should return to normal (if you didn’t introduce sleep crutches during the regression).
While every baby is different, you can expect a developmental leap to last anywhere from 1-5 weeks.
So, when the going gets tough, remember: it won’t last forever.
3. Sleep Regressions are PREDICTABLE
Most sleep regressions occur around 4, 8, and 18 months. While, according to The Wonder Weeks, there are 10 developmental leaps during a baby’s first 20 months, these months seem to impact sleep the most.
The 4-Month Sleep Regression, anecdotally, seems to be the most challenging for most parents, but I think this is mainly because they aren’t expecting it.
But when you know what to expect, you can prepare yourself for what’s to come! Just remember: it’s temporary!
4. Sleep Regressions are SURVIVABLE
You – yes you! – can survive your baby’s sleep regression!
First, drill this word into your head: CONSISTENCY. Try your hardest to stick to your sleep plan throughout the regression.
You can modify it if needed, but staying consistent will pay off in the long run.
If you haven’t already, start a bedtime/naptime routine. I like this one:
- Lights out
Regardless of the routine, stick with it. Bedtime rituals serve as a major sleep cue and set your little one up for success.
Also, resist the urge to introduce a sleep crutch during a regression. As tempting as it is to rock or feed them to sleep, avoid doing so at all costs; if you don’t – your sleep regression could last much longer.
Lastly, practice self-care. If you have a partner, trade-off nighttime duties if possible. If you’re a single parent, seek help from family and friends.
Rest when you can during the day, and ensure you’re fueling your body with nutritious food. (Not just coffee!)
Let Me Sum It Up For You
Sleep regressions are frustrating and can leave even the most confident parents confused and anxious.
So, remember these 4 things when you’re faced with one:
Sleep regressions are …
Can I answer any other questions for you about sleep regressions? If so, drop a comment below.
And if you think your child has been experiencing a sleep regression for a little too long, let’s chat. I’d love to help you get back your restful nights!