If you’re asking yourself this question, chances are that you’ve been short on sleep, and so has your very cranky, sleep-fighting baby. Sleep regressions are difficult for all of us, but thankfully most children (not all, but most) don’t experience every sleep regression. If they did, no one would sleep during the first two years!
On the chance that you’re wondering whether your baby or toddler is currently going through a sleep regression, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help clarify:
• Has your previous well-napped baby been refusing naps?
• Did your baby recently learn a new skill (rolling over, sitting up, starting solids, crawling, walking, etc.)?
• Has your baby been hungry more often than “normal”?
• Is your baby close to one of the known ages for a sleep regression?
Contrary to popular belief, sleep regressions don’t just “happen”. They usually occur in sync with a new skill, your baby’s development, or even a growth spurt.
The most common months for sleep regressions are:
4 Month Sleep Regression
Your baby is just realizing that there is a whole world around him. They’re starting to understand that those are THEIR feet, and that mom is a separate person.
8 Month Sleep Regression
The 8 month sleep regression happens somewhere between eight and nine months. Your baby is beginning to develop his gross motor skills, and may have recently started crawling or even pulling up onto the furniture and cruising around your living room. He also is beginning to categorize, and understand that not everything is the same.
9 Month Sleep Regression
The 9 month sleep regression might be a result of new motor tasks, like walking, standing, or cruising. Night waking at this stage can also be a result of your child figuring out how to be independent, while becoming more clingy as he explores “moving away” from you.
One way to ease the 9 month sleep regression is to make sure you let your baby know when you are leaving and returning. You could also schedule some special one-on-one time with plenty of snuggles at the end of the day.
Like everything, all babies are different. From the 8 month sleep regression through the 10 month sleep regression, you could be seeing many of the same milestones and night wakings.
10 Month Sleep Regression
Like the 8 month sleep regression, at 10 months, developmental milestones are often the culprit. During the pre-toddler period, your baby is realizing that there are sequences to the way things are done. He may be fascinated by stacking cups or blocks. Your baby may also start walking, which is another huge developmental milestone.
18 Month Sleep Regression
Your toddler’s language really begins to ramp up around 18 months, and likely, you’ve also dropped from two naps to one. You may have also noticed that your toddler is experimenting with tantrums.
2 Year Sleep Regression
Your toddler now understands that he has a choice in things, and the power struggles begin. He’s also learning about consequences, and cause and effect. Language may also play a major role during this period of development.
Thankfully, sleep regressions don’t last forever.
Sleep Regressions Usually Last Between 2 and 6 Weeks
Please understand that some babies may experience sleep problems for a longer period, but the majority of babies will average out to about 4 weeks of sleep challenges. I get so many questions from parents about when they can start sleep coaching if their baby is currently showing signs of a sleep regression.
While it’s never a good idea to start sleep coaching in the middle of a sleep regression, you can begin to introduce the concept around 3-4 weeks after the onset of your baby’s sleep regression for babies older than 6 months. If you were mid-coaching, then you can pick up where you left off.
In the meantime, do your best to keep your soothing bedtime routine, and provide extra love and support. Understand that this is just as hard on your baby as it is on you.
Be Careful To Avoid Creating a Negative Sleep Pattern
Be careful that you don’t allow a sleep regression to become the new norm. It’s perfectly fine to do what works during a sleep regression. It will likely be the only way that anyone can get any sleep. Just know that most babies are ready to begin sleep coaching after about 4 weeks of sleep struggles brought on by developmental changes. If you find that you’re 5, 7, or even 10 weeks in, take a good hard look at what’s going on.
Has your baby mastered rolling over? Is he cruising around the house like nobody’s business? Has he mastered walking between the sofa and the mom? If he has, then you’re stuck with some poor sleep habits, and should start sleep coaching as soon as possible so that they don’t become all encompassing for your baby’s sleep.
If you have inadvertently created a negative sleep association, don’t despair! You can sleep coach your child and help her to adjust to falling asleep without the newly created sleep crutch.
How to Ease Back Into Sleep Coaching After Experiencing a Sleep Regression
While your child is experiencing a sleep regression, it’s important to make sure that he’s getting enough sleep by encouraging sleep any way you can. Whether that’s in a stroller, car, with you, or in a swing. It’s important to remember that sleep regressions are not a sleep coaching issue, but rather they’re developmental.
If your baby is coming out of a sleep regression, you may notice that…
• your baby is suddenly more receptive to naps;
• nighttime sleep comes easier when just the day before it was a struggle; or
• your baby’s appetite seems to have normalized.
If you notice these cues, sit down and take some time to select a day to start sleep coaching. I suggest that you try to make the beginning of your sleep coaching coincide with a weekend or holiday so that you have at least two days to rest and get used to the new routine.
If you’re just starting sleep coaching, you’ll want to review the 10 steps to take before sleep coaching as well. If you’ve already started, you may want to regress one chair position (so if you were in the hall, move your chair by the door) for the first three nights before moving your chair back to your previous position.
Are you struggling with a sleep regression right now? Join the conversation on The Sleep Lady Facebook Page and have your sleep questions answered by one of my Certified Gentle Sleep Coaches today!
photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography; ericarhiannon via photopin cc