Everything you need to know about sleep regression


What is sleep regression?

A period of two to four weeks during which a baby who was previously sleeping well has difficulty falling asleep or wakes up fussing in the middle of the night is known as sleep regression.

Sleep regression ages and causes

Remember that each infant is unique, and what works for one baby may not work for another. Your baby or toddler may display actual regression indicators at some of these month markers but not others.

That stated, most babies and toddlers go through a sleep regression   period that impacts their sleep around the following ages:

4 months 

The 4 month sleep regression results in irreversible alterations. When your baby reaches the age of four months, she/he has outgrown her/his newborn sleeping habits and has begun to behave more like an adult, which results in more frequent night walking (often with much fussing) and shorter naps.

8 months 

All of the developmental milestones that take place around 8 months, 9 months, and 10 months account for the 8-month sleep regression. When a baby reaches this developmental milestone, the majority of them have already made significant physical progress. During this time, the baby’s brain is also growing rapidly. Your infant is soaking up words like a sponge!

At the end of the season, most newborns have at least a few teeth erupting. It all adds up to more night waking, shorter (or even missing) naps, and a fussy baby.

9 Months

As previously stated, the regression at 9 months is really a continuation of the one at 8 months. The sleep regression may not begin for some newborns until they are 9 months old. If your baby’s sleep was fine at 8 months old but not at 9 months old, there is nothing wrong with your child.

Indicators of sleep regression

Depending on what’s causing your baby’s sleep issues, the indicators of sleep regression may be different. If you see any of these symptoms, your infant may be going through a sleep regression.

  • Frequent night waking
  • Difficult in sleeping
  • Increased irritability 
  • Sudden reluctance to take a nap

How to deal with your baby’s sleep regression

In most cases, sleep regression can be treated with time. Here are some suggestions for dealing with a baby’s sleep regression:

  • Keep an eye out for signs of overtiredness in your baby, such as rubbing her/his eyes or fussiness, and get her/him to bed before they are too exhausted to fall and stay asleep.
  • Maintain a consistent bedtime ritual, such as dinner, a bath, a book, lullabies, and reassuring words.
  • Overtired newborns are more likely to have trouble sleeping at night, so make sure your baby gets adequate rest throughout the day.
  • You should wait a few minutes before responding to your crying infant in the middle of the night, as they may be able to self-soothe back to sleep. If they don’t, discreetly enter the room, stroke them on the head or stomach, give a calming word, and then quietly depart. Make sure you don’t give your baby the attention they crave by rocking, snuggling or feeding them frequently. In the event that they continue to sob, you can speak a few encouraging words to them from the doorway and then leave the room.
  • For babies older than 4 to 6 months, you might want to consider sleep training as an option. Check back in two weeks to see if it has any effect.
  • Your baby’s sleep can be improved if you give them additional attention during the day and especially before bedtime if they are experiencing stress or separation anxiety.

Sleep regression: When to go to the doctor

Even while sleep regression is likely to cease on its own after some time, you should never hesitate to consult your doctor if you have any concerns or questions regarding your baby’s sleep or the potential source of sleep issues. (like persistent nightmares).

Your doctor may be able to offer insight or recommendations on how to assist your baby sleep better even after you’ve used a sleep training strategy for at least two weeks and aren’t sure why.

A fever, bloody nasal discharge, swollen glands, or an earache indicate that your baby is sick and that you should take them to the pediatrician right away. If your baby is older than six months, call your doctor if any of these symptoms are present.

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About Author

Anisha Sodhi is a General Physician with a Bachelors Degree in Medicine and Surgery (MBBS). Her main takeaway from the degree was how important communication is as people tend to get easily overwhelmed and confused while visiting doctors. Joining Team Nurturey gave her the chance to do exactly that because nobody requires as much reassurance and support as parents to be or parents.

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