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Before any of us became parents, I doubt we could have imagined that there would be 2 simple words that would leave us frozen in fear.

And the words are…


If you’re here, you’ve probably navigated the sleep journey with your child pretty well, and your little one has started sleeping so well.

Then, as soon as your child started “sleeping through the night”, something seems to have changed! Just like that your super sleeper doesn’t sleep longer than a 30-minute stretch out of sudden regardless of what you do.

And this my friend, is a sleep regression.

So, what exactly is sleep regression?

As you may have noticed, your child, since the day they were born, are constantly growing and developing amazing new skills that seem to pop up overnight. Now with all these exciting changes on the developmental front, these changes affect your little one in many different ways. One such way is through sleep regression.

Your child’s brain is like a sponge, constantly absorbing new information and it doesn’t just work while they are awake. In fact, most of what babies learn happens during periods of sleep. With all the new information your child’s brain has absorbed, this often leads to a change in your child’s sleep patterns.

Because of the change in sleep patterns, you’ll often find your child finding it difficult to sleep and also they may be more frustrated and their behaviour may not be as predictable as it was.

But luckily, as with most things baby-related, this too shall pass and before you know it, you both would have navigated the sleep regression.

Now that you know what sleep regression is, there are a few reasons for them and this you’ll probably have noticed.

These changes include:

  • Physical milestones such as mastering the art of rolling over, teething, crawling or walking
  • Cognitive development such as acquiring new language or social skills
  • Environment changes such as moving into a new home, an addition to the family such as a pet or sibling or travel
  • Unnecessary parental intervention

So, when do these sleep regressions pop up?

The most common sleep regressions are the one’s caused through your child achieving a developmental milestone. A point to remember though is that all children are different, so they may not always experience sleep regression like some of their peers.

Here is a breakdown of the of the average ages for sleep regressions to hit:

4-month regression:

This is probably the most talked about regression and the one that has new parents completely confused. This regression is caused in most part by your new baby developing their own circadian rhythm which also comes with your child being able to produce melatonin. Your baby is now able to slowly drift off to sleep as opposed to just falling asleep like a newborn. In addition, your baby may also have mastered the art of rolling over and may even be getting their first tooth.

6-month regression

This regression occurs alongside milestones including teething, crawling as well as a change of diet as baby has started solid foods

8-month regression

Your child is now at the stage where they have possibly started crawling (though not all children crawl), they may be able to pull themselves up and move along furniture. It is also the starting of the separation anxiety.  In addition, your 8-month-old may have dropped a nap and your baby is a sponge for new words.

12-month regression

This regression may be accompanied by major milestones such as talking, walking and even more complex social and emotional development.

18-month regression

At this age your child may have developed a different opinion on bedtime and will often try and “negotiate” or outright refuse to go to bed. Your child may even try to escape their crib etc.

24 and 36-month regression

These ones are the regression that many parents don’t expect and is usually as a result of major changes in your toddler’s life such as preschool or mastering skills such as independence.

What is Unnecessary Parental Intervention?

Apart from the usual development milestones that contribute to sleep regressions, often the unnecessary involvement of a parent in the bedtime routine during a regression may prolong the period of sleep regression.

You may have the urge to rock your baby back to sleep as you did in the past just to have everyone get the sleep they need. Although it may help in the moment, it will definitely not support your cause in the long run. Once you make your child used to having you there to get them to sleep, they will need you to be there beyond the sleep regression.

I know it is hard but remain constant and remember the effort you invested to get your child to sleep well in the first place.

So, how can you best support your child through a regression?

Here are a few tips to help your child without throwing away all the hard work you’ve put in to get your child sleeping well:

Know the difference between needs and wants

Be sure to address your baby’s issues that may be preventing him from sleeping like a dirty diaper or hunger. But don’t confuse their needs with them wanting you to be close or be rocked to sleep. Your child may fuss when they don’t get what they want, but this will help them learn the important skills of self-soothing.

Put in place age-appropriate consequences

Children will push our buttons to get what they want. By pushing these boundaries, they learn what they can get away with. One example is your baby may realise that throwing their pacifier from the crib, you will, like clockwork, come back in to pick it up. To prevent this, you may remove the pacifier for a set period of time to teach your child that bedtime is no time for playing games etc.

Remain patient

Remember, as I said earlier, this too shall pass. And as difficult as it may be at the moment, you need to remain patient and know that the regression will not last forever. Understand that your little one has so much going on and they rely on you to keep them grounded so patience makes your job a whole lot easier.

Attend to any teething issues

If your child is teething, be sure to address any discomfort they may have. Often a bit of teething gel is all your child needs to shift past the discomfort of a new tooth emerging. You can also chill your child’s teethers which helps cool those swollen gums.

Be aware of age-appropriate wake windows

As your child grows, their sleep needs change. Learn what the ideal wake windows are for your child’s age so that they get the correct amount of sleep, and you prevent an issue of an overtired child.

Stay the course and be consistent

When it comes to sleep, consistency is key! Be sure to not revert to past bad sleep behaviours like rocking to sleep. Keep your schedule and ensure your bedtime routine encourages sleep. Also try to have your child be active and get some healthy sunshine which regulates their hormones that supports sleep. At night, be sure to turn down the lights and keep the sleep area as dark as possible to stimulate the sleep hormone. Even if you and your baby are a bit cranky, remain consistent.

Consider other issues

If you feel that your child has more going on than just a sleep regression, try to identify the issue. Maybe your child is feeling stressed or anxious about school? Maybe a new arrival in the family has got your child feeling confused? Maybe your child’s routine has had to change because of a work commitment? Is your child maybe dealing with a medical issue? If you feel you’ve answered yes to any of these, you may be dealing with something greater than just a sleep regression and you may need to find additional support such as your paediatrician.

I hope that this blog has helped you in some way. And if you’re looking at more hands-on support to help you navigate this sleep hurdle, I’d love to support you and your child. You can book a free sleep evaluation call by clicking the button below: