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Sleep Regression Timeline for Newborns & Toddlers

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You’ve read about the dreaded sleep regressions. You know that sleep will decline when your baby hits these milestones, and I’m sure you’re worried about what to do. Read on to understand the different sleep regressions stages at various ages.


Understanding Sleep Regressions

First, you probably haven’t heard that sleep regressions aren’t sleep regressions at all. There are logical reasons that sleep regressions happen at different ages, and I’ll go through the different reasons below. 

Second, sleep regressions don’t usually happen for already sleep-trained babies. A fully sleep-trained baby knows how to go down for bedtime and naps independently, and they usually sleep right through the various sleep regressions. Why? Because they know how to put themselves to sleep and how to put themselves back to sleep in the middle of the night when they wake up (because all humans wake up several times in the night, even after babies are sleep-trained). 


Newborn Sleep Regressions

3 Months

If your baby used to sleep longer stretches but starts to wake up more at around 3 months, that is the beginning of the 4-month sleep regression. Your baby may suddenly need to contact nap to avoid 30-minute crib or bassinet naps. They may start breaking out of the swaddle, fighting sleep more, or just waking up more overnight. The solution? Sleep training. The 3-4-month sleep regression is your baby’s way of telling you that something isn’t working and they’re ready for change.

6 Months

At this age, your baby is more active than they were as a tiny newborn. They’re starting to roll, crawl, sit up, hold onto toys, and generally are more interested in the world around them. They also may be acutely teething or get their first cold. A sleep regression could come about from any of these things, but if you’re facing any of these situations, your baby may not have been fully sleep-trained yet (because a sleep-trained baby can often sleep through teething and developmental leaps). 

Tummy Sleeping Newborn? How Rolling Affects Sleep

If your baby is learning how to roll, you’re in for a little bit of a ride whether or not your baby has been sleep-trained. Rolling is super disruptive to sleep because your baby isn’t used to waking up or sleeping on their tummies yet. And you may be nervous about letting your baby sleep on their stomach, so you might get into the habit of trying to flip your baby over to their back. Which you will soon learn is futile because they’ll just keep flipping to their tummies (sigh)! The only way through this regression is to let your baby get comfortable sleeping on their tummies (don’t worry – it’s perfectly safe for your baby to tummy sleep if they can get there themselves!). It’s a hard couple of weeks but the more you leave them to settle themselves, the more they’ll be able to find a comfortable position by themselves. 

If your baby is 6+ months old and you haven’t yet sleep-trained your baby, now is the time. They will start acutely teething and hit many more developmental milestones in the months to come. Better to start sleep training before they can pull themselves up to standing in their crib!

9 Months

This sleep regression usually starts at around 8 months old and goes through 9 months. The number one reason why we see a sleep regression between 8 and 9 months is due to teething, but developmental leaps are close at the number two reason.

Teething symptoms can include a runny nose, flushed cheeks, cough, and/or soft or strange-colored poops. Your baby may also seem less interested in eating if they’re not feeling 100%. Teething behaviors can look like your baby acting more clingy and needy, or being less able to play by themselves. Sometimes teething behavior may seem like separation anxiety, which is your baby’s way of telling you that they don’t feel so hot. 

Another reason we see sleep regressions between 8-9 months old is due to developmental changes. Perhaps your baby learned to stand up and is suddenly doing that in the crib. Maybe they’re waking up more in the night because they’re teething and their gums hurt (or they just haven’t been sleep-trained yet?) and then they find themselves standing up in their half-sleep. If so they’re probably crying from either not feeling well – or just being mad that they’re awake when they want to be sleeping!


Toddler Sleep Regressions

Sleep regressions can happen anytime during the toddler years due to teething and developmental leaps, but generally, sleep regressions peak at 12 months and 18 months, so I’ll share a little more about why we see regressions at these ages.  

1 Year (12 Months)

Teeth should be consistently coming through by this age, which can be a bummer for sleep if your baby’s sensitive to teething. A once sleeping through the night baby may wake up crying and inconsolable during the night because they’re getting multiple teeth at once. One-year-olds are also likely to be close to walking if they’re not already doing so. This is such a huge developmental leap it often leads to a sleep regression. Another thing you may see is that your baby who used to take two regular naps starts refusing their afternoon naps. That’s all tied into the developmental leap they’re going through at this stage. 

18 Months

One thing that most parents don’t know is that two-year molars start coming in at around 18 months. Molars have a lot more surface area to cut through on your baby’s gums and I believe that they hurt more than other teeth. You might see that your baby is more clingy and needy, and it might even look like separation anxiety. Although separation anxiety can peak at this age too, consider why your baby’s going through a sleep regression at this age. They might be fighting sleep because they simply don’t want to miss a party, or they could be not feeling 100%. You will know if your toddler is getting molars by observing their behavior during the day and night. If your baby suddenly wakes up in the night and seems inconsolable, consider that they might be in pain and may need Motrin to make it until morning (with your pediatrician’s approval). In addition to molars, language development starts ramping up at around 18 months – even if your baby isn’t speaking many words, they UNDERSTAND a lot of your words. Developmental leaps like these can lead to sleep regressions as well. 


Get help to Sleep Train Your Baby

If your baby is going through a regression and they haven’t yet learned to self-soothe, now is the time to begin sleep training. We can help you teach your little one how to fall asleep without your help and sleep 11+ hours through the night in as little as 3 nights. After we’ve helped you with sleep training, sleep regressions in the future won’t be a thing!


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