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Understanding Sleep Regression

Nearly every parent has been there. At naptime and bedtime, it’s like the bell has rung and the wrestling match is on. You finally get baby down and start to creep out of the nursery, just for them to stir, fuss and cry again. There’s a name for this. It’s called sleep regression. 

At Mommywise, we’ve made it our mission to help babies learn to sleep and put themselves back to sleep, so parents can get much needed sleep and find their confidence as parents. To understand what we do let’s dive into what sleep regression is, what causes sleep regressions and how to navigate them.

 

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Sleep Regression?
  2. Causes of Sleep Regression
  3. Coping with Sleep Regression
  4. Sleep Training to Avoid Sleep Regressions

 

Baby sleeping in his bed

 

What is Sleep Regression?

The term “sleep regression” is used to describe when your easy-to-fall-asleep baby all of a sudden doesn’t sleep soundly through the night anymore. The newborn (or infant in their first year) may wake up multiple times, fuss more, cry at uncommon times, or even fight bedtime or routine sleep and nap times. Ultimately a sleep regression is your baby’s way of telling you that something isn’t working for them and they need you to make some changes.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Regression

When a sleep regression is starting, you may notice longer stretches of baby’s sleep start to taper off. Within a month or so, your baby is sleeping much less, or maybe not at all, merely surviving on 20-40 minute catnaps. Or worse, you may find yourself contact napping all hours of the day and night!

However, sleep regressions aren’t actually regressions at all. There are quite logical answers for why babies begin to wrestle with sleep at various ages and stages of their development. Typically lasting about four to six weeks, parents generally will notice sleep regressions at 4-months and 9-months, and 1 year, although for various reasons, babies can regress at any time as they’re growing, developing, learning new things, and testing boundaries —  even for a few short days. 

 

Notice the Nap Schedule

It is important to remember how much energy babies are expending just by growing! And every growing body needs rest. Wondering if your baby is getting enough sleep to support their development? Check out our nap duration and frequency chart to know how many naps a baby at any age should get and how long they should be napping. If your baby is routinely on the lower side of nap time, it could be a sign you’ve entered a sleep regression phase.

Still, as a parent, it can be frustrating (and exhausting!) when you and your baby aren’t getting the sleep you need. Don’t worry! More about how we can help you do that in a minute, but for now, let’s talk about what causes sleep regressions in infants.

 

Causes and Triggers of Sleep Regression for Infants

There are several reasons — primarily healthy, developmental ones — that trigger sleep regressions naturally for newborns and growing infants. Here are a few:

  • Becoming more alert and aware of the world around them
  • Feeling new sensations that impact their body, like outgrowing the swaddle
  • Developing fine and gross motor skills
  • Noticing when you leave the room or when their pacifier falls out
  • Learning to roll, crawl or pull themselves to standing
  • Teething or illness
  • Physical or cognitive developmental leaps
  • Learning to play 
  • Developing ownership

 

Whatever the trigger that’s caused your baby to wake up during the night or not want to sleep soundly, understanding the timeline of sleep regression from birth through the toddler years can help you prepare and navigate down turns successfully.

In the meantime, how do you cope with your baby’s lack of sleep?

 

Navigating and Coping During Sleep Regressions

So you find yourself in the middle of a sleep regression. Both you and your baby are probably getting little (if any) quality sleep. Plus, it’s highly likely that unbalanced contact napping is in full swing as it’s become your go-to coping mechanism. However, with a few simple steps, you can better navigate a sleep regression and help your baby establish better sleeping patterns and habits.

Here’s what that looks like:

  1. Create a consistent bedtime routine
  2. Implement calming sleepy time rituals
  3. Manage daytime naps, rescheduling them to coincide with baby’s adjusted needs
  4. Seek support — from family, friends, or a professional
  5. Take nighttime shifts so you and your partner can get a few winks!

 

The best thing you can do to avoid the pains of sleep regressions is to sleep train your baby. There are lots of methods and “experts” sharing advice about babies and sleep. What to do, what not to do, how to do it and when to do it. But what we’ve learned at Mommywise that works the best is learning to understand your baby’s cues while we help you teach your baby how to sleep independently. 

 

What Sleep Training Means for Sleep Regressions

Good news, moms and dads! Sleep regressions don’t usually happen for babies who’ve already been sleep trained. A fully sleep-trained baby knows how to go down for bedtime and naps independently. Plus, they usually sleep right through the various sleep regressions. Why? Because they know how to put themselves to sleep, and how they know how to put themselves back to sleep in the middle of the night whenever they wake up.

 

What is Sleep Training?

In a nutshell, sleep training helps your baby sleep well. The added benefit? YOU sleep well! 

Now if you’re just hearing about sleep training for the first time, you probably have a ton of questions, such as:

  • When is the best time to start sleep training?
  • Is sleep training during a sleep regression still effective?
  • What’s the best approach? 
  • Can I do this on my own? Or can someone help me?

 

Whether you’re just hearing about sleep training, or have been giving it your best on your own at home, Mommywise can help you understand all the ins and outs, tailoring your sleep training approach to best suit your baby.

 

The Difference Mommywise Makes in Sleep Regressions with Sleep Training

At Mommywise, we personally understand how chronic sleep deprivation has a significant negative impact on parental mental health, relationships, immune systems, and careers. (Just read Natalie’s story.) And for babies, broken sleep impacts their brain and physical development, plus overall health and happiness. That’s why our founder, Natalie Nevares, pioneered in-home sleep training services. And now, over 12 years later, Mommywise has helped nearly 3,500 parents and babies recover countless hoikokmurs of restful sleep!

You and your baby don’t have to wrestle at every bedtime or naptime. We can help you teach your baby to sleep in just three to four days! In the meantime, download our free e-book: Top 10 Sleep Training Myths, Tips, and Secrets. Then contact us so you can get your baby sleeping through the night and find your confidence as a parent!

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Natalie Nevares

As Mommywise Founder, my mission is to help families grow and thrive, provide sustainable income for women and mothers, raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders, and make treatment more accessible. As a mentor and parent, my mission is to role-model a strong woman, parent, and leader who endeavors to leave a legacy of positive change through service and humility.

Picture of Natalie Nevares

Natalie Nevares

As Mommywise Founder, my mission is to help families grow and thrive, provide sustainable income for women and mothers, raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders, and make treatment more accessible. As a mentor and parent, my mission is to role-model a strong woman, parent, and leader who endeavors to leave a legacy of positive change through service and humility.

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