Sleep Regression Ages [Signs, Stages and Tips]

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Are you finding that your once-happy and rested baby is now waking up multiple times per night? If so, your child may be experiencing sleep regression. Sleep regression is a normal occurrence during certain stages of development but can be difficult for both parents and children alike. In this article, we will discuss sleep regression ages, reasons for it, its signs, and how to help your child get back to sleep!

What Is Sleep Regression?

Sleep regression is a phenomenon that happens only to toddlers and children. Have you noticed any changes in your child’s sleep schedule? For instance, a baby, who usually regularly slept during nap time, refuses to go to sleep when experiencing sleep regressions. The ages of sleep regression start from 4 weeks and they can occur from time to time, until the baby reaches 24 months. Also, you might notice that they’ve become crankier and fussier. This phenomenon usually involves a child who has been sleeping well, suddenly having difficulty falling or staying asleep.

DID YOU KNOW: By providing your kid with one of the best crib mattresses out there you can significantly reduce sleep regression. 

When and Why Do Sleep Regressions Happen?

Sleep regression can be caused by a myriad of things. The most common cause for sleep regression is your kid hitting developmental milestones, social development, or physical changes. Below are the most common causes:

Developmental Milestones

These can include:

  • Sitting

Babies love it when they learn a new skill. Before you know it they’ll learn how to sit up. How can this affect their sleep, you might ask? Well, infants will try out their new skills whenever they get the chance, and instead of sleeping, you might find them having a blast in their crib trying to sit up.

  • Walking

The same thing goes for walking. You can find your kid walking around the house all day trying to get better at the newly acquired skill, and he might even refuse to sleep so he can continue walking.

  • Speaking

Starting to speak can be another cause for sleep regression. It is usually classified as typical 1-year sleep regression. When kids learn how to speak, they’ll go on and on asking questions about everything. After all, they were silent for several months.

Other Changes

Other things that can affect your child’s sleeping habits are:

  • Teething

Teething often causes sleep regression in young children. Teething babies may have difficulty falling asleep, wake up more often during the night, or refuse to nap.

  • Sickness

Sickness is one of the most common reasons for sleep regression. When a child is sick, they often have trouble sleeping because they are uncomfortable. They may also need to wake up during the night to drink fluids or take medication, which upsets their circadian rhythms.

  • Nightmares

Most children go through various sleep regression stages. Infants have a very vivid imagination which may result in them not being able to sleep. Constant night terrors could be one of the many reasons causing sleep regression.

  • Disrupted Sleep Schedule

The most common cause for sleep regression is actually disrupted sleeping habits. Infants thrive on consistency, and if you change their schedule too abruptly, a sleep regression is likely to be the result.

  • Environmental or Social Changes

Toddlers’ sleep patterns can also be disrupted by changes in their surroundings and activities. Moving to another place or going to kindergarten is stress by itself, and it can also cause sleep regression.

Sleep Regression Ages and Signs

Sleep regression can be very predictable if you already know about the phenomenon. Below are the most frequent sleep regression stages:

  • 4-Weeks

A 4-week cutie can be hard work when sleep regression hits. Infants at this age show signs of disrupted sleep patterns; they fall asleep harder and cry constantly.

  • 3-4 Months

Another common sleep regression happens at 4 months. Every kid experiences it. The abrupt change in their sleep can be the culprit for sleep regression. During this stage, babies may have trouble falling asleep and they might wake up very often during the night. Once they wake up, increased crying and increased fussiness are to be expected as well.

  • 6 Months

Baby sleep regression ages don’t often include 6 months, but it can still happen to your kid. During this period kids might wake up every hour or so at night. It will also be harder to put them to bed once they awaken. Another symptom of a 6-month sleep regression is that your kid will love sleeping during the daytime, but will have a problem falling asleep at night.

  • 8-10 Months

During this stage, babies’ cognitive and physical abilities increase. Many infants might experience teething which can cause sleep deprivation. Agitation, fussiness, and constant crying will be more frequent than before. Additionally, infants at this stage will turn day to night and night today.

  • 12 Months

The 12-month sleep regression is the most common regression period. This sleep regression occurs when babies are transitioning from one nap a day to no naps. They may also start resisting sleep and become more active during the day. At this age, babies are learning the language and experiencing social development. Many infants will already say a few words at this age. Brain development and learning to express themselves through express language can be immensely hard for infants. All the changes in your child’s life can cause your 12-month-old to experience sleep regression.

  • 24 Months

Just when you thought you’d said goodbye to your kid’s sleep regression, your 24-month or 2-year-old might suddenly refuse to sleep through the night or even experience night wakings and start sleepwalking. During this stage, you can buy and install a baby monitor so you can keep a constant eye on your child while giving them their privacy. This stage is the last one on the sleep regression timeline.

Key Takeaways

Sleep regression is a phenomenon that only affects toddlers and infants.
Signs that your baby is experiencing sleep regression include increased fussiness and crying.
Many parents start to notice a sleep regression as early as 4 weeks.
Sleep regressions can happen time and time again but are usually short-lived.

How to Make Them Pass Smoothly

Sleep regressions can be difficult for both parents and children. But with a little patience and understanding, you can help your child get through it. Here are a few tips to soothe the common sleep regressions:

  • Set a Sleep Schedule and Stick to It

Consistency is key, especially when dealing with sleep regression. Even the slightest change in their sleep routine may disrupt your kids’ whole sleep schedule and even cause sleep regression to last longer.

  • Keep the Child Active During the Daytime

Avoid letting your child sleep in late or take long naps during the day. This can confuse their body clock and make it harder for them to fall asleep at night. So, if let’s say, an 11-month-old is suddenly refusing sleep, make sure they get enough time to burn off their energy during the day, but well before bedtime.

  • Limit Screen Time Before Bed

It’s also a good idea to limit screen time before bed. The light from the screens can cause the body to stay awake longer. Try turning off all the screens at least an hour before bedtime.

  • Create a Good Sleep Environment

Establish calming bedtime routines that will help your child relax and fall asleep peacefully. A good idea might be to read your kids their favorite bedtime story. Singing them lullabies may also do the trick. Another option is to give them a special blanket that will help your kids to learn to relax before going to sleep.

When Do Sleep Regressions End?

What every parent wants to know is when sleep regressions will end. Even though it might seem like a never-ending situation, believe us when we say that they are very short-lived. Their duration greatly depends on whether you do something to alleviate them. A 1-year-old not sleeping may start worrying you, but they typically stop doing that within a few weeks.

If your baby is still having difficulty sleeping after a few weeks, be sure to speak with your pediatrician for additional help.

Do not be discouraged if sleep regression reoccurs. It happens to many children. Just be patient and follow the same steps to help them get through it as before.

DID YOU KNOW: Separation anxiety is a great contributor to sleep regressions, especially for 18-month-olds. The father and mother need to learn how to deal with them, slowly helping the child learn how to self-soothe and sleep without his/her parents. 

Conclusion

Sleep regression can be a difficult time for everyone. There are ways to help though, so don’t despair! Start by understanding what sleep regression is, when are sleep regressions frequent, why they happen, and what signs to look out for. You can work together with your baby to get through this sleep challenge. And hopefully, before you know it, everyone will be sleeping through the night again!

FAQ

Is there a 12-month sleep regression?

Yes. While sleep regressions can happen at many points, 12-month sleep regression is pretty common.

When do sleep regressions happen most often?

The typical sleep regression ages are: four months, eight months, and 12 months old. However, every baby is different and it will largely depend on your little one’s unique sleep patterns.

Do almost 2-year-olds go through sleep regressions?

While it’s more usual for sleep regressions to occur when a baby hasn’t even turned a year, 2-year-olds can still go through sleep regressions. Keep in mind that a 2-year-old sleep regression lasts shorter than the others.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I've loved writing since I can remember, and back in high school, I started loving psychology as well. So I majored in it while dabbling in spirituality and yoga on the side.

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