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Sleep Regression or Progression?

Sleep regression or progression in babies.

The dreadful sleep regressions, a parent’s worse nightmare! Did you have a baby that was finally sleeping 5/6 hours straight, maybe even longer? Then suddenly BOOM, it hits your house so unexpectedly. Now baby wakes up every 30 minutes to an hour, stays awake for ages, is difficult to put to sleep, nervous, always tired, but just won’t sleep? Yes….this is what they call a sleep regression. Regression because the baby was sleeping so well and now went back to the first day as a newborn, but I prefer to call them sleep progression, why? Because it is essential for their development! Let’s see how, but first, let’s see when they happen.

The stages of sleep regression or progression

Every baby will be different so it’s not a set rule as to when it will happen, but it generally happens roughly around these times.

4 months, 6 months, 8 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years.

Why do I call them sleep progressions? Because these unexpected sleep changes happen when your baby learns to do something new or progressive, not when they are going backward.

At 4 months old your baby’s sleep matures, so instead of sleeping like a newborn they enter a phase of a more light and deep cycle. At this time they start to produce their own melatonin, whereas before they were getting it from breastmilk. This phase will last between 2 and 6 weeks, after that, you will see your baby’s sleep will actually improve!

How to help this regression?

Try and keep a consistent bedtime routine that will help baby to know when bedtime is. You can also consider a sound machine that can help babies relax and sleep easier. Try to keep rooms as dark as possible.

At 6 months babies will have another sleep progression because they are learning some huge milestones like physical and emotional development, separation anxiety, environmental awareness, teething, learning to sit up, changes of sleep cycle(again), and preparing to crawl.

Again, keep that bedtime routine, and give Calpol for teething if needed.

At 8 months it all happens again! Waking all the time, fussy, moody……but why? Baby is learning to crawl, sleep cycles change, more teeth coming through, eating more solids than before, and making loads of new noises!

It will usually end in 2 to 6 weeks.

Latter stages of sleep regression or progression

At 12 months sleep progressions might happen because your toddler is probably walking or starting to walk (don’t worry if they aren’t, my little girl didn’t walk properly till 18 months), separation anxiety, teething, adjustment to sleep patterns, nightmares, and social development. 

At age 2 children are going through so much! They are experiencing a leap in their physical abilities, language skills, social abilities, and all of these can lead to more difficult bedtime routines. Continue sticking to a bedtime routine, some nights might take ages for them to sleep even 1 to 2 hours. It’s hard I know, but you will get through it.

Always remember your baby is going through a sleep progression, not regression. They are leaning new things every time they go through them. Just notice once they are over it that you will see they will be doing something new every time. Using the positive word like progression makes it mentally easier to get through. Just remember, it doesn’t last forever!


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