What is sleep regression?
Is your baby all of a sudden waking up overnight again or more often? Are they having trouble falling back asleep or resisting naps? Have they been extra cranky lately? During several developmental stages, baby’s (and parents') sleep can be disturbed. Sleep regression is the time when your baby's sleep patterns shift. They may wake up often during the night and have a hard time going back to sleep. Sleep regressions can occur at any age but the most common ages in the first year are around; 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, 12 months. Typically sleep regressions can last anywhere from 2-6 weeks. We’ll look at the causes of these sleep issues and what’s going on with the baby during this time.
Note: These are estimated ages where milestones may be met. Not every baby meets developmental milestones at the same time so don’t worry if these are not exact.
What are typical sleep regression ages in the first year?
4 Months: Welcome to parenthood! Just when you think you have a handle on this sleeping thing, time for your first sleep regression. The usual culprits at 4 months old is teething pain and extra hungriness from all the growing they are doing. Also developmentally they are reaching the rolling over milestone so that's pretty exciting for your little one. They are discovering their hands and feet and are curious about moving their bodies. This sleep regression is the start of permanent changes to your baby’s sleep cycle.
6 Months: Around 6 months there is another growth spurt so there will likely be some extra night feedings. Your baby may also be learning to sit and maybe even learning to crawl or rock on all fours so they will want to constantly practice. All this activity leads to hunger. Often babies get their first teeth around 6 months and that can cause pain and trouble sleeping. Their eating habits are also changing as you begin to try new solid foods and they work on their dexterity.
8 to 10 Months: Many babies have mastered crawling by this age and some are also pulling up to standing by 10 months. Your baby is too busy learning to want to sleep. There is a significant amount of brain development at this age with language and self realization. Developmentally they are learning that they are their own person and they may experience some separation anxiety. They may wake and need some assurance that you are nearby.
12 Months: Babies around 12 months are adding many skills to their toolboxes. They are super busy now and absorbing all the world around them. Around the 1 year mark, many babies begin walking. This is a big milestone so they may be too excited to sleep. Separation anxiety may also be an issue during this sleep regression. Their minds are busy also they begin to practice language. For help transitioning into a straw cup at this age and also for dexterity practice, check out The Baby's Brew 2-in-1 Snack Cup!
What can you do when your baby is going through a sleep regression?
- Remember, it is just a phase. It will pass with time!
- Keep to your regular routine. Consistency is key to ensuring your baby knows when it's time to sleep.
- Keep feeding on demand. Active and growing babies need more calories for growth and development. The more active the baby is, the more hungry they will be.
- Try feeding a warm bottle before bed so the baby can relax and sleep with a full tummy. Check out The Baby's Brew Portable Bottle Warmer for an easy way to warm your baby's milk.
- Make sure your baby is getting enough sleep during the day. Making a sleep schedule can help to make sure that your baby is getting enough sleep and you can plan around those sleep times.
- You can try sleep training to help with self soothing.
Q: What is sleep regression?
A: Sleep regression is the time when your baby's sleep patterns shift. They may wake up often during the night and have a hard time going back to sleep.
Q: How many hours of sleep should a baby get?
A: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sleep length can vary by the age of your baby. Newborn to 3 month old babies typically sleep somewhere between 14 and 17 hours in a 24 hour period. Four months to a year old babies tend to sleep between 12 and 16 hours. As they get older, most of the sleep length will be overnight with fewer naps.
Q: When do babies start sleeping through the night?
A: Many babies are able to sleep through the night at around 6 months old. Some babies will take longer to reach this milestone, but the experts suggest that you can begin sleep training around 6 months.
Q: Do babies sleep worse during a growth spurt?
A: Many do! They may be hungrier than normal during a growth spurt so there is a good chance that they may wake up overnight for a feeding. They also may be uncomfortable during a growth spurt so they may have some pain.
Written by: Kristen Bickel
Kristen is a mom of 4 and an employee at The Baby’s Brew.