Sleep regression refers to a time (usually one to four weeks) when the infant/toddler experiences a sudden change in his/her peaceful sleeping pattern and begins to wake up at night or skip naps. This period can be especially exhausting for new parents who may have recently settled into a peaceful and consistent sleeping schedule with their baby.
The term “regression” may sound scary, but there is no research to prove that the baby’s sleeping pattern is truly regressing. According to nurses and pediatricians, it is standard for babies to experience such temporary changes in their sleeping patterns.
Research suggests that most babies and/or toddlers may experience minor sleep regression during specific seasons.
4-month sleep regression
The 4-month sleep regression happens in nearly all babies. Experienced parents say that the different changes which take place during this time are possibly permanent. When your baby is nearly 4 months old, he/she will likely abandon their old sleeping pattern and try to adopt a more grown-up sleeping schedule instead. What does this mean? You might have to deal with shorter naps and more waking up in the night.
Another significant sleep regression period may be noticed when the baby is 8 months old. At the time, the toddler might be learning new skills and techniques like crawling.
Sleep regressions may also occur at the 12 and 18-month mark. The 12-month sleep regression may be due to a change in nap schedule. Your baby may start refusing to have a second nap, which will make them over tired. As they usually are not ready to transition to one nap a day until they are around 15 months old.
The 18-month sleep regression is probably the hardest, as at this point you have been dealing with sleepless nights on and off for a year and a half. This sleep regression develops as your toddler is trying to assert their independence and are more than happy to be vocal about it. Teething is also a factor, as your little one may be getting their painful molars coming through.
Dealing with sleep regression
As a parent confronted with sleep regression in your baby, you would need to identify their changing needs. It may be time to create a more flexible schedule which is better aligned with your baby’s natural sleep pattern.
A lot of parents tend to believe that since they have managed to nail a way of putting their
baby to sleep, it will always stay the same. But this is hardly true. You may have to figure out a new way of helping your baby get adequate sleep once sleep regression sets in. This is why it is a good idea to keep up a relationship with your sleep consultant, so that they can help you through all of these tough periods.