Sleep regression is one of those terms which you only get to know once you are a parent yourself. In simple words, sleep regression refers to a period of time when a toddler or a baby starts taking short naps, skipping naps, or all of a sudden starts waking up at night. For many parents, it can be a rather alarming situation as they do not know why sleep regressions happen and what they can do about it.
Sleep regressions can occur at different ages, starting from 6 weeks up to 2 years of age (sometimes even more.) On average, a period of sleep regression can last anywhere from 3 weeks up to 6 weeks. However, the biggest challenge of sleep regressions is that it often catches parents off guard. From trying to get the child to sleep, to waking up in the middle of the night, from the sound of a crying baby; it can be a challenging time for both parents and even the child.
Sleep Regressions: Why do they happen, and what can you Do About it?
As mentioned earlier, sleep regression refers to a period of time when a baby/toddler starts to exhibit different sleep patterns, such as reduced nap times to even skipping naps all of a sudden. Today, we will look at why sleep regressions happen and, as a parent, what you can do about it.
Sleep Regressions – Why do they happen?
Sleep regressions can be frustrating for the parents, but it is more frustrating not knowing why this is happening. The first instinct of any parent is that something may be wrong with the child, and they may even end up contacting the doctor. Before you go into full panic mode, let’s look at the sleep regressions at different ages and what can be the reasons behind them:
A child who is 6 weeks old may start to —all of a sudden— experience sleep regressions. This is more common among children who were less alert from birth. A major reason for these sleep regressions around the 6-week age is due to the growth spurt and the peak fussiness in a child.
As the child approaches the 4 month period, they start to ditch their old sleeping patterns and transition towards adult-like sleeping patterns. When such a major change happens all of a sudden, it is only normal for the parents to get frustrated and even worried. Once again, this is perfectly normal, and there is nothing to worry about if you experience these sleep regressions around the 4 month period.
One particular habit that appears around this age is the frequent night waking and shortened naps.
According to sleep consultants and experts, there is no such thing as 6-month sleep regression. So if your child does experience sleep problems around 6 months of age, then it can probably be due to the growth spurt, but it will not be classified as a sleep regression.
8 – 10 Months
A lot of developmental milestones happen when a child is around 8-10 months of age. Sleep regressions around this age can be attributed to these developmental milestones as the child starts to make great strides suddenly, such as crawling, pulling up, and so on.
At 8-10 months of age, your child is learning and doing a lot, not to mention that many babies also cut a few teeth during this period as well. All of these things can lead to night waking, skipped naps, or shorter naps. As a result, it can lead to a cranky baby and frustrated parents, but it is perfectly normal.
Since all the babies are unique and different, some of them may experience sleep regression around the 8 months of age while others will experience sleep problems around the 9th month or the 10th month. Then, there are some who exhibit sleep regressions during all of these months.
11 – 12 Months
The 11-12 month sleep regression is not that common, but it does affect quite a few children. The major sign of sleep regression around 11 -12 months of age is related to reduced normal naps. For example, if your child was taking two naps before, they may start to refuse the second naps.
Parents should treat the 11-month sleep regression as temporary, and once this period has passed, they must encourage the child to start taking their second nap. A child is only able to move towards one nap a day when they are 15-18 months of age.
The sleep regression around this period can happen during the 11-month, 12-month, or both.
As the child approaches 15 months of age, they may have already learned to walk or are learning to walk. As a result of this walking, it is only natural to accept some sleep disruptions. Another reason for these sleep regressions around 15 months of age can be due to the fact that your child is moving towards one nap.
18-month sleep regression can be more challenging for the parents as the child is now a toddler who can walk, talk, and is full of energy. The reason for sleep regressions around 18 months of age is due to the new found independence of your toddler as they learn they can have their own opinions!
Some of the other reasons which can contribute to this include separation anxiety and teething.
There can be multiple reasons for sleep regression in your 2-years old such as growing awake time, new development milestones, and nightmares. Yes, many kids start to experience real nightmares around this age group which can also be a major reason for disturbed sleep patterns.
What can you do about Sleep Regressions
By now, you would understand that sleep regressions around the different age groups are perfectly normal in babies, toddlers, and kids. And in the majority of the cases, it is not a cause of concern. However, there are many things you can do to make it easy for both the child as well as you (parent):
One of the major reasons for sleep regressions is the growth spurts… So it only makes sense to offer extra feeding to the child (night-time or even daytime). The only reason for the extra feeding is to help your child easily transition to new sleep habits and is thus temporary.
In the majority of the cases, the child will revert back to its normal sleep schedule on its own!
You can also offer comfort to the child, but you need to tread carefully here – You must avoid making any bad habits or even reinstating the old ones. For example, you can give a child some extra cuddles or kisses to help them go back to sleep. But nursing the child or rocking the baby to sleep is not a good habit and must be avoided.
Sleep regressions can cause missed sleep which ultimately leads to overtiredness in the child. The easiest way to counter is to get the child to sleep earlier than their normal schedule. This will help the child to get the missed sleep while also elevating their mood and happiness.
SPARKLES! Early Learning Academy Helps You Deal With Sleep Regressions
If you and your child are going through a sleep regression stage, do not hesitate to contact our team of experts, and we will share our insights at no cost. Here at SPARKLES! ELA, we help our children and their families to overcome those sleep obstacles that might be altering your child’s routine right now.