Sleep Regressions: A Survival Guide. How to spot them, what they are and what to do about them.

 Many parents that I talk to live in constant fear of the dreaded sleep regression, but it doesn't have to be that way! Understanding what a sleep regression is and how to deal with them can help them seem less like a huge mountain of a problem to more like a little blip!

A sleep regression describes a period of time when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well, suddenly starts having disrupted sleep. This either looks like they start having extra wakings at night, taking short naps, skipping naps or early mornings. Even though none of those sound fun, I like to call them sleep PROgressions and here's why:

4-month progression:
By 4 months, your baby has ditched their immature sleeping patterns and is sleeping more like an adult. As a baby their sleep comprised of 2 cycles and now they go through 4, the two new cycles being lighter sleep! That may translate into frequent night waking along with shortened naps and difficulties falling asleep.

4-6-month progression: babies are often becoming much more aware of their environment and learning things such as how to push themselves up to look around, how to use their hands and how to roll.

8-10-month progression:
This age is all thanks to the developmental milestones. Most babies are learning to crawl, pull up etc. There’s also a lot of brain development happening at this stage. Your baby is absorbing everything!

12-month progression:
This seems to be a less common one. This regression has a lot to do with naps and your baby may suddenly starts refusing their second nap. The first stages of learning to speak play a big role here too.

18-month progression:
This age has a lot to do with your toddler’s new-found independence. They are learning that they have opinions and can also express those opinions by shouting “NO!” at top volume.

2-year progression:
This age they are going through some big life transitions like potty training, experiencing nightmares, maybe even transitioning to a big-kid bed or getting a new sibling. That’s a lot of change for young children and it can definitely affect their sense of security, self, and their sleep.


Now, what can you do??

  • Focus on keeping a solid routine, it may not help a lot during the regression but it can REALLY help keep things on track for once they're through the progression. 
  • Practice, practice, practice! If you know what the skill it is that your little one is working on, practice it between each wake window to help your little one learn the skill. The sooner they master it, the sooner it stops affecting sleep!! This of course works for all progressions except the 4 month one- it's a biological progression so there's nothing you can do. 
  • Your babe may be hungrier while going through a milestone, that's a lot of energy spent on growing- so let them eat
  • They may also be more tired so watch for sleepy cues, they may need to go down for naps and bedtime a bit earlier than normal. Only about 15 minutes should be good though!


If sleep progressions still scare you, here's a few things that might make you feel better: 

 1. Littles don't typically experience all of the sleep progressions so don't look at this and think that there's never a time that they WON'T be in a sleep progression

2. Independent sleepers are typically bothered less by sleep progressions.

If you struggle with getting your child to sleep independently, and want some help, reach out here to chat about how I can help you gain confidence and help your whole family feel rested!!


Sweet dreams,



Your Sleep Coach

Helping you make memories, not meltdowns.



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