How to Handle the Different Stages of Sleep Regression
Sleep regression can be a tricky stage to handle (especially since you aren’t getting much rest!) Let us help you with our guide to helping baby back to sleep.
Congratulations new parent! You have finally made it through the newborn stage of diapers and sleepless nights and have graduated from no sleep to minimal sleep! Your little one is now on a regular nap and sleep schedule so you can start getting your rest too right?
Now that you have gotten your feet wet, your baby is ready to throw you for a whole new loop in the sleep department-sleep regression.
For those who are too sleep deprived to recognize this term, sleep deprivation is a term used when a baby has been sleeping perfectly well and then suddenly stops.They may begin waking at night or skipping naps.
This little wrench thrown in the sleep department can last between one and four weeks. For first time parents this change in sleep schedule can be frustrating to say the least. But why does it happen?
Why do Babies Have Sleep Regression?
First of all, no two babies are alike and therefore your little one may not experience all of these sleep regression milestones, or they may experience them at different times. For example, the four month sleep regression may happen at three months or at five months.
The reasons for sleep regression vary, but they all come down to your baby’s development. As their bodies are growing and developing, it can and often will affect your little one’s sleep. The more information you arm yourself with, the better equipped you may be to help your little one settle back into their good sleep patterns.
How Can a Lack of Sleep Affect my Parenting?
Those with young babies often share the same struggle: a lack of sleep. This common complaint amongst parents of young children can affect much more than just your sunny outlook in the morning.
In fact, according to Psychology Today, sleep deprivation slows down your mental processing, makes you react sooner to negative stimuli and can even make it harder for you to smile.
So while you may strive to be a peaceful parent, your lack of sleep is working against your efforts. The good news is, by understanding sleep regression you can start helping your baby to come through the different stages faster and with less tears (yours and your baby’s!)
The Four Month Sleep Regression
This is arguably one of the most important stages of sleep regression to get just right. The reason for this is that this is a stage that will likely begin somewhere around the four month mark, but can last a lifetime!
The reason is because this sleep regression marks the end of your baby’s newborn sleep and the beginning of learning how to sleep like an adult. This is why your ‘good sleeper’ may suddenly become a ‘bad sleeper’.
Newborn Sleep Patterns
When newborns sleep they cycle between deep sleep and active sleep. When they cycle between deep sleep and active sleep they often startle, which is why many parents find swaddling an effective method to keep baby asleep.
Four Month Sleep Regression Patterns
As your baby begins to transition to a more adult pattern of sleeping they will stop entering deep sleep right away and instead enter a light sleep. Your baby’s sleep cycle will last from about 45-50 minutes. Once they begin entering a light sleep, they may briefly wake up. Because they have not yet learned to self-soothe they will in turn wake you up.
While waking up each hour may seem like every parent’s nightmare, there is help available. Check out our four month sleep regression guide for help getting your baby back to sleep.
Eight Month Sleep Regression
Your baby is growing fast! They may be learning to crawl or cruise and are beginning to develop language skills. With such busy days, you may soon find yourself with busy nights as well. To top it all off your little one may soon be cutting teeth or adding to their pearly set so they may be in pain and cranky as well.
While it may be called the eight month sleep regression, this change in sleep, just like your baby’s milestones, will vary. So if you find this happening a month or two earlier or later, it is still likely being caused by all the same culprits.
How Long will it Last?
The good news is that unlike the four month sleep regression, the eight month sleep regression will not be a permanent change in the way your baby sleeps. The bad news is, it tends to drag on for a bit. While many experience this disruption in sleep for about four weeks, it can last anywhere from three to six weeks (sorry mom and dad!)
New Sleep Patterns
During this time your baby may be ready to drop their third nap (if they were having one). Their busy days of learning to crawl, scoot, cruise and interpret language may be causing them to practice these new skills at night. Their little minds may also be active as well with all the new information they are learning. Think of the way you feel before a big meeting or event. They are not able to wind their minds down enough to let themselves rest.
While this can be a challenging time when may parents lose confidence in getting their little ones to sleep, it doesn’t have to be. Check out our complete guide to the eight month sleep regression here to learn everything you need to know to get your little one back to sleep sooner.
11 Month Sleep Regression
Just when you think you have finally got your little one back in a good sleep pattern-bam-another sleep regression. Well, no one ever says parenting is easy right?
The great news is that this regression is less common so it affects fewer families. In fact, this regression is often confusing so let us explain.
A Rare Regression
Many parents notice around this time that their little ones may be refusing to go down for their second nap. This can lead parents to believe that their baby is ready to transition to a single longer nap during the day.
In fact, most babies are not ready for this change until 15 months. If you treat this as a regression, your baby can continue to have two naps until they may be more ready to transition after their first birthday.
18 Month Sleep Regression
Parents, you may be in for your most challenging sleep regression yet. Not only is your little one running around your house a mile a minute during the day, they have also discovered their favourite word, ‘no!’
At this stage your toddler may be experiencing separation anxiety when you leave at them to go to sleep. Just to add to the fun, they are also likely cutting in their molars.
There are ways to help your toddler during this time where they are just beginning to wield their independence. Check out our guide to the 18 month sleep deprivation here.
Two Year Sleep Regression
There are a variety of reasons (including some big life changes!) that can cause a sleep regression in a two-year old. While they may be experiencing some big life changes, such as getting a sibling, they are also likely to be spending more time awake, which can affect their sleep.
This is also the time for some big milestones. Your toddler may be potty training or even getting ready to move to a big kid bed. While the move to a big kid bed can be scary (for parents especially!) It can be made easier knowing your little one is safe in their new bed.
Comfy Bumpy makes the perfect bed rail for your toddler. Not only does it easily work with any bed type, but it also comes in two lengths so even the craziest sleeper will be safe and sound.
Check out our complete guide to transitioning from a crib here.
Your child may also be experiencing their first nightmares or even night terrors. For everything you need to know about night terrors check out our guide here.
Getting Through the Sleep Regression
While losing sleep is never easy, it is important to reach out for help when you need it. If you have a partner, don’t be afraid to tag team sleep so you both are able to be at your best. If you are a single parent, you may need to reach out for extra support to friends and family. Even one night of solid sleep could make the difference for both you and your baby.
Make sure to check out our guide to the two year sleep regression here.
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