Understanding sleep regressions. Why do they happen?

Understanding sleep regressions. Why do they happen?

Understanding Sleep Regressions: When They Happen, Why They Occur, and Strategies for Managing Them Effectively!

You've probably heard of the dreaded 4-month regression – it sneaks up on you out of nowhere! Just when you're bragging about your baby's solid 10-12 hours of sleep, bam! They start waking up every couple of hours, and daytime naps turn into catnaps.


Good news is with these mature sleep cycles that bubs has now developed we can now work towards a consistent settling and sleep routine… bad news is, it’s not the last of the pesky regressions!!There's not just one regression to deal with – there's a whole bunch of them! There's the 8/10 month, 12 month, 18 month & 2 year old regressions. Seriously, does it ever end?!


So, let's chat about these regressions by age:


8/10 months:


This one usually hits when you're ditching that third nap around 8 months. You think your kiddo can handle staying up till their usual bedtime, but nope! They end up overtired and cranky. Plus, they're all hyped up about those new milestones like crawling and pulling themselves up, even if it's in the wee hours of the morning!


So, what can you do to get through this?


  • Stick to a consistent wind-down routine for naps and bedtime.
  • Be patient if your little one resists naps – they'll come around.
  • Adjust that last nap cap if it’s still lingering. Could be a low as 10-15mins in its last days and even every 2nd-3rd day.
  • Teach them to self-settle – it's a game-changer.
  • Let them practice their new skills during the day so they're not doing it at 3 AM.
  • And don't forget an early bedtime – it works wonders!


12 months:


This regression is like a perfect storm of milestones – standing, babbling, you name it. They're learning and growing so fast that it messes with their sleep. And some parents jump the gun on switching to one nap too early, leading to nap battles and early wake-ups.


Here's how to handle it:


  • Stick to the nap schedule as close to normal, even if your baby puts up a fight. Maybe pushing the awake window slightly between naps to help build the sleep pressure.
  • Keep that morning nap short – 30 minutes tops.
  • Practice those skills during the day, so they're not trying to do it at bedtime.
  • Try not to lean into any new preferences, sticking with your usual settling technique as best you can.


18 months:


Now it's time to tackle the one-nap transition. But beware, it's a bumpy ride! One day they'll refuse their lunchtime nap, and the next day they're zonked out before noon. It's a wild ride!


Here's what to do:


  • Over the morning nap as an “opportunity” to nap. Try to keep it before 10am though.
  • You might even switch between one and two naps for a while.
  • Don't rush into the one-nap territory too soon.
  • And whatever you do, don't drop that lunchtime nap too early.
  • If the lunch nap wasn’t ideal – early bedtime is still the MVP!


2 Years Old:


Last and certainly not least, just when you think you have seen the back of those sleep regressions our feisty toddlers throw us a curve ball. Again, we do tend to see this hit when developmental changes are high and biological sleep needs are shifting.


Here's what to do:


  • Give your toddler limited choices pre-bed to help soften the blow that it is bedtime – example. let them select out of two options what they will wear to bed.
  • Watch the nap isn’t taking away too much of their sleep drive come bedtime – dropping down to 90mins – 60mins – 30mins before it goes.
  • Avoid dropping the nap too early
  • Hold those sleep time boundaries. Our toddlers were born to test the boundaries, showing them consistently that this is what sleep time looks like will ease the push back.
  • Avoid the transition out of the cot too soon, especially when sleep is a little wobbly.


So, there you have it – regressions are a rollercoaster, but they'll pass. Just hang in there and stay consistent. And if you need extra help, check out our one on one consults & sleep guides on the website!

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