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Article: Baby Sleep Regression Ages

Baby sleep regression

Baby Sleep Regression Ages

Have you noticed your little one having more difficulty sleeping lately after weeks/months of sleeping peacefully through the night? You may find yourself anxiously googling what could be causing these sudden changes and lost nights of rest. Fear not, you are not alone. What you may be experiencing is a very normal phase of development called "sleep regression".

All babies go through periods of regression as their minds and bodies develop rapidly. Their sleep cycles adjust to keep up with new abilities and growth spurts. But this can be unsettling for babies and parents alike after settling into routines. In this article, Kaiya Baby will explore the common ages and stages of sleep regression. Our goal is to ease your worries by providing insight into what is triggering your baby's sleep challenges and how you can best support them through this temporary phase.

Blonde baby bed

Definition of sleep regression

Sleep regression is a developmental phase where infants and toddlers experience temporary disruptions to their established sleep patterns. It is characterized by noticeable changes or reversals in signs of sleep such as:

Increased night wakings: The baby may wake up more frequently during the night and have more difficulty returning to sleep than before.

Earlier bedtimes required: Many babies will resist sleep or try to stall bedtimes, making it harder for parents to put them down at their regular scheduled time.

Change in daytime naps: Nap duration and/or frequency may decrease noticeably from the baby's prior nap routine. Some may also resist naps altogether.

Increased anxiety around sleep: Babies may display more distress, crying, calling out or needing parental comforting to fall asleep than usual. They seem anxious, unsettled or unwilling to sleep independently.

The signs are due to developmental leaps that cause temporary neurological, cognitive or physical changes in the baby's growing brain and body. This makes their previous sleep associations and routines temporarily less effective until they stabilize again developmentally. The defining feature is that the signs are short-term disruptions rather than permanent changes to the baby's typical sleep patterns.

Sleep regression age by age

To understand your baby's changing sleep needs, it's important to recognize the common ages and stages of sleep regression. First,let's take a look at the first four months.

4 months

By 4 months, babies undergo important developmental leaps. They are shifting from relying primarily on touch and sight to develop cognitive and problem-solving skills. This places immense pressure on their growing brains. Physically, 4 month olds also start learning to roll over and move their bodies more, as muscles rapidly develop.

It's a huge change for little ones. Disrupted sleep is oft en a result. Most babies at this stage experience more frequent night wakings, sometimes twice or more per night. Daytime naps may also become unsettled or shorter in duration.

As mamas, the best approach is to remain calm and empathetic. Getting extra physical activity through tummy time and carrying can help babies work through feelings of overload. Maintain your usual soothing bedtime routines, like gentle rocking, to help them resettle.

These are common characteristics of the 4 month sleep regression. I hope this provides some context. Please don't hesitate to consult your pediatrician if issues persist. 

8 months

By 8 months, babies have nearly doubled their birth weight and gained many cognitive and motor skills. However, similar to the 4 month leap, these developments come with adjustments.

Around 8 months, infants start crawling or pulling themselves up. This newfound mobility allows them a world of exploration but also comes with risk of injury now that they can reach anything. Understandably, it causes higher levels of stress and anxiety.

Sleep patterns often regress as babies process these changes. Night wakings and restless sleep become more common. Some babies refuse afternoon naps altogether as their daytime waking hours expand.

The good news is, this regression doesn't usually last long. As with previous stages, maintaining love, reassurance and routines is key. Continuing daytime activities and limit overstimulation before bed can also help weary bodies relax into slumber.

Don't be alarmed if nights feel longer during this time. Trust that as with all milestones, your baby will soon adapt to their evolving skills and independence - and regain those treasured stretches of nighttime rest!

12 months

By their first birthday, babies have learned to pull themselves up to stand and take their first unaided steps. This milestone of walking is exhilarating but also physically demanding as theypractice newfound mobility.

Cognitively, crawling babies are now discovering the world as curious toddlers. With so much new input to process, daytime naps often fade as attention spans increase. However, tired little bodies still need quality nighttime sleep.

The 12-month regression can bring disrupted slumber as this dual physical and mental learning storm happens. Babies may struggle to connect sleep cycles and stay asleep through the night. Early morning wakings become common.

A change of scenery like transitioning from crib to toddler bed could further unsettle sleep patterns. Maintaining calm bedtimes and consistent schedule is very important now. Gentle limit-setting helps toddlers understand bedtime expectations.

This phase typically ends within a couple of months as walking and exploring becomes second nature. Be patient as your toddler adjusts to constant development under one roof - their brains and bodies are working overtime!        
18 months

Toddlers reach yet another milestone at 18 months - mastering simple words and beginning two-word sentences. While enormously proud, this new communication skill comes with the territory of strong preferences and opinions emerging.

Curiosity is at an all-time high as they understand more of the world. Combined with newfound independence and mobile abilities, everything must be explored and touched, tried and tested. Calm evenings settle in longer.

The increased mental stimulation and assertiveness tends to disrupt sleep. Early bedtimes face resistance as playtime is demanded. Night waking to nurse, drink or be soothed back to sleep increases.

As frustrating as it may feel, it signifies your toddler's cognitive leaps forward. Maintaining loving discipline, gentle routines and a soothing bedtime environment provides stability during this transition.

It's a phase that helps expand their experiences and development. With patience and reassurance on your part, you'll all return to those treasured nights of uninterrupted sleep before you know it.

24 months

The toddler years are a busy time of rapid learning and change. By their second birthday, little ones have an exponential vocabulary and can follow simple instructions. They also have intensely strong wills and identities.

This newfound sense of self combined with an ability to articulate wants and don'ts brings many joys but also challenges. Bedtimes especially can turn into power struggles as independence shakes off the final bonds of babyhood.

A small baby lies bed

Sleep disruptions often accompany this push for control. Early bedtimes get rejected, and night awakenings grow more frequent out of frustration or just wanting company. Naptime may also get dropped.

To help navigate this, maintain routines with as little negotiation as possible. Validate big feelings but keep boundaries firm yet loving. Ignoring minor wakeups lets them resettle alone.

This too shall pass within a few months once they accept new sleep rules. With perseverance from parents and sheer exhaustion from busy days, sweet slumber will return before long. The terribles will only make you cherish the nights of sleep to come!

What are some ways to prevent sleep regression?

We've explored the typical sleep changes babies and toddlers may experience during regressions at various developmental milestones. While these periods are normal, they can be challenging for both parents and little ones.

So what can caring for their development and sleep habits do to possibly lessen the impact of future regressions? Here are some strategies parents can try.

Manage screen time. Limit TV/devices before bed which can overstimulate developing minds.

Practice relaxation techniques. Gentle massage, soft music or reading eases tension and builds good sleep associations.

Consider sleep training. Once babies are developmentally ready, sleep training builds independent sleep skills to withstand disruptions.

Monitor daytime cues. Ensuring babies get plenty of outdoor time and movement aids good nighttime sleep.

Make bedtime cozy. A dim, quiet space with loving bedtime rituals sets the tone for undisturbed rest.
Follow sleepy cues. Put baby down awake but drowsy to help self-soothe to sleep independently.

Stick to wake windows. Appropriate time spent awake before nap aids better sleep consolidation.

Blackout the bedroom. Use dark curtains to regulate natural sleep-wake cycles.

Keep the routine ritualistic. Maintain consistent order, timing and location of steps like bath, book, bed.

Use white noise. Play familiar sounds to mask disturbances and calm through sound conditioning.

Ocean waves

Age-appropriate bedding. Make the crib safe, simple and comfortable for baby's development.

Limit parental presence. Rest reassurance to crying instead of picking up reduces dependency.

Appropriate bedtime diet. Avoid overfilling tummies close to bed or highly stimulating snacks.

Exercise during the day. Fatigue aids sleep but exercise finishing a few hours before bedtime.

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Yujia Shi

An expert in sleep sack design, is a valued contributor to Kaiya Baby's blog. With a strong background in baby sleep bags and maternal care, she is highly regarded for her professionalism. Yujia Shi prioritizes baby comfort and safety in her designs, using high-quality materials. Her insightful articles on sleep bags have been featured in reputable publications and have gained a significant readership. Trust Yujia Shi to help you create a comfortable and safe sleep environment for your baby, backed by her proven track record in the industry.

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