Sleepy Baby & Co.

Regressions, why they happen and when

It can feel like there’s a lot of regressions and with the term “regression” it doesn’t sound fun! Don’t worry, with knowledge comes power and when you understand why it’s happening and that it’s developmentally normal (a good thing!), it’s a lot easier to get through them.

So let’s start with the big one.. The 4 month regression. Why is it a big one? Because this is a permanent one, it’s when your baby’s sleep matures and their sleep cycles start to become more pronounced. During the day they become 45 minutes and during the night they’re 2 – 4 hourly. So if your baby has started catnapping or waking more overnight this could be the culprit.


As they come to the end of the sleep cycle they will enter a light phase of sleep and this is where they will look to fall back asleep the same way they did at the start. Newborns need lots of hands on help falling asleep so naturally us parents are usually the association they’re looking for to fall back asleep.


You can either keep assisting them back to sleep when they wake between sleep cycles or if you want from 4 months we can start using gentle sleep techniques to help them learn to self settle. This way when they do wake between sleep cycles they can simply rouse and fall back asleep.


The next few regressions aren’t so permanent, they’re more to do with developmental milestones and they will pass within a few weeks. Just stay consistent and don’t start any new habits you’re not wanting to keep doing.


The 9 month regression – this one could be anywhere between 8 – 10 months because there’s a lot of exciting developmental milestones happening in this period. They will start to sit, crawl, be able to pull themselves up on the cot bars and start standing. You’ll find they even want to practice in the middle of the night! Practice as much as you can during the day to help them master this skill.


Separation anxiety can peak around 9 months and bedtime can be a bit of a battle. Spend lots of quality time during the day and they may need a longer, calming wind down routine.


The 3rd nap is being dropped around this age so being overtired can add another factor in. Bringing bedtime forward while they adjust is going to help them not be so overtired and harder to settle into sleep.


The 12 month regression – this one is another developmental one where they are starting to learn to walk and talk and it can have a huge impact on their sleep. It may look like they’re ready to drop to 1 nap and while they may manage to get by on the 1 nap for a few weeks, stay consistent and keep offering the nap and the 2 naps will come back. Most babies are ready to drop to 1 around 15 -18 months.


The 18 month regression – this can be a bit of a messy time with dropping from 2 naps to 1 and the sleep debt is building up to result in overtiredness. They may swap between 1 – 2  naps for a few weeks while they adjust.


The 2 year regression – they can start to get real fomo on just about anything when it’s time for a nap. They also have the stamina to refuse the nap for a few days and it looks like they’re ready to drop the nap. The same as the other regressions just stay consistent and it will pass. They may need a reduced nap but are usually ready to drop the nap altogether around 2.5 – 3 years old. If you need help getting back on track after one of these regressions reach out to us on the contact page and we can help!

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