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Last week my perfect sleeper was suddenly taking over an hour to fall asleep at night! This week…he started walking. And he’s back to going to sleep in a regular amount of time. This got me thinking about baby sleep regressions, which are basically just periods of time when a baby who normally sleeps through the night suddenly begins to have uncharacteristically frequent night wakings, may take a long time to fall asleep at night, wake earlier in the morning, and/or have napping issues. They are learning new skills like rolling over, crawling, talking, and walking, and they are too busy thinking about and practicing these skills to sleep. Your baby may be more fussy or clingy during a regression, which can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

When and why

Although there can be other regressions, the most common ages they occur are around 4 months, 8-10 months, 12 months, and 18 months.

4 months

This is a huge developmental growth period for baby.  Often babies are learning to roll and on top of that their sleep cycles are starting to be more like an adult’s. That can actually mean more frequent night wakings.

8-10 months

This one is usually due to crawling, sitting, or pulling to stand.

12 months

Many babies learn to walk around this age and walking can be the milestone that affects sleep the most! This regression commonly affects naps.

18 months

This regression has a lot to do with your toddler’s new-found independence. She’s learning that she has opinions on things! And she just may not want to sleep!

What to do

Stay calm! This too shall pass. If your baby is experiencing the 4 month regression, it’s okay to do whatever works (and is safe!) for now. Your baby may need extra soothing or “help” falling asleep or staying asleep. Do what will help the whole family sleep for now and focus on breaking habits at 6 months if they are still an issue.

For older babies, now isn’t the time to start changing things up at night or creating new bad habits. Your baby doesn’t need to be rocked to sleep or nursed to sleep because he is starting to wake in the night. Stay consistent so you don’t let this temporary sleep struggle last for weeks, months, or even years!