Tag Archives: 9 month sleep regression

Sleep Regressions: Everything You Need To Know

Sleep Regressions


Sleep regression. It’s a phrase you probably didn’t know existed before you had a baby, but now? Now that your baby is waking every 20 minutes, and you are exhausted beyond all reason? Now that your toddler is waging a fierce anti-nap campaign?

Yeah – it’s a phrase you’re probably familiar with!

Sleep Regressions: What They Are

A sleep regression describes a period of time (anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps (or waking early from naps) for no apparent reason. Parents often describe being caught totally off guard: you think your have conquered all your little one’s sleep challenges, when suddenly, out of nowhere, you’re back to constant night wakings and nonexistent naps.

Frustrating, to say the least!!

Sleep Regressions: When (And Why) They Happen

Remember, every baby is different, so what is true for your friends’ babies may not necessarily be true for yours. That is, your baby or toddler may show true regression signs at some of these month markers, but not others.

That said, there are some seasons during which most babies or toddler so through at least a mild sleep regression:

4 Month Sleep Regression

This one’s permanent, folks! That is to say that the changes that happen with the 4 month sleep regression are permanent changes. By 4 months, your baby has ditched her babyish sleeping patterns and is sleeping more like an adult – and that translates into frequent night waking (and lots of fussing) along with shortened naps.
Find 4 month sleep regression help HERE and HERE.

8 Month Sleep Regression (sometimes 9 Month Sleep Regression, or even 10 Month Sleep Regression)

This one is all thanks to the developmental milestones that are happening around 8 months, 9 months, and 10 months. At this stage, most babies are making great strides physically – learning to crawl, to pull up, to cruise, etc. There’s also a lot of brain development happening at this stage. Your baby is absorbing language like crazy! Finally, most babies are cutting at least a few teeth during this season. Add it all up, and you get more night waking, shorter (or even skipped) naps, and one cranky baby on your hands.
Find 8, 9, 10 months sleep regression help HERE.

11 Month Sleep Regression (or 12 Month Sleep Regression)

This one doesn’t seem to affect as many of our clients as the other regressions do – maybe it’s a less common one? At any rate, this regression has a lot to do with naps – specifically, you might find that your baby suddenly starts refusing his or her second nap, and tries to get by with just one nap. Lots of parents assume that this is a normal nap transition, and that it means their little one is ready for just one nap a day. However, we urge parents to treat this one as a regression instead, since most toddlers really aren’t ready to transition to just one nap a day until about 15 months.
Find 11 month or 12 month sleep regression help HERE.

18 Month Sleep Regression

Oh, parents – this one is a doozie. Why? Because now your baby is a toddler – a walking, talking (well, babbling at least), tantrum-throwing toddler. This regression has a lot to do with your toddler’s new-found independence. She’s learning that – guess what – she has opinions and things! And – even better – she can express those opinions by shouting “NO!” at top volume! Separation anxiety also comes into play here; your toddler may genuinely be distressed when you leave at nap time, or when you walk out of the room at bedtime. Finally, teething is still a factor at 18 months – toddlers are often cutting molars (those big, painful teeth!) around this time.
Find 18 month sleep regression help HERE.

2 Year Sleep Regression

To be honest, the 2 year sleep regression is a little less straightforward than the others. That’s because there are a variety of factors that can cause it. For one thing, your 2 year old’s awake time is growing longer, but as he makes that transition, it can disrupt sleep. Your 2 year old is likely also going through some big life transitions, like potty training and transitioning to a big-kid bed (and maybe even getting a new sibling!) And around 2 years of age, lots of toddlers begin having very real nightmares (or even night terrors). All of this can lead to a very real, very exhausting sleep regression around 2 years old.
Find 2 year sleep regression help HERE.

Sleep Regressions: How To Move Past Them

You know the what, the why, and the when behind common baby and toddler sleep regression – now how about the ‘how to’? As in, “How the heck do I fix this and get back to my peaceful nights of sleep again?!?!”

Well, for starters, remember that the 4 month sleep regression is a permanent change – there is no going back to the way things were. Once you are through the worst of the 4 month sleep regression you will want to focus on helping your baby break her sleep associations, and on heaping her learn to fall asleep without help from you. Once she can do that, she will be well on her way to sleeping through the night, and establishing a more predictable daytime schedule.

As for the other sleep regressions, here are a few tips to help you cope WITHOUT undoing all the sleep coaching progress you’ve made up to this point:

  • Don’t be afraid to offer extra feedings. Growth spurts can be a component of sleep regressions, so don’t worry about offering an extra nighttime feeding (or even daytime feeding) here and there. Remember – this is temporary! You will eventually return to your normal schedule.
  • Offer comfort as needed, but avoid making new (or reinstating old) bad habits. You will definitely need to offer your baby or toddler plenty of extra kisses and cuddles during the sleep regression, and this is okay! But avoid creating new sleep associations – avoid rocking your baby to sleep regularly, or nursing her to sleep. Avoid reinstating old bad habits, too – if you have weaned your toddler off the pacifier, for example, don’t revert to offering the pacifier during a sleep regression.
  • Solicit help, and lean hard on your partner. Sleep regressions last for awhile (up to 4-6 weeks, in some cases!) And if you are doing your due diligence, and trying to cope while not creating new sleep associations, you are bound to get tired. This is the time to ask for help from anyone who will offer it! Have friends or family members help you (either with your little one, or with the household management).
  • Offer an earlier bedtime if necessary. Sleep regressions can lead to missed sleep, which can lead to overtiredness, which can quickly spiral into more missed sleep. Yikes! So to ward off exhaustion, offer an earlier bedtime if necessary.

Sleep Regressions: When To Sleep Train (or Sleep Coach)

A last word – be careful to chalk all sleep issues up to sleep regression. While it’s true that these sleep regression stages will last for a few weeks at a time, and there is really nothing to do but wait them out, sleep challenges that are chronic and that have been around for months (or even years!) may need to be solved with sleep training. You can sleep train on your own (and we have resources to hep with that!) But sleep training can be an overwhelming task.

That’s why we created The Baby Sleep Site®, and it’s why we are here to help! If you want personalized help for your baby’s sleep, from a trained sleep consultant, browse our list of consultation packages and and choose the one that looks best for your unique situation.
Click here to learn how you can connect one-on-one with a sleep consultant.
Or, if you’d like to know more about how our system of personalized baby sleep help works, Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Want even more resources to help you survive a sleep regression? We have plenty!

bss_ebook_freeguide_leftWant FREE sleep help that you can put to use right away? Download a copy of our free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night, or, for toddlers, Toddler Sleep Secrets. We even have one especially for naps, called 7 Common Nap Mistakes! Each guide is available to download instantly, which means you can start using the techniques in them as early as tonight. So download now, and learn why your baby or toddler is struggling with sleep – and what you can do about it.

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bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep, or (for toddlers) The 5 Step System to Better Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, these e-Books helps you and your baby or toddler sleep through the night.

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Can’t decide which product or service is right for you? Visit our Getting Started Page for help.

How are you managing your little one’s sleep regressions? Share your tips and questions below!

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Is Your Baby Going Through a Sleep Regression, a Phase, or Is It a Habit?

A great client of mine sent me this idea for an article about how to know whether your baby is going through a sleep regression or a phase. This is the same client who is a strong advocate of Attachment Parenting who contacted me over a year ago about her then 10 month old. She is now expecting a new baby, which is very exciting! This article will consider whether your baby is going through a sleep regression, a phase, or whether your baby or toddler simply has a bad habit.

One primary benefit I have over other parents is YOUR experience. What I mean by that is that, sure, I have my own personal experience with my son who inspired this website, but now that I’ve helped countless parents and approaching my 10,000th e-mail (you can see the counter on the homepage here, which is almost real-time and updates ever so often), I see patterns that most parents don’t have the luxury of seeing. I am very analytical, so I connect things that others may not, since my mind looks for patterns, even when I don’t mean to. I benefit from your experience and know the potential pitfalls to look out for, not only from my own experience, but from all of yours, too. It’s actually very interesting to put it all together!

My experience (or maybe I should say OUR experience) tells me that MANY people will have sleep troubles around the same time:

  • 4 months old – This is probably one of the biggest trouble spots for many new parents (though only some will consider it a sleep problem until 6 months, waiting for baby to “get over it”). The way your baby sleeps fundamentally changes and it never changes back!
  • 8 months old – This one is another big one, but doesn’t always happen in the eighth month. This can be around 8, 9, or 10 months and usually related to a lot of development going on with your baby. This usually gets better a few weeks later, though it’s easy to develop new long-term habits trying to deal with it.
  • 11 months old – I hear about this one enough to know I wasn’t alone, but not enough to say it’s a “big” problem for all families. Around 11 months old, I have found that some babies will start fighting one or both naps and then it will pass 2-3 weeks later.
  • 18 months old – I have not written an article about this one (yet), but this is a common age to hear from parents about their toddler’s sleep, usually related to napping, night waking, and testing limits or questions about discipline.
  • 2 years old – Around this age, I find many parents writing to me about bedtime getting later, which is common at this age, especially in the summer.

These are all very common trouble spots and, as I always say, the biggest “danger” with these times is to make new long-term habits such that something that would have been temporary becomes a long-term sleep problem for you and your baby.

Are there other challenging times? You bet! I would say the first two years (sometimes three) are difficult, regardless, but around 7 months, your baby begins developing separation anxiety, then there is teething, of course, and other issues like that come up here and there. Some will simply be more sensitive to all the changes than others.

So, how do you know if you are seeing a sleep regression or a phase?

First, I should explain that a “sleep regression” has been a term that people have used to say “Sleep really messes up at this time, but don’t worry it will go back to normal.” But, a “regression” implies that something will go back to how it once was and, in that regard, I would say only the “8 month sleep regression” fits the definition. 18 months is a close second, but if you aren’t careful, that strong independence-seeking stage can bleed into 2 and 3 years old and that’s a heckuva long “regression!” At 4 months, your baby changes how he sleeps and while some will then begin to sleep better without you changing anything, he will never sleep the same. At 8 months, this is generally a “blip” due to rapid development and the simple inability to sleep with so much going on in their minds. As long as you don’t inadvertently make some new long-term habits, your baby most likely will get past this in 3 to 6 weeks and go back to how he was sleeping before. If it was bad before, though, that may not be very desirable!

Every other “blip” in your baby’s sleep, I would call a “phase”. Anytime your baby or toddler is working on a new developmental milestone (whether you can “see” it or not), it may affect his sleep. This is going to be quite a lot of “phases” in the first few years. They learn a LOT in a short amount of time! Just to name a few, they learn names of objects, how to roll, crawl, pull up, stand up, sign language and/or hand gestures, walk, talk, object permanence, eat, cause and effect, and so on and there are likely lots of “little” things we don’t even realize. Some of the things we’ve taken for granted that we know we have to teach our kids. All of that can make some babies feel unsettled, insecure, happy, tired, over-tired, excited, over-stimulated or all of the above! No wonder they can’t sleep, sometimes!

When is it a sleep habit?

There is no black and white as far as when you have a sleep regression, phase, or a habit, but my general rule of thumb is 2-3 weeks. If you have an abrupt sleep change, try to give your baby 1-3 weeks to see if something reveals itself. It could be a new tooth or a new “trick” or even an illness a few days later. There is no reason to feel alarmed that something has changed until it has “stuck” and then that’s when I tend to tell people to take action.

If your baby wasn’t sleeping well before and then starts to sleep worse, that would be another reason to start working on sleep. Sleep may not become perfect until the sleep regression is over, for example, but it could be a whole lot better if your baby WAS waking 3 times per night and is now waking 6-8 times per night, which is excessive even for a sleep regression.

In the end, you know your baby best and, although you may be a new mom or on your third baby and forgot everything from your younger one(s), your instincts will guide you more than you think. As soon as you start to feel resentment or that you can barely function or, worse, your baby can barely function, it’s likely time to do something about it. Although it may be your fault your baby won’t sleep doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Only some will eventually grow out of their sleep problems. I work with parents of toddlers all the time still waiting for their baby to grow out of the same sleep problems they had at 4 months old!

If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

How do you decide if your baby is going through a phase or has a sleep habit?

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