Baby Sleep Regressions: Ages and Everything You Need To Know to Handle Them

Sleep RegressionsBaby sleep regressions occur at many ages usually around 6 weeks, 4 months, 8 to 9 months, 15 months, 18 months, and 2 years old. It’s a phrase you probably didn’t know existed before you had a baby, but now? Now that your baby is waking frequently, and you are exhausted beyond all reason? Now that your toddler is waging a fierce anti-nap campaign? Yeah – “sleep regression” is a phrase you’re probably familiar with!

Sleep Regressions: What They Are

A sleep regression describes a period of time (~3 to 6 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, taking short naps and/or skipping naps for no apparent reason. Parents often describe being caught totally off guard. You think you have conquered all your baby’s sleep challenges, when suddenly, out of nowhere, you’re back to constant night wakings and nonexistent naps.

Frustrating, to say the least!!

Sleep Regression Ages: 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 ages during which most babies or toddlers go through a regression that affects their sleep:

6 Week Sleep Regression? Or, Growth Spurt?

6-week olds seem to really start to wake up if they weren’t alert from birth. If your 6-week old baby is suddenly struggling with sleeping, you might be exhausted. Babies this age actually have a peak of fussiness and a growth spurt.

Learn more about your 6-week old here:

4 Month Sleep Regression

This one’s permanent, parents! 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. That translates into frequent night waking (and lots of fussing) along with shortened naps.

Find 4 month sleep regression help here:

6 Month Sleep Regression? Or, a Growth Spurt?

In my 15+ years of experience as a sleep consultant and working with thousands of families over the years, there isn’t a 6-month sleep regression. Some 6-month-olds do have sleep problems around this age, but there isn’t a 3 to 6-week period with chronic sleep problems like the other regressions listed on this page. Sleep regressions happen at many ages but not this one.

Learn what’s really happening at 6-months old here:

8 Month Sleep Regression

The 8 month sleep regression 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. They’re learning to crawl, pull up, 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.

9 Month Sleep Regression

The 9 month regression is really just a continuation of the one at 8 months. However, some babies don’t start this sleep regression until they turn 9 months old. There is nothing wrong with your baby if sleep was fine at 8 months old but not at 9 months old.

10 Month Sleep Regression

Just like the 9-month sleep regression, the 10-month sleep regression is really just the culmination of the regression at 8 or 9 months, depending on when your baby started this phase. The entire sleep regression lasts 3 to 6 weeks, on average, and some days/weeks will simply be better than others. The main difference with 10-month-olds is that many of them can stand up in their beds, which can complicate matters.

Find 8, 9, and 10 month sleep regression help here:

11 Month Sleep Regression

The 11-month nap regression doesn’t seem to affect as many of our clients as the other regressions do. It seems to be 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 their 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 the temporary speedbump it most likely is instead. Most toddlers really aren’t ready to transition to just one nap a day until about 15-18 months old, on average.

12 Month Regression

The 12 month sleep regression is really the same as the 11 month regression. If your toddler starts this one in the 12th month, it’s possible they will actually transition to just one nap early. Still, it’s better to be prudent and treat it as a phase for a few weeks to make sure.

Find 11 month or 12 month sleep regression help here:

15 Month Sleep Problems

At 15 months old, your child may be learning to walk and that could cause some disruption in sleep. But, generally speaking, if your 15-month old suddenly starts having some trouble sleeping, most likely, they are starting to transition to one nap. This is a very common age to start waking at night due to two naps being too much sleep. Or perhaps your toddler stopped taking a second nap and is over-tired at bedtime. At this age, there isn’t a 3 to 6-week period of sleep problems that suddenly go away. Most of the sleep problems around this age are related to a schedule problem.

Learn more about transitioning to one nap 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 newfound 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 Problems

To be honest, sleep problems at 2 years old are 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. 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!) There are many milestones at 2 years old.

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 help with the 2 year regression here:

How To Handle Regressions Effectively

You know the what, the why, and the when behind the 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 that regression you will want to focus on helping your baby break her sleep associations, and on helping 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 you’ll also be 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 regressions that affect sleep, 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 a sleep regression. 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. These regressions last for a while (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. (Have them help with your little one or help with household management.)
  • Offer an earlier bedtime if necessary. These 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.

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30 thoughts on “Baby Sleep Regressions: Ages and Everything You Need To Know to Handle Them”

  1. Help – Our 26 month has never slept through the night. We’ve had a bedtime routine since 4 weeks old. At 5 months we did a 5 night residential stay sleep program with mother craft nurses and got rid of sleep associations e.g. dummy. At 6.5 months we did CIO which got us from 15 waking to 5. At 9 months we had a private sleep consultant come stay with us overnight for a while. She said she couldn’t keep taking our money As nothing more to offer us. She suggested medical assessment. Medical assessment said nothing wrong.
    We were doing well for 6 months, 2 wakings per night but only for 15 mins. Since the regression hit we are back to being up for 3-4 hours per night with inconsolable crying between 11-5. Two neighbours are complaining. Nothing we do can comfort her. Naps are 1-2 hours and always finish by 3. Bedtime between 7:30-8
    How long will this last?
    Do you have anything to offer that’s not routine / association based? We’ve had that assessed by a multitude of experts who agree we are ‘consistent’ with routine and no sleep associations to break.
    At my wits end and all the standard advice doesn’t seem to work.

    • Hi @Louise –
      Thank you for writing to us! I’m So sorry to hear that your family has been struggling with sleep for so long! You all must be exhausted. You’re not alone! We have helped many families that have not had success with other programs and/or sleep consultants, and we’ve been able to help them find their sleep. We’d love to help!
      We have a very holistic view and approach to helping families with their sleep. It’s all about the whole child and figuring out the right mix of everything for that individual child. Our approach is not only holistic, but also often involves breaking goals into pieces. We find that parents are most successful that way because they can slowly start to see progress and have more confidence in both themselves and their child.
      We are different than most sleep consultants in that we personalize advice for each individual family based on their history, goals, baby’s personality, and family philosophies. We do not make blanket statements either. We know that all families are truly unique and therefore will have unique needs and require a unique plan.
      I’d like to offer you a free 15 minute telephone evaluation with an expert sleep consultant, which I think will be really helpful for you. Ou can share all of your concerns with her, and she can give you great insight regarding if and how we can help, and which of our options may be the best fit for you.
      If interested, please schedule your free 15 minute evaluation here:
      15-Minute Sleep Evaluation
      Thank you again for writing to us Louise, and hang in there! If you have any additional questions, or if you need any assistance at all, please let us know. We’re here to help!

  2. My 15 month old started doing split nights when I thought he was ready for 1 nap. I don’t think he was and now I’m trying to re-establish his 2 nap routine but his wakings are getting worse and worse, it’s been 5 weeks of 1-3 night wakings sometimes 2 hours long. I just don’t know where to start on how to get his sleeping back to normal and I’m so exhausted and his nighttime sleep is causing insane anxiety

    • Hi Sydni – Thanks for writing and sorry that your 15 month old is struggling with so many night wakings! That is so tough! Hopefully adding the 2nd nap back to the schedule/routine will help! Give it time to smooth out once the nap is back. I’d recommend checking out this sample schedule too, to be sure that he’s getting the right amount of sleep at the right times:
      Good luck Sydni and hang in there!

  3. Just went through a horrible sleep regression starting at about 11.5 months and has slowly gotten better since she turned 13 months. We have also moved her into our bed with us which seemed to have helped with her not waking every hour at night. We also moved her down to one nap a day only. She is just not tired to take a second nap. I know 13 months they say is a little early but she seems ready and fine with only one nap. She is not overtired by bedtime. This girl has tons of energy and could care less about her naps. She is sleeping from 9pm – 8:30/9am. Her one nap is anywhere from 1hour to 1 hour and a half.

    • Hi Jillian,
      Thank you for your comment here! I’m sorry to hear that your daughter’s last sleep regression was so awful, but I’m glad you’ve found a way to get her sleeping that works for your family. All children are different, and I know a lot of the families here reading the comments are always glad to see what worked for other folks, so thank you very much for sharing your experience with us!

  4. I have twin girls who are almost 14 months old. They have slept very well for months now but in the last few days they are taking longer to settle at night. They are waking up later in the morning, I’m thinking as a result of them taking longer to get to sleep, & wonder of this is knocking off their schedule? They are still taking two naps but could they already be ready to drop to one nap, could this be a delayed sleep regression or could it most likely be teething?! I’m not sure what to do!

    • @Claire – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us! Toddlers this age do generally increase their abilities to stay awake for longer periods of time, which may be what you’re seeing. If you haven’t tweaked their schedules to account for this, that may be a good place to start. We do find that many babies drop down to one nap around 15-18 months, which is just around the corner. This transition can happen very quickly or linger and take months before it’s fully “done.” Hang in there and let us know if you need any further support!

  5. My son is 8 months old, he used to nap an hour to 2 a day now he only naps maybe 30-45 minutes, just one nap. Goes to bed at 8, fights it forever when hes asleep he will wake up anywhere from 3-4 times a night and stay up. He is a very grumpy baby! I’m guessing 8 month sleep regression!

    • Hi @Chey – Thanks for writing! Yes! It sounds about right for this 8, 9, or 10 month sleep regression! it sounds like you’ve done you’re reading, so hang in there and I hope it passes quickly!

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