Sleep regression: why can’t my baby sleep well?

When babies go through developmental stages of major changes, their sleep can be affected. We tell you what you should know about sleep regression.

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz on October 17, 2021.

Last update: October 17, 2021

After a few months of little rest, your baby had finally stabilized his sleep schedules. And now, suddenly begins to wake up again at night and have difficulty sleeping. What is happening? You may be experiencing sleep regression.

Before you panic, know that it is a natural and temporary process; you are not doing anything wrong and nothing is wrong with your baby. Find out everything you need to know about sleep regression and its implications.

As you know, the dream of babies is transformed as they grow. The night’s rest becomes longer and more stable, while the daytime naps are reduced. Nevertheless, setbacks may occur in this progression that lead the child to behave as in previous stages.

Generally, These last between two and six weeks before the baby’s sleep rhythm recovers. However, you should know what it is so that you can stay calm.

What is sleep regression?

Sleep regression is part of the baby’s evolutionary process.

Sleep regression is a setback in childhood sleep patterns. That is to say, a baby who already slept several hours at night begins to have nocturnal awakenings and has difficulty resting. It may take longer to fall asleep, refuse to go back to sleep after waking up, and naps may be affected by these changes.

Frequently the infant is irascible and irritable and demands adult attention regardless of the time to be; maybe just to get a hug or because you want to play.

When parents observe this phenomenon, they often wonder what is happening, if their baby has already established a good sleep rhythm and adequate habits. Actually, it is an evolutionary thing.

Why does sleep regression occur?

Sleep regressions can appear at different times in the child’s life, but they are usually linked to stages of important evolutionary advances. When the so-called developmental milestones occur, certain disorders occur that can affect sleep.

Thus, the regressions can take place at four months, eight, eighteen or two years. Although the most striking usually takes place between eight and 10 months of age. If at this time you are facing it with your baby, these are some of the main causes:

Changes in biological rhythm

Sometimes these processes of change are due to the evolution of the biological rhythm of children. Around four months the baby’s sleep begins to resemble that of adults.

A) Yes, they may have a lighter sleep and tend to wake up when passing from one phase to another of the dream. This also happens to adults, but being independent they deal with it easily. When your baby wakes up, he may need help getting back to sleep, especially at the beginning of these changes.

Development milestones

Developmental milestones are those great advances that babies make as they grow. Learning to sit, turn, crawl, walk, or talk are some of the most important.

These acquired skills open up a world of possibilities for children who, becoming more and more independent, they may be eager to continue exploring the environment instead of agreeing to go back to sleep easily.

Higher energy expenditure

Developmental milestones, such as beginning to crawl, can trigger sleep regression.

All these advances mean that the little ones have a greater expenditure of energy during the day and they may feel hungry at night. If this happens, they may wake up irritable and demanding, and have a hard time falling asleep again.

Secondly, reaching bedtime while being excessively tired is counterproductive. If your baby doesn’t get enough sleep each day, it can impair his ability to get adequate rest when it is finally time for bed.



Dentition

Teeth eruption can also influence sleep. The children they usually feel discomfort, pain or throbbing gums a discomfort that interferes with rest.

Separation anxiety

Finally, separation anxiety can make your baby wake up looking for your touch, with the need to ensure your presence, although previously it had not been like that. This can appear after eight months and make the infant wake up anxious and cry demanding comfort.

How to deal with sleep regression?

Sleep regression usually goes away within a few weeks, so be patient and stay calm. Even so, there are a series of recommendations that can facilitate this process for parents and children:

  • Make sure your baby gets enough food during the day. If you think that he wakes up hungry, instead of feeding him when he wakes up, try to increase the amount of food during the day. Adding extra fat during dinner (with foods like avocado) can also be a good thing.
  • For teething, offer you chilled teethers it can be a great relief.
  • Make sure the baby sleeps the necessary hours during the day. In general, at eight months two 90 minute naps are best.
  • Take care of sleep hygiene. Make sure the room has a good temperature, is quiet and dark. However, some children benefit from having a small indirect light that allows them to recognize the familiarity of the room when they wake up.
  • White noise can make it easier for your child to fall asleep and go back to sleep after awakenings.


In short, it is about understanding the evolutionary moment that the infant is going through and facilitating it as much as possible. Each infant has a different temperament and not all will accuse these changes in the same way. However, be patient and remember that it is temporary and natural.

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