Parent’s Guide to Tackling Sleep Regression in Babies

Parents dealing with sleep regression in baby

It’s certainly frustrating when your baby, who has recently been a great sleeper, suddenly starts exhibiting sleep problems. If this is happening to you, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with sleep regression.

Luckily, these periods of sleep regression in babies are completely natural and nothing to worry about. However, as they happen intermittently throughout baby development, it’s important to know what’s happening and what you should do to support your baby.

What Is A Sleep Regression?

Sleep regressions in babies typically take place when your child is undergoing a developmental leap, such as a growth spurt or period of cognitive development. Infants learn a great deal of new skills in a short space of time, such as increased movement and language abilities. These are known to impact sleep.

In some cases, the increased energy they use during the day will affect their sleep needs at night, or they may have a busy mind from all the new experiences they’ve had — influencing their ability to settle down and sleep soundly at night.


Sleep regressions in babies typically take place when your child is undergoing a developmental leap, such as a growth spurt or period of cognitive development.

When Do Sleep Regressions in Babies Happen?

Crying baby suffering from sleep regression

Generally, babies may experience sleep regressions from around 3-4 months. However, as infants are constantly developing, there may be many instances of their sleep being affected during their first 2 years.

Common ages for babies to go through a sleep regression include 8-10 months, 12 months, 18 months and 24 months. Yet, some regressions are more infamous and receive the most attention from parents, such as the 4 month regression.

Fortunately, it’s uncommon that your child will have a full regression for each and every one of these developmental stages. And it’s true that different children will experience them in different ways, so you may be lucky enough that your little one isn’t affected too seriously at all!

How Long Does A Sleep Regression Last?

Sleep regressions can last anywhere from two to four weeks, and not every baby will have a sleep regression at the same time. Hopefully, after this period, your baby’s sleep patterns return to normal as quickly as they changed. But to support this, parents should keep up with standard routines and nighttime rituals to instill the necessary consistency their babies need to become strong sleepers.

Identifying a Sleep Regression

Crying baby going through sleep regression

It’s sometimes hard to distinguish between a sleep regression and lack of sleep caused by something else, such as sickness. However, below are a few telltale signs.

1. Sleep Disturbance Is Sudden and Unexplained

If suddenly your baby is no longer sleeping due to increased night-waking and poor napping, this could be a sign they’re going through a sleep regression.

2. Fussiness / Crankiness

When babies suffer from lack of sleep combined with the fact their bodies or brains are working extra hard because they’re going through a developmental milestone, it’s likely that they’ll be fussy, cranky and short-tempered. If your baby is normally calm and relaxed before and during sleep, you could be witnessing a sleep regression.

3. Looks for Soothing and Comfort More

All babies look for soothing and comfort, but if your child is doing this more than usual, it may be because they need additional reassurance during a developmental stage. This may present as a clinginess that disappears after the sleep regression is over.

4. Increased Hunger

Growth spurts and baby development naturally makes babies hungrier than usual. When their body’s are working extra hard or they’re tiring themselves out during the day practicing their new skills, like crawling or learning to communicate with adults, this will increase their need for food.

Don’t worry about offering an extra nighttime feeding (or even daytime feeding) here and there. Just remember that you must eventually return to your normal schedule!


If suddenly your baby is no longer sleeping due to increased night-waking and poor napping, this could be a sign they’re going through a sleep regression.

 How to Tackle A Sleep Regression

Mother successfully handling sleep regression in baby

To an extent, parents must ride out sleep regressions and wait until they are over before they enjoy consistent and sound sleep from their babies again. However, there are a few things you can do to help tackle sleep regressions.

1. Identify A Sleep Regression Early

Understanding when a sleep regression is taking place is really useful as you can put all your energy into supporting your child in the ways they need rather than giving them remedies and solutions that are ineffective.

2. Soothe Your Baby

Often, babies are just looking for some added comfort and soothing when they go through regression. They may be suffering from lack of sleep and require added attention during the day. Giving your child this can make all the difference.


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3. Stick to Routines

If you have a calming bedtime routine, stick to it — even when your child looks like they’re going through a sleep regression and isn’t influenced by the strategies and tactics they used to be. Continuing with these efforts will make it much easier for them to revert back to being good sleepers without disruption.


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4. Avoid Unhealthy Sleeping Aids

Don’t introduce unhealthy sleep crutches or aids because your child is having trouble sleeping. It’s important to remember that this is just a growth spurt for your baby and they will once again go back to being good sleepers.

There’s no need to revert back to methods you used to use when your baby was younger and less independent, such as feeding or rocking them to sleep and staying by their cribs 24/7. If your child gets used to these things again, it could set them back. Plenty of extra kisses and cuddles are fine, just avoid creating new sleep associations.

5. Dress Your Baby in Comfy Clothes

Babies need comfy sleeping gear if they’re to have the best chance of sleeping well at night. If your little one is too old for the swaddle, you can consider swaddle transition alternatives that will help give them a similar kind of cosy restriction.

We recommend the Zipadee-Zip for those who are finding that their little one is no longer comfortable in a swaddle. This is a perfect transition for babies that will allow their baby’s body to keep developing healthily but also give them some added comfort.

6. Adjust Bedtimes

As long as you do this with caution, it can be helpful to adjust bedtimes to be earlier so you are giving your baby more time to recover from overtiredness.

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Zipadee-Zip Collection

Final Tips

Distressed baby suffering from sleep regression

Finally, below are some tips that might help you during one of your baby’s sleep regressions.

  • Try to be patient as all sleep regression will end eventually
  • If extra help is available to you from your partner or family, don’t be afraid to lean on them more during these difficult periods
  • Leverage various soothing and calming techniques before bedtime to help your baby wind down
  • Always make sure you follow safe baby sleep practices, such as putting them on their backs to sleep – even if they show signs of sleeping better on their sides or front
  • Be careful not to create a new sleep crutch such as nursing or rocking your child to sleep!

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