The Mystery of Sleep Regressions

posted by Cate Mckee No Comments


Life is fantastic. Your baby sleeps 12 hours straight at night, naps well during the day and you are the envy of every other parent on the playground. And then one day, seemly overnight, your child stops sleeping. You’ve racked your brain trying to figure out what happened, but are at a complete loss. Sound familiar?

It is not uncommon for children to have a sleep regression at some point during the first 18 months of life. It can be maddening. The biggest question is “Why is this happening?” The number one reason for unexplained sleep regressions is developmental milestones.

The 4 Month Regression
This regression happens right around the 16 week mark. Babies who have previously been sleeping well at night, suddenly wake every hour or two. At this age, babies go through a major cognitive burst which comes on the heels of things like rolling over, an enhanced sense of depth perception, switching an object from one hand to another and having a sense of cause and effect.

The 8-10 Month Regression
At this age, babies tend to master pulling up, the pincher grasp and crawling.

The 12 Month Regression
Twelve months is the average age when children take their first steps. This sleep regression most commonly affects naps but can sometimes cause night wakings too (as it did with my daughter).

The 18 Month Regression
Toddlers at this age learn that they are an independent person and start having opinions on things. They think they don’t need naps any longer, but we know better.

What to do?
The most important thing to realize is that these sleep regression are typically short lived and last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. To keep them form lasting longer, do your best not to reinforce the behavior by falling back into old habits (like rocking to sleep). If weather permits, spend lots of time outdoors being exposed to natural sunlight, do whatever it takes to encourage naps and create a sleep friendly environment at night. If you stay consistent with your response, the sleep regression will resolve itself and your child will sleep again.

For more information what to do if your child stops sleep, contact Cate directly.

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About Cate Mckee

Cate McKee is a certified pediatric sleep coach and owner of Sleepy Time Solutions, LLC. Entire families suffer when young children have problems falling asleep and staying asleep. As a certified pediatric Gentle Sleep Coach®, Cate's goal is to coach parents on how to teach their children (up through age 6) to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
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