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Sleep Regression in Babies: Causes & Tips

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Babies develop patterns of sleep at different stages of their development. Some of those patterns may result in sleep regression. While the term regression has a negative connotation, sleep regression, especially in babies, toddlers, and young children, is perfectly normal! So, it’s important to understand that baby sleep regression typically happens at specific points in your child’s development. 

This article will help you understand sleep regression and why it happens and provide tips for managing sleep regression in babies.

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Want to know when it’s time for your baby’s next sleep? Track your baby’s sleep, uncover patterns and trends, and ensure your baby is getting the right amount of sleep with Baby Daybook.

What is Baby Sleep Regression?

Sleep regression is when a baby sleeping well and following predictable sleep patterns suddenly has trouble settling down or staying asleep.  Sleep regression typically lasts for two to four weeks. However, the regression length is affected by what’s causing it.

You’ll be able to recognize your baby’s sleep patterns and if they’ve entered a phase of regression by using the Baby Daybook Sleep Tracker and logging their sleep times daily. 

What Causes Sleep Regression?

There are several reasons babies experience sleep regression. Typically, sleep regression is caused by changes in your baby’s routine or development that cause stress or anxiety.

  • Traveling or time changes
  • New developmental milestones like crawling or learning to stand
  • Mild illnesses such as ear infections or a cold
  • Growth spurts
  • Teething
  • Changes to their routine

Sleep regression can occur at any point. However, some sleep regressions commonly occur during growth spurts and are linked to their age and stage of development.

trouble falling asleep, Increased fussing and crying, resistance to naps, frequent night waking - signs of sleep regression.
Signs of sleep regression

3-4 months

The four-month sleep regression is the most well-known and expected among new parents. Just when your baby has settled into a seemingly predictable sleep schedule, and you can finally get some shut-eye, a sleep regression sets in!

This first developmental sleep regression may have several causes, including teething, growth spurt-related hunger, and new developmental milestones like rolling over for the first time!

6 months

Around six months old, babies often experience a second growth spurt. By now, your little one is capable of sleeping through the night and may wake simply for snuggles; this might be time to test a sleep training method.

8-10 months

Around nine months old, many babies begin crawling, although some start sooner or later. Your little one may begin standing around ten months old. These are two huge developmental milestones that may contribute to sleep regression.

Additionally, separation anxiety is also common around this age. Separation anxiety might cause your baby to wake up looking for reassurance from you during the night.

12 months

By 12 months, your baby is probably standing and, sometime around their first birthday, may take their first steps. However, the average age is 14 months, with some babies walking earlier and others taking those first steps closer to 18 months. Significant developmental milestones can cause temporary sleep problems.


Toddlers often go through sleep regressions at around 15 months, 18 months, two years, and three years that may be caused by nightmares and night terrors, fear of the dark, toddler teething, and separation anxiety.

Unfortunately, there is no way to stop a sleep regression from happening; however, understanding why your baby is regressing and getting to the root cause may help alleviate some of their discomfort or difficulty sleeping. 

Tips like following a consistent bedtime routine and sleep schedule can help reduce the likelihood of sleep problems.

Signs of Baby Sleep Regression

The signs of sleep regression may vary due to the cause of your baby’s sleep problems. 

  • More frequent night waking can be related to seeking attention, separation anxiety, or hunger from a growth spurt.
  • Trouble falling asleep at bedtime may result from new milestone development, teething, illness, or insufficient daytime sleep.
  • Increased fussiness or crankiness could be caused by overtiredness from not sleeping enough during the day, teething, or an illness.
  • Sudden resistance to naps may be related to separation anxiety or developing a new milestone.

Tips for Managing Sleep Regressions

Sleep regression can cause stress for tired parents, but the good news is that it is temporary! Once you know what’s causing their regression, you can manage the symptoms better. 

Baby Daybook helps parents track baby's sleep patterns, feedings, development and health activities in one place.
Tracking baby’s sleep with Baby Daybook

Daily Tips for Sleep Regression

  • Stick to a consistent bedtime routine even if the timing gets altered because of traveling, traffic delays, or other situations outside your control; following your baby’s regular sleep routine signals them that it is time to sleep!
  • Know and watch out for your baby’s sleep cues, like rubbing her eyes, fussiness, or yawning. Get them to bed or down for their nap before they’re over tired. An overtired baby or toddler makes it more challenging to get to sleep! You can use the Baby Daybook App to track your baby’s development and sleep signs!
  • Give lots of extra attention during the day and especially before bedtime. Especially if your baby seems stressed out by a life change or has separation anxiety, this can help them to feel more secure at night.
  • Since overtired babies are more likely to have sleep problems, ensuring they get enough sleep for their age, which includes daytime sleep, is vital!

Nighttime Tips for Sleep Regression

  • If your baby has started fussing in the middle of the night when they were sleeping all the way through, allow them a few minutes to fuss to see if they can self-soothe back to sleep. Babies can begin self-soothing between four and five months.
    • If your little one is still fussing after a few minutes, enter the room to check that everything’s okay, pat or rub them on the head or tummy, quietly say a reassuring word, and leave. 
  • Avoid rocking, cuddling, or feeding your baby in the middle of the night. Giving too much nighttime attention teaches them that fussing may get them extra “midnight” snuggles and snacks, encouraging them to wake up for your attention regularly. 
  • Try or re-try sleep training if your baby is at least 4 to 6 months old.

It’s important to remember that sleep regression is temporary, and like all other challenging milestones, you’ll get through this one, too!

Baby Daybook helps parents track their baby’s development, sleep patterns, and various health-related activities such as symptoms, temperatures, vaccinations, etc. The app is customizable, so parents can add any activity they wish! So, if you need extra help keeping track of your baby’s sleep patterns during a regression, Baby Daybook can help you stay consistent with sleep and routines!

Download now!
Want to know when it’s time for your baby’s next sleep? Track your baby’s sleep, uncover patterns and trends, and ensure your baby is getting the right amount of sleep with Baby Daybook.


Note: Our writers strive to maintain accuracy and quality in all content produced. However, it’s important to note that the information provided on our blog should not be considered professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. It’s highly recommended to consult a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns or questions.

Article by
L. Elizabeth Forry
L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with fifteen years of classroom teaching experience. She holds a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theater, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She has taught children in Japan, Washington D.C., Chicago, and suburban Maryland. She is trained as a reading therapist, has a TEFL certification, and has done extensive work with children regarding mental health, social-emotional development, and gender development. She has written curricula for children and educators and has led training sessions for parents and educators on various topics on early childhood development. She is the mother of two boys and resides outside Annapolis, Maryland.
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