Secret to Preventing Sleep Regressions
Updated: Nov 15
Every 4-6 weeks, expect some sort of developmental milestone maybe it cognitive or motor. And yes, that means temporary sleep regressions every 4-6 weeks.
Sleep Regressions and Developmental Milestones
How are sleep regressions interlinked with developmental milestones? More often than not, a baby's developmental milestones (physical and mental leaps) are associated/referred to as "regression." You know, the 4 month regression, 6 month regression, 8 month regression, 9 month regression, and so on. It's too bad developmental milestones have such a bad rep. In actuality, these are moments in which your baby is developing and making mental and physical leaps!
Every 4-6 weeks, expect some sort of developmental milestone, maybe it cognitive or motor. And yes, that means temporary sleep regressions every 4-6 weeks.
The first major milestone (rolling) is often one of the more challenging ones. It often causes sleep disturbances when your baby constantly practices rolling in the crib when it's time to sleep. Quite often, parents then end up moaning about their baby's latest sleep regression instead of celebrating their child's latest physical leap.
What Are Sleep Regressions?
When a child's sleep falls completely off track and sleep deprivation seems to be the driving force behind every family member's moodiness, you know you've hit a sleep regression. Developmental milestones frequently become full blown sleep regressions as a result of a parent's response to baby during sleep time.
For example, when a baby learns to stand in the crib, it's ok to help a little and lay your baby back down in the crib to sleep. A child who practices their new skills during sleep time may do so even up to two weeks. 9/10 times it will naturally subside on its own. But when parents make the process too rewarding and have a tickle fight/or lengthy discussions with the child during bedtime, you'll more likely see a persistent sleep regressions.
How to Prevent Sleep Regressions
To be honest, you can't fully prevent sleep regressions. During developmental leaps, children just need some 1-1 time with themselves to practice. Sometimes this means naps will be shorter than average or nap schedules may be thrown off sync. In those cases, you may find the need to get one of the naps in the stroller or move bedtime earlier. After a couple weeks, it'll be back to normal. But even then, don't forget to keep your eye out for little spells of language and social milestones (mini sleep regressions) scattered around every couple of months.
One way to help babies breeze through sleep regressions is to give baby more daytime practice with their new skill. The better they master their new skill, the quicker they get back to sleeping well. Despite the added daytime practice, babies at bedtime are fatigued, and fatigued babies tend to forget their skills and get frustrated while trying to fall asleep.
The TEMPORARY sleep disturbances caused by substantial mental/physical growth during the first few years of your child's life can be upsetting for both parent and child. So go ahead, give your little one some much extra cuddles during the day, this isn't going to be status quo.
When Milestones Are Delayed
There's no need reason to panic, but it's always worth checking in with your healthcare provider if there are any developmental milestone concerns and see if there's anything that needs to be done. As always early intervention is absolutely the best.
Need more help because your child's sleep has never truly returned to their prior good sleeper habits? I'm giving you my roadmap to success in my FREE 5-step sleep guide. You gotta grab that now and reserve your FREE 15-minute sleep assessment call today.