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Sleep Regressions...Real or Not Real?

There are a lot of sleep consultants out there who make big money selling you all sorts of resources to help you navigate “predictable“ sleep regressions. But here’s the truth.

Around four months (13-17 weeks after due date more specifically), your child's sleep cycles will mature. Gone will be the days of 40 minute loops and here to stay will be sleep cycles that look more like waves with various stages of sleep throughout the wave. In my opinion, this is the only true sleep regression we can accurately predict. Here's why.

Sleep regressions can happen at literally any time in your child’s first several years of life. Other than the four month regression, the other "Regressions" you hear about aren't really about sleep. Sleep regressions are actually about emerging developmental milestones. These are common before major leaps in areas like gross motor skills, communication, and object permanence. Though we can sometimes anticipate a regression around a certain age, there really is no science behind sleep regressions beyond four months of age. You might notice a sleep regression occurring before your child learns to sit, roll, walk, babble, or climb. This might look like bedtime or nap time resistance, more frequent waking overnight, and naps that are suddenly shorter than normal.

You might notice an increase in separation anxiety around this time as well. This is due to the fact that these developments are both exhilarating for your child and also a tiny bit scary, as their world is rapidly growing bigger and changing all the time.

The good news is that these “regressions“ typically resolve within a couple of weeks if we remain consistent in our healthy sleep habits and don’t introduce new sleep associations that aren’t sustainable in the long term. Leaning into your predictable routines, focusing on lots of emotional connection, and holding boundaries here is key to successfully navigating through these.

Be sure you’re giving your child ample opportunity during the waking hours to perfect these new skills in and out of the sleep space, and remind yourself that new developments are good! This too shall pass!

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