Sleep regression: Why your once good sleeper’s now awake

toddler on bed - sleep regression

Your little one has been sleeping like a, well, baby and you’re feeling rested, relaxed and pretty confident that this sleep pattern will continue until they’re a teenager.

Then, without warning, your baby or toddler turns into a human alarm clock set to go off at (very) regular intervals. Their snooze button might be hard to find at certain ages, but skewiff sleeping patterns are a sign of exciting things happening in your tot’s brain and body.

Here are some reasons for your mini-mite’s disrupted sleep. It’s growth spurt time!

What’s going on?

sleep regression

If your tike has been napping like a pro by day and sleeping for hours on end by night, then suddenly isn’t, this is sometimes known as a ‘sleep regression’.

This wakefulness may leave you bleary-eyed and confused, but the good news is that a ‘sleep regression’ is actually a sign that your tot is progressing in their development.

Sleep can be affected by:

• A physical development (like learning to roll, crawl, pull up, cruise or walk);

• An emotional change (like feeling separation anxiety when parents aren’t with them); or

• A neurological step (like becoming aware of the distance between their cot and Mummy).

It can be hard to sleep when your baby’s brain is working overtime processing new skills, and there are certain ages when it’s common for sleep to go haywire. Of course, every baby is different, but forewarned is forearmed! (via Pinky McKay).

Four-months-old

sleep regression

Around this age, it’s common for babies’ sleep patterns to get a shake up. Chances are, they’ll wake up lots in the night, have trouble getting to sleep and possibly resemble Mr (or Little Miss) Grumpy. This is a positive development though – your bub is growing, getting more active, looking out for Mum and Dad and learning how to control a little body that just rolled over and woke itself up. This is the time to try different ways to settle a crying baby.

Six-months-old

By the time they’re halfway through their first year, your baby might be sleeping for six solid hours or more. Crack the champagne, because it’s time to celebrate! Or not… because around six months there are a couple of things that may affect bub’s sleep – crawling, learning how to stay awake, separation anxiety and ‘object permanence’ (knowing that Mummy is still around for a cuddle, even if you’re not in the nursery). (via Raising Children Network).

Nine-months-old

sleep regression

This one can happen a month earlier or later, but is caused by more of those brain and body developments. Crawling, plus learning to pull up and cruise can disrupt sleep (you’ve got a little busy bod!). Absorbing language and getting new teeth can also make for restless nights.

12-months-old

sleep regression

Around bub’s first birthday, many babies are learning to walk. This is very exciting stuff, and focusing on putting one foot in front of the other might mean that there’s a backward step with their sleep. Some one-year-olds also become resistant to nap-time, but for other babies, this is an age when sleep gets better and better. Ahhhh…

18-months-old

toddler on bed - sleep regression

At this age, your toddler might not want to go to sleep (it’s much more fun to stay up late with the family!).

They’re walking, putting words together and have new-found independence, which is all fab, but might not sit so well with bedtime. The good news is that they’ll probably be sleeping better once they do agree to close those peepers.

Age unrelated?

It’s worth remembering that disrupted sleep might not be caused by your mini-mite’s developmental milestones. It’s always good to see your doctor if you suspect your tot is sick (ear infections, food sensitivities and the like can also cause sleeplessness). And daylight saving can also affect your little dreamer’s body clock.

Sweet dreams are made of this

newborn sleeping baby - sleep regression

And if the nights are long and full of wakefulness, try not to worry. Your little one’s sleep will probably improve once they get through their latest growth spurt.

In the meantime, make sure you keep to the usual bedtime routine (and get-back-to-sleep routine), give your tot lots of cuddles and try putting them to bed when they’re awake, so they learn how to get themselves to sleep.

Sleeplessness might be a growing pain for bub (and for yawny you), but it’s also an exciting progression in their development. They’ll sleep like clockwork sometime between now and teenage hood, but it’s not every day that bub learns to roll over!

In the meantime, take a look at our article on the Lulla Doll. This ingenious sleep aid is out now and plays eight hours of human heartbeat and breathing sounds to help babies and toddlers sleep easy. Ahhh….