Sleep Regressions: A Troubleshooting Guide.


My family recently fell victim to a sleep regression. The irony: I’m a sleep coach. The good news: It happens to everyone, and there’s a solution!

That’s right. My 2 year old started climbing out of her crib. We were in the process of moving, and even though I knew it was too early to move her to a bed, stubborn me decided it would be the perfect time to get rid of the crib and move her to a big girl bed. Well, I failed miserably. I had to go into full sleep coach mode.

So here’s a guide to help you cope with your sleep regression.

The first step is to make sure you’re looking at a sleep regression. You know when you have a sleep regression on your hands if:

  • Your child has been sleeping through the night, and all of a sudden wakes up several times at night.
  • Bedtime has always gone smoothly, and now your child fights it or has trouble falling asleep, or settling down at night.
  • Long naps disappear and you’re left with cat naps, or no naps at all.

Once you’re sure you’re dealing with a sleep regression, look back at what could have triggered it. Here are things that can trigger sleep regressions and what to do:

  • Traveling: Keep your routine as similar as you can to the routine you have at home. Bring with you a lovey that they always sleep with and do your night ritual as usual.
  • Changes in routine: This one is very simple. Go back to what was working before.
  • Your kid has always needed help to fall asleep: Eliminate all sleep props (rocking, feeding, pacifiers, car rides, etc) and start teaching your child how to fall asleep on her own.
  • You don’t have a routine or a night ritual: Establish a daily routine where things happen in the same order every day, and come up with a bedtime ritual that you can do every night. For example, bath, brush teeth, pjs, read a book, lights out.
  • Big life changes: a move, the loss of a loved one, starting in a new school, etc: Keep your routine and bedtime rituals intact. Offer the child more attention during the day, and make bedtime a little bit extra special for them. When moving, having their bedrooms look similar to the old one, for example, the furniture placed the same way, helps a lot.
  • Reaching a milestone: Learning to roll over, walk, talk, and using the potty can all cause small sleep regressions. These are short and as long as you keep your routine and your night ritual the same, and are consistent and not give in, like taking them out of the crib, the regression will be short lived. Once they’ve master the new skill, the regression will be done.
  • Your child’s sleep needs have changed: Depending on their age, they could be ready for a change in routine, for example, eating every four hours instead of three. They could be old enough to switch from two naps to one, and they could be napping too long.

So remember, as long as you identify the cause of your sleep regression and put a plan into action, you’ll be successful. Don’t lose hope. Sleep regressions shall pass.

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