5 ways to cope with sleep regression

Get top tips that’ll help you survive baby’s nasty sleep regression and claim back your rest!

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Unlike you, your baby’s sleep patterns vary because many different factors affect the quality and amount of shuteye they get at night. These include their activity levels during the day, their need to be fed, and also, if they have any pre-existing health conditions. Even if you think you’ve successfully settled your kewpie into a routine, she may still get up and demand your attention every now and then.

Still, you’ve always managed to coax her back to a deep slumber…but recently, you’ve started noticing the following:

The naps are getting shorter Your mini-me is waking up constantly and clocking fewer hours of sleep/naps than she used to.

Fussiness Your little one is restless and cranky as a result of less sleep.

The need to eat all the time Whether bottle- or breast-fed, bubba is demanding more food as she may have hit a growth spurt ― growing at a much faster pace.

Showing high-need qualities Also known as a Velcro baby, your sweetie who used to love playing on her own on a mat or in her activity gym now needs to be held ― and only in YOUR arms ― all the time.

Sleep regression describes a period of time (anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps (or waking early from naps) for no apparent reason. Just when you think you have conquered all your little one’s sleep challenges, when suddenly, you’re back to constant night wakings and non-existent naps.

Sleep regression in babies usually happens at around 4 months, between 8 and 10 months and for some babies, from 18 months to 2 years old.

If you’re nodding to all the signs above, your baby could be experiencing a bout of sleep regression. But, before you think of sleep regression as some dire health condition, it is actually part of bubba’s normal physiological development.

Explains Dr Kenny Pang, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultant and sleep specialist at Asia Sleep Centre, “It is believed to [take place] at a stage where the child’s brain begins to become [more] like an adult, it is believe that at this stage, the child may not need that much sleep anymore.”

Sleep regression in babies usually happens at around 4 months, between 8 and 10 months and for some babies, from 18 months to 2 years old. If you are harbouring hopes that your baby’s regression is temporary, you may be in for a rude awakening. Dr Pang points out that for some babies, it can be permanent.

There are a total of five stages of sleep — stages one to four is followed by rapid-eye movement sleep. Each stage is marked by less muscular activity but deeper brain waves. Dr Pang notes that usually, most children will fall into a deep sleep easily. “However, [during] sleep regression, the child’s brain starts to go into [the different stages] systematically.” Notes Dr Pang.

Discover the five simple tweaks you can make to manage baby’s sleep regression.


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While there are no known medical solutions to resolve sleep regression, you can follow these strategies to ease those sleepless nights for baby and you…

Stick to the routine If you don’t have a proper sleep routine — a sequence of activities to help baby wind down for sleep — create one. If you do, now is the time to stick to your guns. Although it might have little impact on keeping baby asleep, sticking to the routine will make it easier for her to fall back to a peaceful slumber after waking.

Avoid excessively long afternoon naps If your kewpie is cranky or easily agitated during the day, she’s probably not getting enough shut-eye. You might want to reduce the length of her afternoon nap, so that she’ll feel sleepier earlier and therefore, snooze for a longer stretch at night.

If you don’t have a proper sleep routine — a sequence of activities to help baby wind down for sleep — create one.


Get help All sleep-deprived mums should take note of this advice. Arrange for a trusted caregiver to pitch in while you try to catch up on your own sleep, Dr Pang suggests. It can help you keep your temper in check. So, put one of baby’s loving grandmothers on speed dial, pronto!

Swaddle or offer a pacifier Swaddling makes babies feel more secure as it replicates the snug environment of a mother’s womb. When she rouses in the middle of the night, being cocooned in a cosy wrap will soothe her. Pacifiers are another great tool to calm your irritable baby. Just make sure to remove the pacifier once she has fallen back to sleep, to reduce her dependence on it.

Use a baby swing Set the swing in sleep mode if possible ― then recline it such that baby is almost lying on her back, so as to prevent choking. Buckle your mini-me into the swing to secure her. Keep this sleep area distraction-free by removing any dangling toy mobiles, which furthers reduces her risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Dr Kenny Pang is an ENT consultant and sleep specialist at the Asia Sleep Centre.

Photos: iStock

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