May 1, 2024

Baby Sleep Regressions: When They Happen and How to Get Through Them


Sleep regressions are REAL!

When it comes to babies, the most well-known sleep regression is the four-month regression, and we covered that regression in last week’s blog/podcast episode.

However, there are other sleep regressions babies can experience! But there are a lot of misconceptions about these other sleep regressions, so in this post, we’re going to be breaking down all the details of the sleep regressions your baby might experience after four months old. 

In this post I’ll explain:

  • What a sleep regression is
  • Why a sleep regression often occurs around 8-9 months old
  • Why there’s often a 12-14 month sleep regression
  • How to keep sleep on track during sleep regressions
  • How long sleep regressions usually last

And more!

What is a sleep regression?

A sleep regression can be characterized by a change happening in your child’s usual sleep patterns that lasts beyond a few sleeps.

If you have a child who is happy in their own bed and used to fall asleep and stay asleep seamlessly, yet is now protesting in their crib before falling asleep at night, or suddenly partying at some point in the night, they may be experiencing a sleep regression.

The challenging part, however, is that they could also be ready for a schedule change or a routine change. They could be getting sick, or having something else going on.

So when it comes to sleep regressions, here’s the simple rule I want you to keep in mind…

Aside from the four-month regression, sleep regressions really aren’t tied to age – they’re tied to physical and developmental milestones.

When babies learn a new skill, such as crawling, pulling to stand, or walking, their little brains and bodies are in such overdrive learning the skill that it can disrupt their sleep! Why sleep when I can practice this new cool skill??

Here are some common sleep regressions you might hear about, connected to age:

  • The 4-month regression
  • The 6-month regression
  • The 9-month regression
  • The 12-month regression

But like I said, sleep regressions aren’t usually age-specific. It’s also important to add that not every baby will go through every sleep regression!

The most independent sleeper could go through every sleep regression, or they could skip them altogether. A co-sleeping baby could go through every sleep regression, or skip them altogether. A baby might hit one sleep regression but skip the rest. Every child is different!

Now let’s dig into the nitty gritty of when and why your baby might experience a sleep regression…

The 6-Month Sleep Regression

Why might a 6-month-old go through a sleep regression?

Many six-month-olds learn how to sit up around this age and that’s really exciting! It can also be really distracting. I distinctly remember this milestone with my younger two…

I remember laying Avery down for a nap one afternoon, and 20 minutes later I still heard her chatting. She was super content, but just not sleeping! I checked the monitor and saw she was sitting up, and then it clicked – she doesn’t know how to lie down without flopping over! So she sat up but was then kind of stuck. So I popped in there real quick, laid her down, left the room again, and she fell asleep.

My youngest, on the other hand, essentially learned to sit up and lie down at the same time. So getting stuck wasn’t her problem! She just really liked this new cool skill.

I laid her down one afternoon and just kept hearing her talking and moving around instead of sleeping. I looked at the monitor, and Isla would sit up, then lay down, then sit up, then lay down, repeat. She did this for 45 minutes before finally falling asleep! It made me crazy, because I just wanted her to sleep, but she was practicing this new skill.

I did not ever go up to intervene, because one, she was content! But two, what would happen if I tried laying her down? She’d probably just pop right back up, and nothing would be accomplished except maybe reminding her that I wasn’t there but then leaving again, or maybe just stimulating her. So I let her be, and she did eventually fall asleep.

Here’s the thing with sleep regressions…

If your baby learns to sit up at 5 months old, or 7 months old, they’re probably not going to have a “six-month regression”! Also, just because your baby learned to sit up doesn’t mean they’ll go through a sleep regression – they may skip right passed it!

The 9-Month Sleep Regression

Many babies are learning to crawl around nine months old, making their little bodies process a lot more than they’re used to.

And some babies are so excited to crawl that they use time in bed to practice their newfound mobility, therefore taking longer to fall asleep, or crawling in the middle of the night. And that’s okay!

But if your baby starts crawling at 8 months old, they’re probably not going to have a “9-month regression”. Or if your baby is like my older two and doesn’t crawl until 11 months old, we’re not expecting a 9-month regression.

I will also add that I don’t remember my younger two having any regression at this milestone, so your baby may learn to crawl and just keep on sleeping!

Sidenote about sleep regressions around nine months old: this is a very common age for separation anxiety to come up, which can absolutely impact sleep. So if your baby seems to be going through a sleep regression around nine months old, read this blog post to learn more about how separation anxiety can affect sleep!

The 12-Month Sleep Regression

There is often an explosion of development happening around 12 months old!

Babies are becoming mini-toddlers and they’re often learning to pull up to stand, maybe take a few steps, and some might even be walking, running, or jumping.

So similar to crawling, you may find your little one using their sleep time to practice their new cool skill. And unless you perceive your baby to be stuck – like they’ve pulled up to stand and don’t know how to sit back down – just let them practice! They should eventually get over practicing and fall asleep.

If they are stuck, definitely pop in to help them lay back down and then leave again! Just be careful that this doesn’t become a game. If they pop up the moment you leave, wait a few minutes before going in again so it doesn’t feel like a “reward”.

My oldest went through a sleep regression around 12-13 months old!

We had sleep-trained her at this point, however we didn’t follow a specific method and kind of winged it, so we had no framework for what to do when something changed. So when anything went awry, we were winging it again.

As a little background, we were in a one-bedroom apartment, so Olivia’s “nursery” was our walk-in closet, and we didn’t close the door all the way because we wanted there to be airflow. So as she gained mobility, she would stand in the corner of her pack ‘n play closest to the door, push the door open as much as she could, and jump up and down in protest.

Because she had been a good sleeper for a couple of months now, we thought surely she needed something! She must be standing because she needs one last hug, she’s still hungry, or she’s scared of something. So we’d go in, try to calm her, hug her, even pick her up for a bit thinking it would do the trick, sometimes nurse her, then put her back down and leave.

Wrong move – she got so much more upset, and it just made things way worse.

We should have just let this milestone take its course and remained consistent with staying out, or a quick pop-in, but we didn’t know anything differently and ended up having to give her a crash course in sleep all over again. 

You probably know what I’m going to say next, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you have the super active baby who learns to walk at 10 months old, they’re probably not going to regress at 12 months old. Or if your baby is like older two and doesn’t walk until 13 and 15 months, a 12-month sleep regression isn’t happening!

And just because your baby is learning a new skill doesn’t mean they’ll have a regression.

Another little sidenote here: your baby might be starting some whole milk during the day, or maybe transitioning away from bottles after they turn 12 months old. It’s also around this time that babies are either ready for the transition to one nap, or they’re nearing the transition, so their nap and bedtime schedule may need to shift.

Like I said, 12 months is a milestone age in general! So if your little one seems to be regressing but hasn’t started walking, keep digging to see what might need to change.

What to Do When Your Baby is Going Through a Sleep Regression

When your baby is going through a sleep regression, don’t start making big schedule or routine changes right away! If you can connect these sleep changes to a developmental milestone, hang tight – we don’t want to make things worse by changing them right away.

If your baby is not an independent sleeper…

Next, if your baby is not yet an independent sleeper, they’re likely going to need more help during these regressions, so help them! However, similar to the four-month regression, don’t just assume they need to eat each waking, or again right after you’ve already laid them down.

If their norm has been to wake up once a night and they wake up three times a night through this sleep regression, don’t just feed them three times! Help them back to sleep with patting, shushing, and rocking. We don’t want this sleep regression to technically “end” but feel like it never did because now they’re in the habit of wanting three night feeds.

If your baby is already an independent sleeper…

If your baby is already an independent sleeper, we want to make sure their solid sleep stays on track!

A sleep regression shouldn’t make you need to “re-sleep train.”

The most important thing to keep in mind is consistency. If your baby falls asleep independently for naps and bedtime, we’re still expecting them to fall asleep independently for naps and bedtime. And if they have been sleeping through the night without needing a feed for months, we’re expecting they continue to do so!

So if they’re taking extra long to fall asleep one day or night, because they’re practicing their new skill, give them space! Let them practice practice practice this new skill, and then fall asleep.

If they’re stuck, like they can’t lay back down, for example, help them! But keep it brief – try to just pop in quietly, remind them “it’s night night time,” and leave again.

If they get more upset or are really struggling, once again, help them! But try to start with the least hands-on interventions before adding on more.

Always try to give them space, then try a quick pop-in. If the quick pop-in doesn’t work, they might need a quick pick-up. If they’re really upset, you might even have to hold your hand on their back for a bit, or “worst case,” maybe you have to rock them or sit in there until they’re fully asleep. Not ideal, but we’ve certainly done it! And just one off night isn’t going to derail all of your hard work.

Finally, if your little one is regressing because they’re focusing on this new skill and practicing it in their crib, practice practice practice that skill during the day so it’s not so novel when they’re sleeping. A pediatric physical therapist wrote this guest blog post for us about how to actually practice these physical milestones, so check it out!

How long do sleep regressions last?

In general, a sleep regression could just be a couple of days, or it could last up to two weeks.

If a “sleep regression” seems to go beyond two weeks, there are likely bigger changes that need to be made around sleep. This could be as simple as a change in awake windows or schedule, or more complicated like a nap transition.

For all of the awake windows and schedules you’ll need for your baby as they keep getting older, make sure to snag our free Guide to Baby Sleep Schedules!


Remember, sleep regressions really aren’t connected to a specific age your baby is, they’re connected to developmental milestones. And just because your baby is hitting a new milestone doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll regress!

So hang tight and remember to remain consistent. Although sleep regressions aren’t avoidable, we can navigate them with confidence and sleep skills can remain intact!

I also want you to know that I’ve been in your shoes. Sleep regressions are frustrating but normal, and there’s nothing wrong with your baby; this too shall pass. Your baby can absolutely sleep well again!

Finally, if your baby is not yet an independent sleeper, it’s not too late! Some people hit “rock bottom” with their little one’s sleep during a regression and think they have to wait it out before reaching out for help, but you can absolutely start sleep training while your child is going through a regression!

It’s so nice to finally have a plan of what to do when and to come out of the sleep regression even more well-rested than before. So if you’re ready for that help, check out how we can support you!

With Grace,


sleep regressions