The Thing About Sleep Regressions

fussing and crying during sleep regression

Every once in a while your baby’s sleep will mysteriously become a disastrous mess. At the same time your baby will become really fussy which is either the cause or result of the sleep deprivation. The slender thread of normalcy you’ve been clinging to will disappear and you will stumble into the void of parenting despair wondering “Why did we think this baby thing was such a great plan anyway?!?!?”

If you’ve ruled out all the obvious causes of sleep stoppage (teething, colds, ear infections, etc.) then what is probably going on is a “sleep regression”. Lots of people have written about sleep regressions but the best post I’ve found, bar none, is to be found over at Ask Moxie.

Moxie recommends a sleep regression book called “Wonder Weeks” by the Danish researchers Vanderijt and Plooij. I don’t recommend this book for two reasons. One – it’s pretty expensive. Two – the only thing you really need to know (which comes from Wonder Weeks) is this:

According to Vanderijt and Plooij, the spurts happen at weeks 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, and 55.

This seems like a lot of growth spurts and if you’ve just survived one you’re probably looking at that long list and fighting back a wave of nausea. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it seems. I’ve never known anybody to have more than 2-3 rough sleep regressions. In my experience the most COMMON sleep regressions seem to come at 6 weeks, 4 months, and 6 months.

What Happens During a Sleep Regression


Sleep stops.

Naps get short, helping baby fall asleep takes forever, baby wakes up constantly, baby wakes up miserable, baby simply won’t sleep, etc. Unsurprisingly this often leaves parents a bit shell shocked.


Fussiness starts.

Perhaps it’s due to sleep deprivation but your sweet happy baby will morph into a fussy cranky little gremlin. And since they’ll be barely sleeping you’ll have ample opportunity to enjoy it.

Nursing/feeding is endless.

Sometimes regressions are also called “growth spurts” and (especially for nursing moms) the idea is that your baby is demanding more from you to amp up your supply because they’re getting bigger and need more food. Thus if you’re nursing you may find your baby is glued to your boobs endlessly. We’ll it’ll feel endless because even a few days with a baby attached to your boob can feel like an eternity. Bottle fed babies also demand more/frequent food.


Must. Be. Held.

Babies often become clingy and needy during regressions. No longer content with some playtime on the bouncy seat or play mat, your baby ONLY wants to be held. Generally ONLY by you. Note: in case it’s not clear, sleep regressions are a bad time to try to end co-sleeping.

How to Live Through a Sleep Regression

Regressions generally last anywhere from a few days to a week (although I’ve talked to people who swear that their baby took up to 2 weeks to navigate a regression). And I won’t lie to you, sometimes they can be really rough. Especially if things were already feeling a bit shaky. But…


Don’t Panic!

You’re already feeling pretty beat up so when things take a determined turn for the WORSE it’s easy to flip out. But this is temporary. It’s a bad week. It’s shorter than having the flu, right? You can do this!


Do What Works (for now)

Your baby may need extra soothing. Crib sleepers may go back into the swing. You may need to break out the swaddle and paci again. Babies who were going down awake may need to be nursed/rocked to sleep. You may find baby sleeps better in your bed. Don’t look at this as a “step back”, look at this as taking steps to help everybody sleep. Right now.


Get Back on the Sleep Path

Sleep regressions are temporary. Unless you let it push you off course permanently. It’s OK to do what works (nurse to sleep, rock to sleep, use pacifiers) to navigate a sleep regression. However if a month has gone by and you’re still doing these things then you’ve fallen into the classic sleep regression trap – you let a temporary survival tactic become the new sleep norm. Which is OK until you want your baby to start napping longer and actually sleep through the night.

Don’t let a temporary sleep regression become a permanent sleep problem.

Sadly babies do not come with alarms that ring to signify the end of a sleep regression. Sometimes you’ll know because miraculously your baby will sleep a ton (for a day or two) and everybody will breathe a heady sigh of relief. Sometimes things will just gradually get better (and thus it’s less obvious). But keep an eye towards your fundamental sleep goals – helping baby get enough sleep, not letting baby stay awake too long, and helping baby learn to fall asleep.

Anybody have any experiences with sleep regressions to share? How long they lasted? Did anything help?
Photo credit: {Tosdatophoto & Lisa Schaffer}


  1. Ok, I’m pretty confident that my 5.5 mo old started going through the 4 mo. sleep regression when she was about 3.5 mo. Problem is she seems to have retained her bad sleep and I’m not sure how to get her to go back to good sleep. First off, I have to preface this by saying that I know that even the worse way she is sleeping now is better than a lot of babies, but when you’re used to it being easier, anything worse is hard!

    So, here’s what happened / is happening. From about 1.5 mo to 3.5 mo she had a great schedule where she’d sleep from between 8:30 – 9:30 pm til between 7:30 – 8:30 am . Her naps have always been all over the place. Anywhere from a 1/2 hr. to 2.5 hrs. Around 3.5 mo. she started waking up a little earlier each day. first 7:15, then 7, then 6:45 and so on. She bottomed out around 4 am, and now she will wake up anytime from 3:30 am to 6 am. If she wakes up before 5:30 or so she will usually go back to sleep after I feed her, otherwise she won’t, but will still be tired.

    From when she was an amazing sleeper until now we’ve basically been doing the same things: bedtime routine, swaddle, binkie, white noise machine. Nothing has really changed there. Also, when she wakes up we don’t go get her right away, in case she will go back to sleep. So, why did she not go back to the way she was sleeping before and is there anything I can do to nudge her that way?

    • Hello i read the comments and was relieved i wasnt alone in this! But the thing my girl is one year and lately she has been fussing at night and waking up many times and nthg calms her down. Sickness is ruled out. What can i do about that? Is that sleep regression at this age? Help!!

      • When my daughter was a year old we went thru the worst sleep regression…. she always slept thru the night but at 1 for about 4 weeks that all changed …. it will get better …. patience is all I can advise

  2. We’re using the Wonderweeks app which is great for quickly working out if you’re likely in a regression (and how far you’ve got to go…!) and it’s FREE ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Sleep Regression

    I was so proud of myself achieving the put baby down awake and he would fall asleep…until he started waking up every 2 hours at night after 2 weeks of CIO working.

    By reading the regression post, I realized I have a sleep association problem. I need to cut the bottle/feed out right before I put him in the crib.

    So I fed him 20mins before I put him in the crib, and he cried like crazy….CIO take 2!

    Will I have to go through 2 weeks for CIO sleep training again???

    Is there anything else that I can do to keep him sleeping longer at night?
    What is a good stretch of sleep at night for a 5 month old?

    Any advice to a sleep deprived zombie mom of four would be much appreciated!


  4. 6 months regression… O..M..G.
    my baby used to be able to sleep on her own… now she wakes x 2 per night, wants more milk and need to be rocked to sleep and short naps constant wakings… sigh.. im just soooo relieved to see alexis’s post.. thank you!!!

    • My LO finally decided to only wake up two times at night at 5 1/2 months. Prior to that she was up every two hours. Enter 6 month sleep regression. We are back to up every two hours, no naps, incredibly fussy.

      I would love for twice a night ๐Ÿ™

  5. Thank you for the great info. I’ve read and re-read your posts and some comments but can’t remember if I’ve seen anything about how to reverse getting trapped into a sleep regression pattern. I’m too exhausted to remember…

    Do you have info on how to break the nasty sleep regression patterns that have become my three month old’s new pattern? She’s waking up every 45 minutes to an hour starting at 2 or 3 am, until 6 or 7 am. Goodness, help me!

    She sleeps for 3ish hour stretches starting at 7pm and then it falls apart in the middle of the night. She loves her paci and her swing.

    Thank you, thank you!

    • Hello Beth,

      I was wondering how did things progressed with your baby since that sleep regression?
      I have 8 week old baby boy and I am noticing that after 3a.m. He wakes up every hour until 6

    • And nurses every hour. I wanted to know if things did change for you?

      Really would appreciate your help!
      Thank u in advance

      • Hi Yulia! Wow my baby has come a long way since then–she’s almost 8 months old now! She wakes up usually two times a night these days. But what broke her pattern of waking every hour is that I moved out of her room. I slept next to her while
        She slept in her cosleeper. The night I moved out she slept for 7 hours straight!!!!! I think that I was hearing every whimper and squeak and picked her up unnecessarily and fed her when she didn’t really need to eat! She definitely wasn’t hungry every hour! I don’t know if that’s helpful. I guess it depends on your sleeping arrangements ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Help! My lo is 4 months today. She hates nap time and fights me all the way to sleep for naps. I try to get her to fall asleep and after a crying fit she passed out but when I lay her down she wakes. If I lay her down awake she either cries forever or lays there laughing and giggling! Then bc no nap she’s super fussy by the evening!

  7. I’m currently undergoing the good ole four month sleep regression with my second baby. My first baby woke up every two hours until he was… Wait for it… 19 months old. For 19 long months I was up with him 4-5 times a night and I’m terrified of this happening again. My baby cries almost instantly when I put him in his crib, I’ve tried dousy yet awake and he cries and wakes himself back up. Any tips or advise for this, I myself am not a mom who can let my kiddo cry it out (no offense to anyone who does, I just simply can’t). I can’t figure out how to get him down without crying.

    • Hello

      I know this is an old post but I’m having EXCACTLY the same now and I also cannot do the crying vibe! Any advice, as you made it through ??!!


      • Nursing for comfort (as much as I hate it… That has helped us)

        Rocking and singing

        Swing sleeping

        Co sleeping (not sure on the quality of sleep but at least there are no tears)

        My sweet little angel has turned into a monster… But I know we are close to making it through! Her three week growth spurt lasted about 10 days.

  8. Please help! My little one slept between 6-8 hours from about 7 weeks to 3.5 months. She’s almost 4.5 months and initially it started with her waking up once a night for a feed when she was about 3.5 months. She had started teething at 3 months. I would put her to sleep either with a soother or breastfeeding. It worked great for us. For two weeks now she refuses the soother, naps an average of 1 to 2 hours the whole day! (She used to have 3-4 naps that were between 1.5-3 hours long) and wakes up every hour and a half at night to feed. By 3 am she refuses to let go off my breast and just sucks all night ๐Ÿ™ if I move she wakes up and starts to cry. I don’t know if she’s hungry or teething or regressing but its causing her to not sleep and she’s become a very fussy baby. Cries if she’s not held or if I leave the room. She refuses the soother now, teething aids have not helped and will only doze off if latched on my breast. what do I do??

  9. Help!!! I don’t know if my almost 9 month old is experiencing a sleep regression or if this is something else, and I’m desperate for some advice that will get him to fall asleep. My son bed-shares with me and has done so for months. I would take him to bed with me, nurse him and he’d fall asleep no problem. He’d wake a few times per night but was fairly easily settled with nursing. I know people will have issues with this routine, but let’s not go there right now as my problem hasn’t even been mentioned yet. About 4 nights ago my son started having trouble falling asleep. I’d take him to bed and he would just cry. Nursing didn’t help and he would just toss from tummy to back, slap at the mattress, and even refuse the breast. All this while crying (or screaming). He was clearly tired as he’d rub at his eyes. It’s like he was too wired to sleep or something. I tried changing our routine by giving him a big bottle of milk about 30 minutes before bed, changing him, getting him into our room with the lights very dimmed, reading stories, and then turning out the lights. As soon as the lights go out he frantically reaches for me and seems to panic. I offer him my breast and he may or may not go for it briefly, but then starts to cry. This has gone on for hours. The longest night was last night when he didn’t fall asleep for 4 hours. I don’t know what to do. Is this a phase or something else? I should mention that his first tooth came through yesterday. He wakes in the morning very chatty and doesn’t appear to be in pain from the teething. I hope someone can offer some insight/suggestions. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Vi

  10. My daughter is 14 weeks old. Starting 8 days ago, she began to wake up every 1-2 hours after we had finally achieved a livable sleep pattern (bed at 10, up at 1:30 and 4:30). She has never been a great sleeper, but this regression is killing me. She’s not 4 months old yet so is it even possible that this is a standard regression? We recently moved her into her crib in her own room, but the constant waking began even before we moved her. She will sleep longer if I put her in the bed with me. I’m just not sure what to make of all of this. Any advice or thoughts?

    • Hi Kelly! My little girl is 13 weeks and I think she may be going through the 4 month regression early as well. I was wondering what happened in your case? Did your daughters sleep improve after a few days? My daughter was going to bed and naps awake with no help from me and she would sleep a nice chunk at night. Now she is a fussbot who has to be held to sleep and g-d forbid I put her down too soon…her eyes pop wide open and rinse and repeat ;). She is waking every hour at night!!

  11. My son woke up between three and eight times a night until he was a year old and we finally sleep trained him using the pick up out down method and it worked in two nights. My 4 month old daughter was better but also not a good sleeper but this time around every time she wakes up I do not give her the boob. She gets picked up/put down until she falls asleep there’s very minimal if any crying. I know she can sleep between 6-8 hours stretches because she started doing this at 2 months at night so if she’s up after two hours of me nursing her it’s not for hunger, it’s for comfort. With your baby pick him/her up and put them back down ….he whimpers again pick up pop back down.
    I created insane habits for my first that led to bad sleeping and I refused to do it with my second. Btw my girl is not starving from this method. She is exclusively breastfed and weighs 18 pounds at 4.5 months.

  12. Baby is just about 24 weeks (6months) I think we have hit the six month regression, fusses when I put him down fights all naps and bedtime even if he’s rocked, nursed etc. any tips?

    • I think we’ve hit that mark too… My baby boy is almost 6mo and he’s fighting naps and sleep, just fine if I hold him but as soon as I set him down he cries.

  13. Please help!!! My 5 month old son gas always slept great at night. Now all ofva sudden around 1 am he starts rolling around and whining in his sleel until i nurse him. Its like no matter what position i Put him in he cannot get comfortable. This has started 3 nights ago. He has never napped well.

  14. Hi there

    My 9 month old gas croup 2 months ago and ever since then we have such a hard time.putting him to sleep , he’s bad for naps as it is unless we are out he will sleep for hours ..he loves motion and because of the croup we were told by the doctor to keep him.upright in his car seat at night. Now every night he will sleep for an hour in his crib and hysterically freak out and be awake for hours sometimes not falling asleep until 12 am or later, we have to rock his car seat or push him.around in his stroller to have him calm down and fall we are so desperate and absolutely over tired . ๐Ÿ™
    P.s he’s never been a really good sleeper and when he wakes up from naps he’s crying before he used to babble and play after a nap until I got him.

  15. Hi Alexis,
    I absolutely love your blog and cannot wait for your book to come out! Your advice is the reason that my now 16-month old has been sleeping through the night since 7 months. However, something is happening with her for the last few nights and I just can’t figure it out.
    She has suddenly become completely unwilling to fall asleep on her own. I put her down awake (as I’ve done every night since 7 months) and she SCREAMS bloody murder. I have basically reverted back to cio fur the last 3 nights. The first night she cried for 35 minutes, the second night 10 minutes, and tonight 10 minutes- but only because I put a second lovey in her crib, which she found and stopped crying. She’s been throwing hers out as soon we walk out of her room. Is there some sort of sleep regression at this age? She’s acting totally normal all day. I’m so baffled and sad about this…
    Thank you for all you do for us!

    • Thanks for your kind words ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s possible that she’s letting you know she’s ready to drop to 1 nap per day. If however she’s already on a 1-nap schedule it could be because she’s a toddler now. (I mean there is an 18 month regression but regardless your approach is the same.)

      Toddlers want what they want and they DO NOT WANT to go to bed. Crying for 10 minutes feels like “I don’t want to sleep!!!!” more than a real problem. Also throwing out the lovey is something that kids do. This is where natural consequences come into play – if you throw it out Mom will give it back to you one time with a gentle reminder to not toss bunny. If bunny gets tossed again bunny will have to sleep on the floor tonight.

      • Hi Alexis,
        Thank you for responding. I just thought I would let you know that whatever she was going through seems to be over. It seemed like she just randomly needed to be re-sleep trained. I have no idea why, but those 3 nights of CIO did the trick. You should know that I would NEVER have had the strength to use this method, had I not found your site when she was 3 months old. I had forgotten how hard it was to listen to that crying! Especially now that she can talk . Anyway, thanks again…

  16. Hi Alexis!

    I’ve been an avid reader since my first was born in 2013. Now I’m on my second and I feel compelled to ask. Can sleep regressions start and stop? My 7 week old was sleeping 3 hours at night and then all of a sudden stopped at the 6.5 week mark where he started to wake up and fuss every 1 to 2 hours. Then, after 3 or 4 nights (i can’t remember) he stopped. Had one day of EPIC sleep (probably 20 hours of out of 24) and then went back to sleeping 3 hours sessions. Then all of a sudden at 7.5 weeks he went BACK to 1 to 2 hours for some strange reasons.

    He has fallen asleep on his own in his rock and play several times. We swaddle like no one’s business as well as have a sound machine going for him. He falls asleep fine but seems to be struggling with staying asleep unless he’s in the carrier or being held. He’s only 7 weeks old (almost 8) so I’m just not sure what options I have to try to get him to sleep longer or if this is just another case of “this too shall pass.” Any advice?

  17. Hi Alexis –

    I discovered your blog a few days ago via a Google search and I wanted to say I love all your advice. I have a 19 month old son and 6 week old daughter right now. Two kids under two has been challenging to put it nicely :).

    With my son, I have a hard time remembering all the details early on. He did sleep through the night at 10 weeks and has been a tremendous sleeper ever since.

    Our daughter on the other hand seems like she is going to give us a run for our money..up until a few nights ago she was doing really well for her age – sleeping 5 hours her first stretch then fed and went another 3 or so. However, now she has been been fighting her nap in the afternoon, more fussy and most nights (in general) she takes a while to be put down for “bed.” And has been waking up an hour or two after I finally get her down. When she wakes up I don’t think she’s necessarily hungry. Sometimes I can sooth her back to sleep w her pacifier. But going from 5 hours to now one or two is driving me crazy. Do you think it is a sleep regression or growth spurt? I am not sure what to do. I know she is only 6 weeks but I have been trying to train her as much as possible early on. Any advice?!


    One tired and frustrated momma ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. HELP! Your blog was a beacon in the night when we first sleep trained our son. He’s now 18 months and has been an awesome sleeper since he was about 7-8 month old. We used to be able to put him down, let him cry for a minute or less, and he’d be out for the entire night.

    Just this past two weeks, it has been hell. He has been screaming bloody murder the second we set him down, jumping, hanging off the edge of his crib. Then worst of all, he will get himself so worked up, he pukes. After we clean him up, he’s totally fine and conks out like he used to. Every. Single. Night. This has been going on for 10 nights straight now. Please, please, please someone help us break the vomit cycle!

    • I forgot to add – we know it’s not teething (he has all 16 teeth already, yikes!) and although he had an ear infection and was sick before all this started, he’s in the clear now. Thank you so much for any possible advice. ๐Ÿ™

  19. Hi Alexis,

    My wife and I have a 6 1/2 month old little girl. She has been sleeping through the night from around 8 to 5 since 6 weeks. Of course there have been times when she wakes in the night, or doesn’t want to sleep. But they have been few and far between. 4 nights ago my wife and I gave her up to grandma for the night to celebrate Valentines Day. We found out the next day that the baby didn’t want to sleep at all and was very fussy. To get to her to sleep for any period of time grandma had to hold her, and ended up sleeping with her in her arms until morning. We figured, no big deal, it was one night, maybe she just missed us! Well, the last 3 nights have been more of the same. She will go to sleep after her last feeding only to wake up in 1-2 hours. She will cry and cry until picked up, there is no comforting her by standing over her crib with a hand on her chest and cooing with her anymore. She needs to be picked up, and will be asleep within minutes after picking her up, sometimes within seconds. She has been teething, however we don’t believe this is the problem, just to confirm we gave her baby tylenol last night, no difference. We both work and are very afraid of forming co-sleeping habits that will maintain for years to come. Please help.

    • Poor Grandma and poor you guys!

      I’m inclined to believe that this has less to do with the Valentines debacle (although it was LOVELY of Grandma to babysit for you guys) and more to do with something involving the bedtime routine and her age (meaning she’s at the age where things that DID work frequently STOP working). You don’t mention what her bedtime routine is but I’m thinking that she is cuddled to sleep? Yes? If so that’s the issue.

  20. Hi Alexis,
    I absolutely love your site & your great sense of humor.
    I need some help…big time.
    I started sleep training my then 7 month 3 week baby boy who I love to the moon & back because he was dependent on the boob to sleep. All my fault. He was “sleeping through the night” at 8 weeks, 9-4, boob, 430-730/8 & it was glorious! Then teething came into play right around 5 months. The only way to comfort him & get him back to sleep was to nurse…and BOOM, I then, not realizing it created the nurse to sleep habit. So we started sleep training. (followed the sleep lady shuffle, stand by crib 3 days, offer comfort, move closer to door & so on…well I never made it to the door.) He was doing really well, fussing, no crying for 10-20 minutes & would drift off, waking around 3, (which I can deal with) nurse, sleep til 630-7. After about 5 nights, naps became increasing shorter & he just couldn’t settle down. He turned 8 months & is now pulling himself up & standing for long periods of time, one hand, no hands etc. I wasn’t going to start nap training (I’m home) until we conquered bedtime, but bedtime was/is getting more & more difficult & I thought it would be easier by now, (2 weeks tomorrow) but I realized that he is over tired from not napping. So I tried for him to nap any way necessary, nurse, car ride etc, but he just can’t seem to sleep. He’s visibly tired, rubbing eyes, yawning, etc. but he can’t settle down. While he’s nursing he’s climbing all over me. So I read up and came up with the idea that this MUST be a regression? Naps really began to suffer about 9 days in only taking 30 minute & if I’m lucky 1 hour naps. Typically I had him in crib by 725, asleep by 740, up at 3 nurse, then sleep until 6ish…the time change didn’t help things either! Blah!! The past two nights have been awful & have gone like this; asleep by 8, last night woke at 11, up at 3, boob, down at 330, up at 440 & despite my better judgment brought him to bed to only have him stay UP until 720!! As I lay in bed crying while I write this, I do believe this is a regression (I think) I’m a new mom & just hope something isn’t wrong. I get he’s not self soothing & still dependent on the nipple, BUT even that isn’t helping him sleep at naps or the middle of the night. Please any insight you can give would be so appreciated.

  21. I just have more of a clarification type question than anything else. Our little guy seems to be going through a sleep regression. He’s right at 4 months old, and has been consistently sleeping 10 hours in a row per night. Over the last few days, he’s started waking up every few hours and has been hard to console, on top of fighting naps. He typically takes 3 naps, each around 45-1.5 hours with his last nap being between 30-45 minutes. He goes to sleep then at 7:30. Am I correct that his typical sleep schedule will resume within a few days (during that time, we basically do whatever is necessary to get him to sleep enough) and then we can start teaching him to fall asleep on his own? Right now I rock him until he’s asleep and then for 10 minutes, then lay him down and walk out.

  22. Dearest Sleep saver

    My last post was as long as the Great Wall, but I’ll make this one shorter. Little one (currently running on 16 weeks 1 day) has always been the poorest of poor sleepers. Swing/paci nothing worked. Rolled over about a week back and hit the regression, looks like. Please please tell me what to do with below points – I could weep with happiness if I got any ‘Alexis’ method to jump out of this pithole

    1. Always been a crappy napper – now I use the swing (a manual one, which I need to keep swinging for the minutes she sleeps) for her day time naps that range anywhere between 30 min to 1.5 hours (with paci inserted midway during the nap). She takes naps somewhere around (never the same time everyday though) 9, 12.30(her longest nap), 4, and to my dismay a small one at 7. Once she is up at 7.30 she is so active and playful and it takes the combined efforts of me + mom + feeding + rocking + swing + paci to get her settled by 11.30 or 12. She takes ten to fifteen minutes crap naps when am nursing or rocking her between 7.30 and the time she settles down. Please tell me how I can help her settle down for the night at 7.30 or say even 8.30 instead of 11.30. I would gleefully exchange all my money with someone who can make her sleep at 8.30 (because she has never gone to bed that early since birth!)

    2. Once she passes out at 11.30, she is continuously up at 3, 4.30, 5.30 and 6.30 (for feeds) until she is up for the day by 7.30 or 8. Sometimes, she needs the paci as well. I am seriously LOST.

    3. Tried CIO lasting fifteen minutes for two night sleep sessions – baby was clueless, I was clueless and we ended up hugging & crying. My mom did not know whom to console first

    So, there you go – a very unsettled, sleepless in India (ugghh!) family. Any ‘Alexis’ advice would be sooooo helpful.

    P.S – I have not known or do not know Ferber, or other sleep stuff. I just like to stay by one method and that is – Precious Little Sleep (Oh! How Very Precious)

  23. Just wondering if anyone went thru the 4 month regression early and if it wasn’t THAT bad? My son is almost 3.5 months and was sleeping from 630-730pm (bedtime depending on last nap of the day) to 630-7am with night feeds around 130am and 430am (exclusively breastfed) for about 6 weeks now. 3 days ago he started waking up around 10pm and every 45 mins to an hour from there on out. At first I thought 3 month growth spurt but I think that happened already a couple weeks ago because we had some aggressive nursing days and then it tapered off, and his daytime feeds have been 3-4 hours apart which is normal for him right now so I ruled that out and decided it must be the regression. The thing is–its not that bad. I do have to get up and pat his tummy and sometimes pop in a paci but he goes right back to sleep. However, we introduced the swing (thanks to Alexis’ advice on this site and it worked WONDERS for us) around 7-8 weeks old and he’s been falling asleep independently in it since then, with falling to sleep times getting progressively shorter. Now sometimes even less than 30 seconds and hes out. So I’m just wondering if this is indeed the sleep regression if it just doesn’t seem that bad because he’s been able to independently go to sleep now for some time and if anyone else had a not so bad regression? Of course the other shoe could drop at his actual four month mark but he has all the signs– waking up at 45 minutes on the dot during naps, and fighting the last nap of the day so hard that sometimes bed is happening as early as 6 this week.

    What do you think? Regression or fluke? Wonder Weeks app says he’s not due for another leap for 8 days and so far the app has been pretty dead on the nail with predicting fussy days.

  24. Hi! I used your suggestions and techniques to teach my now 6 1/2 month old baby to fall asleep on own. THANK YOU! After his 4 month sleep regression, we had a very good month of sleeping on his own. As soon as he hit 6 months tho, he seems to have fell into a regression. He cries when put down at bedtime and for naps instead of just falling asleep on his own like he used to. He doesn’t have any (bad) sleep associations, just a little wind-down routine of books, prayer, song, white noise. It used be great to be able to put him down and walk out and he would fall asleep in a few minutes. Any suggestions or insights? Is this just a regression? Separation anxiety? We end up having to cuddle or rock him to sleep now which is so frustrating bc I feel like we are undoing all the hard work we did in teaching him to sleep on his own. He’s taking awhile to fall asleep even with us helping him. But once he is asleep, he doesn’t wake the rest of the night, maybe once in the early morning for a feed. I’d appreciate any insight on this. Thanks!

  25. My 9.5 month old had been sleeping through the night for the most part from 7:30- 5:30; however, in the last 3 weeks she has been waking up multiple times crying. She will almost instantly fall asleep in our arms but when we put her back in her crib she instantly wakes up. We have tried rocking/feeding/changing/teething tablets/music and nothing makes the process quicker. It takes on average 3 times to get her to stay in her crib. Usually around 3:30-4 she will not go back and we just let her sleep on us in rocker. Before she sometimes cry out but fell back to sleep without us. We put her to bed with a paci and without (sometimes she wants it others she doesn’t). Last night I’d been trying for two hours to get her back in her crib (she woke screaming every time) so I started to let her cry it out. My husband couldn’t take it and eventually got her calmed down and alseep after her hiccups subsided and on the second try. I don’t know what to do! We all need more sleep. She is also a sporadic napper doesn’t stay asleep long unless being held (even than not a guarantee). She will only scream until she has the hiccups/coughing starts etc if you try to put her to bed/nap while awake. Suggestions?

  26. So I have all your posts bookmarked and I read them like a bible. My 7.5 month old was a great sleeper until 12 weeks and it’s been downhill since then with a few good nights (waking once or twice) here and there. But it’s really bad now. She puts herself to sleep for naps and bedtime. She naps well 3x a day with wake times ranging from 2 hours in the morning to 3 hours at the end of the day. She is not nursed to sleep ever and has no props and sleeps in her own room. So I cannot figure out why she is up all night crying! I nurse her 2x a night…min 5 hours for first feed and 3 hours for second. But she goes down in her crib after nursing and just keeps crying for hours in the middle of the night. Sometimes she will sleep for an hour or 2 before the crying starts. We can’t settle her in her crib at all and cio is not working. I know she would settle if we brought her into bed but I know that won’t solve anything so I don’t. I don’t think it’s teething or pain because she naps well and is a really happy baby all day. What am I doing wrong? Could this be the 8 month regression come early?

    • I know you wrote this a while ago, but in case you get notified of responses…did sleep improve on its own? My almost 8 month old has started similar behavior and we are confused and sooooooo tired.

  27. Not sure if you knew, but your link to Ask Moxie is broken — here’s the Wayback Machine copy:

  28. So there is a such thing as 6-month sleep regression? She has always gotten up once per night to eat…now its 2 or 3 times…fussing, and she will eat once or twice, but mostly puts my boob in her mouth (obviously comfort). But if she sleeps next to me, she sleeps well.
    What in the world?

  29. So, here’s the thing. For naps, I put my 3.5 month old down awake. He gets swaddled, a little song, and his paci. A few pats. I leave. In 10 minutes I check on him, he’s asleep. Yay. Sometimes his naps are great, sometimes they’re crap. Se la vie. But naps aren’t my issue – bedtime is.

    Before bedtime, he gets a bath, then a book, then he nurses. He always falls asleep while nursing. I try to add another step to the routine so he’ll wake up a little bit, but then he won’t go to sleep. Like he freaks out and fights it. So of course, now I nurse him to sleep. I know this won’t work for much longer – what do I do?? Help!

  30. Maybe just re-order the routine – nursing, bath, book. Often I “top him off” right before I put him down after all this, but not to the point of sleep.

    • That’s s good idea!! I’ll try it out tonight and see. Thank you! Ps I’ve been reading this site since before I had a baby and it’s my sleep bible. I swear it’s the only reason my baby sleeps at all and can go down for naps!!

  31. So here’s my question: we are working on putting our 3.5 month old down for bedtime awake. But he’s too young for CIO (in my opinion but what do I know!)

    So if he’s not falling asleep when I put him down awake and he’s crying, and I’m not doing CIO, how do I avoid rocking or shushing or patting him to sleep? I don’t get it.

  32. Hi Alexis,

    Fingers crossed you see this and respond. Thank you for your website! At 1.5 months or so my daughter slept 8+hrs straight (example couple wks ago: 8:45pm to 6am). She is now 3 months. For last week and a half/two wks she’s woken more and more through night nursing quite heavily, I believe it’s a growth spurt/regression. Tonight she’s literally woken every 2-3hrs, having difficulty figuring out if she actually needs to nurse still or if spurt is over and it’s a sleep association problem that has started. From what I’ve read, most growth spurts only last couple days to a week, I just don’t want to not feed her if she’s truly hungry, but we’re approaching 2wks now.

    She’s put in crib awake for naps with pacifier and naps anywhere from 45 min to 2.5hrs. Bedtime is 8:15pm and sleeps in bassinet by bed. She’s put in bed very drowsy or sometimes asleep from last nursing, no pacifier, continuous white noise. I try to make final nap end no later than 6pm before 8:15pm bedtime. She’s VERY tired/falling asleep before bedtime so I’ve been moving bedtime earlier each night by 5 minutes.

    Any advice to get back on track? Should I still nurse each time she wakes at night? She takes many solid naps during day, should I try to consolidate? My plan thus far is earlier bedtime and put to bed awake like I do for naps and try to move her night sleep to crib as well.

    Thank you!


    • I would try a few things:
      – Maybe bump up the soothing at bedtime. She may be too old for swaddling (it may frustrate more than help at this age) but possibly experiment with swaddling or, if you have one, the merlin sleep suit.
      – Make sure she’s awake LONG enough before bed. ~2 hours?
      – See if anything changes if you move from “mostly asleep or fully asleep” at bedtime to “all the way awake.” That’s a quick test to see if you have a sleep association issue.

      She’s young yet so I’m inclined to think it’s not a sleep association but something else: habit, not enough soothing, not eating enough during the day (long naps are awesome AS LONG AS she’s still eating enough to not be hungry at night!). But try those three changes and see what shakes out before sweating her daytime eating schedule!

      • Wow, I can’t believe you replied, thank you so much! She is swaddled in halo swaddle which as you mentioned may be too much, (sometimes I think I may hear her straining against it at night). I will buy the Merlin sleep suit today.

        Yesterday she napped total of 3.5hrs: 2hr nap, 1hr nap and 30 min nap. She usually naps a little more than that. Her last nap ended at 5:25pm and she was asleep by 8:25pm. She woke approx every three hrs…I tried giving her pacifier/shhhing couple times before picking her up….11:30pm (nursed), 3ish (nursed), 6:30 (barely ate)…then catnapped until 7:45amish and was incredibly incredibly fussy/inconsolable/overtired/wouldn’t eat and is now napping again. Her waking up unhappy still tired is a new trend. I do see she’s eating less during day now that she’s up so much eating at night.

        I will try to implement your suggestions. Can’t say how much I appreciate your reply, I don’t have anyone to run these things by, makes me feel a little less of an island. Thank you again!

        • Hi Alexis,

          Hoping you might share another moment of your time…It has been a month and while there was some initial improvement things have gone down hill. My daughter is now 4 mos and 1 week old. I have her in the Merlin suit – she seems to like it and visibly relaxes when I put her in it. I’m afraid though she is now waking almost hourly – last night every 50 minutes. Her last nap ends between 4:15-4:30pm and she falls asleep for the night between 6:45-7pm (awake approx 2.5hrs before bed). I nurse her then put her in her Merlin suit. Her eyes are open when I put her in her crib and she is able to fall asleep on her own but w/pacifier. It’s more common now for her to wake up at 8 or 9pm during what used to be her most solid stretch of sleep (7-10:30pm). I’ve tried dream feeding at 10pm as she always wakes up at 10:30pmish. Feeding her used to buy me 2-3hrs but now she just wakes up hourly. I’ve been trying to feed her just twice a night (10pm and around 1 or 2am) as she doesn’t seem that famished at her 1/2am feeding, for her other awakenings we just put her pacifier back in and make shhhing sounds as breifly as possible – for the most part it works and she goes back to sleep, but I am now doing this every single hour of the night/morning. She isn’t able to get through her sleep cycles and move to the next one independently. Her room is completely dark, I have continuous loud white noise, she is able to fall asleep independently for daytime naps (has been getting a little harder lately) and takes 3-4 naps per day, no more than 50 minutes long.

          Any advice greatly appreciated. I’ve scoured the internet and am not sure what I’m doing wrong.



          • Hi Lynn,
            We went thru this when our baby was 3.5-4 months old. It was exactly as you described- waking up almost every hour overnight. It was a terrible terrible sleep regression (I still die a little inside when I remember it)! I would alternate between nursing back to sleep or pacifier/rocking. It lasted about two weeks for us. And then suddenly, it just stopped. He started sleeping thru the night again. Once things calmed down is when we started experimenting with putting him down to sleep awake, prior to that, he was being rocked to sleep at bedtime. Are you working during the day or at home? can you nap when she naps to get thru this phase? Does she sleep in the swing at all? Maybe you can try the swing overnight (without the merlin suit tho). Good luck!!

            • I’m afraid we’re going on week 6 of this and its feeling like it’s not going to improve on its own. ๐Ÿ™ the growth spurt that kicked it off when she was 12 wks is over, as are the crazy feedings, daytime extreme fussiness, etc. She’s back to “normal” except for sleep. Starting to feel like it’s now a habit for her…I don’t know. Feeling hopeless and so tired. ๐Ÿ™

  33. I really disagree with you. The wondwr weeks is an excellent book and has way more information than what you say is just “growth spurts and at particular said weeks”. And just to clarify they are not growth spurts. They are developmental milestones- neurolofical development as opposed to physical growth ( growth spurt). Maybe you ahould re-read the book.

  34. Hi Alexis,
    I wrote to you about 8 months ago when my daughter was going through some kind of weird sleep set-back. We all survived it with a Few nights of CIO and she was back on track. Fast forward to last Thursday when she woke up crying several times during the night. I went in to see what was wrong because she literally NEVER wakes during the night and ended up rocking her to sleep for a few minutes. We thought it was because she was getting a cold, but here we are 10 days later and each day has been worse than the one before. Not only is she waking for what has become hours during the night but she has stopped napping altogether. She literally stands in her crib and cries for an hour at nap time. After that first night, I had not gone in to soothe her until last night, which was a doozy. She woke at 2:45 am and proceeded to cry until 4:45, when I could no longer take it and I went in because I had to get up for work. Not only will she not go to sleep, she will not lay down. I watch her stand at the edge of her crib and literally fall asleep standing up, until she falls over, wakes up, and stands to scream some more. She turned 2 on Saturday, she had her 2 year checkup a week ago, and she seems perfectly healthy. Is this a sleep regression? It is so unlike her- we have been in sleep bliss (mostly) since she was 7 months old! She slept from 7:30-6/6:30 every day. If we don’t get some sleep soon I don’t know what we will do!

  35. Hello, my 4 month old seemed to hit this regression right on time. Prior to this, he would sleep very well at night, needing to nurse only once in the 11 hours he was in bed (from between 7-8pm until between 6-7am). For a week, starting just before 4 months old, he woke up every couple of hours and needed to be rocked or nursed back to sleep at night.

    We have seen a big improvement by itself in his night sleep; he is now back to waking only once at night. However, he will not go to sleep by himself – he needs to be nursed and/or rocked. Naps are worse; he fights sleep and will often not go to sleep unless in his Ergo carrier, which I have been using for every nap to keep him from getting overtired. Sometimes I can nurse him to sleep and transfer him to his crib, but he will sleep for 30 minutes maximum in there.

    There was a short time in which we could put him in his crib at night awake, but close to sleep, and have him go to sleep on his own, but he is unwilling to do that now. I am nervous that his night wakings are going to come back, since he is always snuck into his bed at night, and my husband and I would like to teach him to go to sleep on his own. However, we do not want to let him cry too much. Each time we try to take a gentle approach, getting him close to sleep and then putting him down barely awake, fussing escalates into full-blown crying/screaming very quickly. We are unable to console him with just a hand on him, or patting, he wants to be held and rocked. We have a consistent bedtime routine.

    I guess my question is, should we wait to coach him to sleep on his own until he gets a bit more mature? Or should we be prepared to deal with very hard crying? We would like to avoid the crying; however don’t want to make it worse by waiting until he is older. We did let him cry himself to sleep once, and he cried for 2 bouts of 4 minutes each before he was asleep. I do not think this is very much crying, but it was distressing and we would like to avoid it. Fussing is OK, but unfortunately our son gets hysterical almost right away. Thanks in advance for your advice!

    • Hi Rebecca,
      I realize your post is nearly 8 months old now, but your conundrum sounds exactly like what I’m struggling with right now. I’d love to hear what you ended up doing and how things turned out with your little man. Hopefully a happy (and sleep-filled!) ending!

      I always try the least amount of soothing to get my little guy to sleep and he was starting to coo himself to sleep on occasion, but over the past 10 days it’s gotten progressively worse to where I broke my rule and nursed him to sleep about every 2 hours last night because nothing else worked. I’m struggling with at what point does “do what you gotta do” turn into creating a monster sleep association? Any words of advice/encouragement would be so welcome in my sleep-deprived state!

      • Hi Allison,

        I’m sorry for the late reply. I hope it’s gotten better by now! Our little guy did need some pretty consistent coaching to sleep well, he didn’t emerge from the regression a great sleeper by himself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        He did however stop waking up every 2 hours on his own, and started waking up a couple of times a night to nurse. Around 7 months I started nursing him until he was almost asleep, then putting him down in his bed awake. I stayed with him until he fell asleep, and he still woke up at night. Around 8 months we consulted with Alexis privately and followed her advice which was to let Dad put him to bed after nursing, and ignore his first wake up (a few hours after going to bed). He started sleeping through in just a few nights!

        He’s over 1 now and his dad still stays in the room with him until he falls asleep. When he wakes in the night, one of us goes into soothe him in his bed. We haven’t been really firm with extinction and always go to him, but as he’s gotten older his sleep has improved markedly. We didn’t ever follow any advice consistently, and he’d probably be a more consistent sleep through the nighter if we had, but we did what we were comfortable with and he caught on. For sure I found that sleep and everything else got much easier as he got older. But we did have a consultation with Alexis in the meantime to help get the confidence to push him a little harder toward sleep independence! Good luck to you and all the best!

        • Also, doing what ‘you gotta do’ is ok-babies are so adaptable and yours will get it when you’re ready. You won’t be creating a long-term sleep monster at this young age!

  36. My baby boy just turned 4 months old on the 27th. He has been sleeping thru the night 8:30pm – 6:30am for over a month now. Four days ago, he has starting waking up at 1:30am and then every 45-50 minutes after that until 6:30am. I am FREAKING out. I read that sleep regressions never go away. I am petrified this is our new routine. Please help!

    • Hi! Just wanted to give you some encouragement and hope. My now 14 month old went thru a TERRIBLE 4 month sleep regression. He would wake up every hour all night long. We just stuck it out, hoping he would get over this regression, and he did! All of a sudden, one night he slept much longer before waking. So don’t lose hope! It lasted 3-4 weeks I believe, it may not last as long for you. Do what you can to get him to sleep- will he sleep in the swing? swaddled? magic sleepsuit? Work with your partner to take turns so you guys can get some sleep and stay sane- something I didn’t do, but should have. Good luck!

  37. Hi, Alexis – You’ve got a great blog here. I’ve referenced it many times. I would just love to know what your opinion is on my 5.5mo’s recent night wakings. She slept through the night at just 4 weeks (waking her to feed), has put herself to sleep independently from the beginning, and she’s been an almost-silent sleeper most nights since then… until 3ish weeks ago. At that point, numerous wakeups began at night, mostly at 1ish and 3ish am and then the early waking between 5 and 6am when I always previously had to wake her at 7pm. I changed her schedule, including allowing her an earlier wakeup time, and that worked for 2 nights. She is rolling and in a leap, though not one of the major ones you mention; she is not ill or teething, not hungry and doesn’t need my help going back to sleep. Schedule before this mess at 4-4.5mo: wu 7, (WT 1.5) nap 845-1015, (WT 2) nap 1215-215, (WT 1.5) nap 345-415, (WT 2) bt 630 for a total of 16.5hrs. Schedule now: wu 615, (WT 2.25) nap 830-930, (WT 2.25) nap 1145-145, (WT 2.25) nap 4-430, (WT 1.75) bt 615 for a total of 15.5hrs. Thanks for your opinion!

  38. Hi! My bub will be six months old in just over a week. From about 3 weeks to 4 months she was an amazing sleeper. We would give her her last feed at about 10.30 pm and she would sleep through until 7 am without fail. Most of the time she would have a dummy but once it fell out she would stay asleep. No other form of settling was needed and she would always go down by herself. From 4 months she started waking multiple times a night. We try to give her the dummy and she sometimes takes it but sometimes purses her lips together and won’t. This also happens when I offer her the breast. Sometimes throughout the night it works, others it doesnt. Patting, rocking etc doesnt work at all and she escalates. At the same time she is teething in 3 different parts of her gum but this is happening slowly and nothing seems to have pushed through yet. At times bonjella helps settle her, others it won’t and our community health nurse has recommended avoiding using it. During the day hep naps are like clock work and she goes down perfectly. Not always for the full time but at least an hour to 90 minutes at a time. We have tried taking her arms out (no longer swaddled), putting her in her cot instead of bassinet, more milk and introducing solids but nothing has changed. We are now exploring sleep school but would prefer to avoid this if possible. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks so much ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. Hi Alexis,

    My 8 month was sleeping through the night up she was 7 months old. She caught a cold and started to wake up a couple time through the night. Then she started to cut two tooth and she’s waking up 4-5 times a night. Now the tooth has popped out and she is not 8 month and 1 weeks. She is still wake up 4-5 times night just for comfort. What is happening?

    • Exact same thing with my boy! After reading this I am going to try feed him more during the day and hope he grows out of the regression or growth spurt soon.

  40. Hello! Thanks for this. I have a 9 month old baby boy and he has been attached to me during the day and waking numerous times at night. Before he would wake up once and fall back asleep easily after feeding. He had his first two teeth coming out about a month ago but he is gowing through a regression now. I though I was doing something wrong, but reading this and so many comments reassured me and gave me hope lol. Im going back to work and my daughter is going back to school in a couple of weeks so we are going to need our sleep.


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