How to survive a baby sleep regression

  • Ergobaby
  • Jun 11, 2024
Sleep regression

We caught up with our baby sleep specialist Gemma Coe to find out everything you need to know about the dreaded sleep regressions…

Understandably the term ‘sleep regression’ may make you a little cautious! Baby sleep is rarely linear and there will be peaks and troughs throughout their life, especially in the first year. However, there are certain time windows where we can predict changes in patterns to how your little one sleeps. These are often called a sleep regression. However, they don’t happen on exactly the anniversary of a certain date, so please don’t worry about approaching the four- or eight-month mark! 

Understanding the 4 month sleep regression

It typically hits between three to five-months, and for premature babies, it syncs with their adjusted age. Whether your baby’s sleep was previously amazing, or a little bit rocky, this regression can certainly mess with days and nights.

What are signs of 4 month sleep regression?

Your baby might:

  • wake more often at night without an apparent reason
  • become more alert during the day
  • struggle to settle in unfamiliar environments
  • not fall asleep as easily as before
  • take shorter naps
  • increase the frequency or duration of night wakes

The science behind the 4 month sleep regression

Contrary to its name, the 4 month sleep regression isn’t a step backwards; it’s a significant leap forward in baby sleep development. 

In the newborn stage, babies don’t experience distinct sleep cycles like adults. Instead, they drift in and out of sleep without much pattern. Factors like discomfort or hunger often dictate their sleep patterns. This results in sporadic sleep stretches – often anything from 10 minutes to hours!

However, around the 4-month mark, babies begin to adopt more adult-like sleep cycles, lasting around 45 minutes to an hour. These cycles consist of Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep stages. At the end of each cycle, they experience a partial waking, much like adults do. Often, if everything is as it was when they fell asleep, they fall back to sleep and ‘connect sleep cycles’.

Here’s where things get tricky: if your baby relies on external sleep associations like rocking or feeding to fall asleep, they might start to struggle to settle back at the end of a cycle without the same associations.

Seven tips to help get through the 4 month sleep regression

Here are seven tips to help get you through the other side of the 4 month sleep regression:

  1. Establish a consistent bedtime routine
  2. Monitor hunger cues
  3. Familiarise baby with their sleep space
  4. Optimise baby’s sleep environment
  5. Avoid overtiredness
  6. Use gradual methods to support the transition to more independent settling

You can read more about how to do these here.

How to survive a baby sleep regression

Understanding the 8 month sleep regression

The 8 month sleep regression typically occurs between seven and 10 months. You may notice your little one has difficulty getting to sleep and increased night wakings, often lasting for long periods (split nights). During this phase, you may find your 8-month-old is just not sleeping as well as previously, or your normal bedtime routine feels like it’s getting you nowhere!

Why does the 8 month sleep regression happen?

Several factors contribute to the 8 month sleep regression:

How long does 8 month old sleep regression last?

While the 8 month sleep regression may feel overwhelming, particularly if you struggled with the 4 month sleep regression, remember it’s temporary and will often be over in a few weeks.

Five tips to help you get through the 8 month sleep regression

  1. Offer a third nap when they need it and an earlier bedtime if it’s a two nap day
  2. Practice, practice, practice their new developmental skills in the day
  3. Allow for a longer wind down time at naptime and bedtime if needed
  4. Follow age-appropriate wake windows
  5. Extra cuddles for separation anxiety, but also lots of pop outs and peekaboo to help them trust you will always come back

In this situation? No problem!

So if your little one’s sleep all goes sideways around the four-month or eight-month mark then hopefully you won’t be too surprised, and will feel prepared! And at least you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that they are learning new skills and developing beautifully. And of course if your little love doesn’t seem to have any kind of sleep regression  then don’t worry, just count your lucky stars and enjoy the sleep!

About Gemma:

Gemma Coe is an award-winning Child Sleep Specialist based in Kent, UK. With a background in Health and Education, Gemma provides a fresh perspective on supporting families facing sleep challenges. In addition to her own sleep consultancy, Gemma is a Sleep Expert for Huckleberry and Ergobaby and has been featured in prominent media outlets such as The Sun, HuffPost, and Fabulous Magazine.



Blog’s featured Photo : Helena Lopes,