Why sleep regression is a dirty word

Kinderling News & Features

Ever noticed how every time your baby’s sleep patterns change even a little bit, someone is quick to blame it on the dreaded “sleep regression”.

Four months, six months, 12 months or 18 months ... and everything in between.

And while most people who use that phrase have good intentions, it can often leave you feeling deflated.  

It makes you feel like you've done something 'wrong'

There’s a good reason for that, according to Kinderling Helpline go-to expert, Chris Minogue.

“It’s not regression, it’s a change in sleep behaviour,” Chris told Kinderling. “In fact, in our training as child health nurses, we’re never taught about regression because babies simply don’t go backwards, they’re always moving forward.”

“The term regression has such negative connotations. My feeling is that it puts even greater pressure on parents. What we need is a positive message about sleep awareness. Because in 30 years of doing this work, I’ve known about 10 babies that slept well during their first year of life.”

A convincing point of view, wouldn’t you say?

Listen to Chris on Kinderling Helpline:

Chris Minouge's top 3 tips for tackling baby sleep changes

But there’s no need to panic. According to Chris, all changes in baby’s behaviour, especially around sleep, are signs of development – not setback.

At the first sign of a significant change in your baby’s sleep pattern, Chris suggests you consider the following:

  1. Ask yourself where your baby is at in terms of their development and overall sleep needs. It’s equally as possible that your baby is getting too much day sleep, as too little.

  2. Look at your child's nap times and bedtimes: are you putting them down too early or too late? Babies have recommended awake times and nap duration periods. As they grow, these times change – so must their routine. 

  3. Remember: Across the first year there are usually lots of opportunities/instances to relearn how to sleep and/or resettle. It’s a normal part of the process.