Regressions are a key part of development in children

It can be frustrating but worry not, the child shall overcome

In Summary

•  These short-lived setbacks are some of the worst times in parenting for us adults

A young boy
A young boy


Our son was the poster child for sleep regression. This was long before I knew what sleep regression was. His first ever three-month sleep regression was a dark time for me personally.

If ever I was to fall into the abyss of post-natal depression, that time would have been it. In fact, one of the many reasons I hired a nanny back then was to have ‘shifts’. With a sleep regressing baby, a parent needs all the help they can get and time to make up for sleep.

However, I quickly learnt that regression was not only reserved for sleep. With a two-and-a half-year-old now, I see the multiple areas of development attacked by regression.

Developmental regression in children is pretty normal and is often not cause for concern, although there are some special cases that require medical intervention. For most children, regression simply means to go backwards on the developmental graph.

For instance, eating, sleeping, walking and talking. Babies, as well as toddlers, go through periods of regression. These periods are often short-lived in babies and tots but some of the worst times in parenting for us adults.

Regression occurs during certain times of developmental or growth milestones. For instance, most sleep regression takes place during the teething times. However, external factors, such as a change in environment, a new baby or a divorce, can escalate regression. The last one might seem like an overkill, but I have seen first-hand how tension between parents affects the child’s mood.

My son would have great periods of advancement and progress as he grows, then wham! One week of the flu and the parent gets served a ‘Go Back to Start’ card. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

As parents, we feel rewarded when we watch our children advancing and outgrowing or growing into certain phases. It’s our light at the end of the tunnel.

But as a parent who has had to deal with these ‘reverse instances’ way too much in the past two plus years, I have come to the greater understanding that these moments don't last very long.

We don’t need to feel frustrated with the loss of progress as an even bigger developmental curve is right around the corner. So let your baby express himself freely. Let him take up all the space on your bed, and let him have his picky eating moments. I guarantee that in a few weeks, you will be looking at a completely different baby.

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