5 month sleep regression: Myth or real?

Updated Jun 04, 2024
5 month sleep regression: Myth or real? | Huckleberry

Does it feel like every time you turn around it seems like you’re clamoring to figure out why your baby isn’t sleeping well… again? Is it a 5 month sleep regression? Is it teething? Is it the moon?! In all seriousness, we understand that baby sleep issues are tricky to navigate. At 5 months it’s not uncommon for your little one to still be experiencing short naps and overnight wakes, even if you’re doing everything “right.” 

In this article, we’ll help you spot sleep regression signs, give you tips for handling nap regressions, and give you resources for helping your child learn to sleep independently and begin to be able to link sleep cycles on their own, which can lead to improved sleep.

If you’re looking for a little extra support in the sleep department, whether or not your little one is in a sleep regression, consider submitting for a sleep plan through Huckleberry Premium. Our step-by-step plans are tailored to help your child’s sleep get back on track plus you’ll get access to our SweetSpot sleep predictor that notifies you when it’s likely time for them to sleep after an age-appropriate wake window.


Is there a 5 month old sleep regression?

Why do 5 month old babies have sleep issues?

My 5 month old won’t nap so is this a sleep regression?

How long do 5 month sleep problems last?

How can I tell if it's teething or 5-month sleep problems?

4 tips to handle 5 month old sleep issues

5 month sleep regression FAQ

While you may have heard that sleep regressions happen at predetermined ages, it’s a little more complicated than that because sleep is impacted by so many factors. Instead, we define a “sleep regression” as a sudden, significant worsening of sleep patterns. This can happen at any age and may look like fighting sleep, short naps, increased waking overnight, etc. when your little one had been sleeping well previously. 

It’s possible that your 5 month old is still experiencing sleep issues after their sleep cycles and stages change around 3-4 months. The “4 month sleep regression” occurs when a little one’s sleep architecture matures and they begin to sleep in stages of light and deep sleep, similar to an adult. After this, it’s common to see short naps and more frequent wakings overnight. 

If your little one is still experiencing short naps and overnight wakes, rest assured this is common at 5 months. It’s not just your baby! It can take time (and practice) for your baby to learn to link sleep cycles after their sleep matures at around 4 months. There are ways to help your child learn to fall asleep independently that may help with sleep issues at 5 months, and we’re here to help

When your baby is working on new, exciting developmental milestones this can temporarily disrupt sleep [1]. At 5 months, your little one is likely rolling from front to back or back to front — or maybe both! This new mobility is a big change and it may take a few weeks for your baby to adjust so they can go back to focusing on sleep instead of their new skill. 

If your 5 month old is fighting sleep and you’ve ruled out factors like overtiredness, they may be ready for longer wake windows instead. Try to increase the amount of time they’re awake to 2 - 2.5 hours to see if this helps lengthen naps and get sleep back on track.   

On the other hand, if your baby is napping “too much” this can interfere with upcoming naps and overnight sleep. We recommend limiting individual naps to 1.5 - 2 hours, and total day sleep to 3 - 4 hours) for this reason. Most babies sleep best with 3 - 4 naps daily naps at this age.

Illnesses, teething, and general discomfort can wreak havoc on baby sleep! A good way to tell if your kiddo is uncomfortable or in pain is if they wake up mid-cycle overnight (meaning they wake sooner than 40 - 50 minutes after falling asleep).

“Sleep regression” is a term that commonly refers to a sudden decline in sleep habits, which can certainly happen during the day. Short naps and refusing daytime sleep at this age is often due to needing a schedule adjustment. You might try lengthening wake windows to 2 - 2.5 hours to see if that helps lengthen your 5 month old’s naps. 

Overall naps can still be tricky (and short!) at 5 months if your baby isn’t able to link sleep cycles independently yet. Babies who fall asleep on their own, without parental support, are more likely to have longer naps. However, it’s still common and age-appropriate to have a daily catnap until the third nap is dropped (typically by 8 - 9 months old).

If you’re rocking, feeding, or otherwise helping your baby to sleep regularly, this sleep onset association may be contributing to short naps and overnight waking. Of course, there’s nothing “wrong” with helping your little one to sleep — sleepy snuggles are so precious. However, if your goal is to have your baby sleep for longer stretches of time during naps (and at night), you may consider teaching them to fall asleep independently instead. 

You may be frantically Googling, “How long does a 5 month sleep regression last?” However, this depends on the cause and the strategies you’re using to get sleep back on track. For example, if a child’s sleep issues are caused by the mastery of a new milestone, then nighttime sleep may be impacted for a couple of weeks and subside after the initial excitement of practicing rolling passes. On the other hand, if a child’s sleep has worsened due to a sleep onset association, sleep may not significantly improve without changing the way they fall asleep. 

While there isn’t a prescribed start date for most sleep regressions, here are some sleep regression signs that may be happening at 5 months:

  • Night sleep is suddenly worse

  • Baby is fussy during sleep times and has difficulty settling down

  • Naps are shorter and baby is sleeping less during the day 

Just like there’s not a definite start date for sleep regressions in 5 month olds, there’s not a cut-and-dry end date either. If the regression is sparked by an illness or developmental milestone, you might expect a short period of disrupted sleep. If your baby isn’t falling asleep independently or linking sleep cycles on their own yet and then experiences new sleep challenges, you may find that this period of rough sleep lasts longer — weeks or months, depending on a variety of factors

IssueSymptomsTypical durationWays to manage
Neurodevelopmental maturation (Aka “4 month sleep regression”)Sudden increase in night waking, short naps, fussiness around sleepVariesContinue to encourage independent sleep habits
TeethingDrooling, chewing on objects, mild irritabilityAbout a weekTry to stick to normal bedtime routine as much as possible, offer extra comfort
Separation anxietyUpset when parting ways, even briefly; Uncommon at this ageVariesCreate goodbye rituals. On difficult days, keep transitions short and consistent.
IllnessDiscomfort, new sleep struggles, waking mid-sleep cycle (less than 40 minutes of sleep)VariesOffer comfort, consult pediatrician regarding medication or other intervention
Need for schedule adjustmentFighting sleep, short napsRequires adjustment before resolvingConsider increasing wake window or dropping a nap if age-appropriate
Developmental milestonesNew fussiness around sleep, preference for practicing new skillsFew weeksEncourage baby to practice new skills during wake times

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics [2], children may get their first tooth as early as 3 months, though many babies get their first chomper closer to 6 months. If you suspect your infant is teething at 5 months, it’s very possible! A study [3] found that teething symptoms tend to occur over 8 days: 4 days before a tooth emerges, the day the tooth pops through the gum, and the 3 days following it. 

Teething can cause sleep disruptions temporarily but note that it’s not as simple as your baby is either teething or going through a sleep regression. Instead, teething is one of many factors that can impact sleep at this age. 

Getting nap times “right” can be difficult, especially in these early months. You want to be sure your little one is tired enough to sleep, but if they cross into overtired territory, this can lead to more crying at bedtime, short naps, and more frequent night waking. Following an age-appropriate sleep schedule based on wake windows can be a good way to prevent overtiredness and set your little one up for success when it comes to sleep. 

For instance, if your child is taking 4 naps per day at 5 months, you’d expect 1.5 - 2.5 hours of awake time between naps or before bedtime. Once they drop a nap and take 3 per day, wake windows typically increase to 2 - 3 hours.  

If you haven’t already, try setting up your child’s sleep space to be dark at night and during the day. There are tons of products on the market for doing this: blackout curtains, blackout shades, and blackout blinds, for starters. These options are great because if a room is too light, a baby may get distracted and fully wake up when they briefly rouse after one sleep cycle, instead of drifting off to sleep again. 

Also, try using background noise (usually in the form of white/pink noise). Sound machines are great at muffling household noise, especially during the day, which can help your baby get in good naps.   

Some days sleep is just hard! We get it. If your little one has taken, especially short naps or skipped a nap for whatever reason — teething, illness, schedule changes, etc. — consider moving your kiddo’s bedtime earlier that day. Overtiredness can lead to even more sleep challenges at night, so try moving their bedtime routine 15 - 30 minutes earlier than normal. 

If you’re considering sleep training at 5 months to help your child learn the skill of self-soothing, there are many methods available. Some are more gradual and aim to reduce crying, while others can work faster and may involve more tears. 

Note that sleep training results can vary at 5 months. If a baby already has established sleep routines, you may find they respond well to sleep training. Other babies may need more time to develop their own sleep patterns. Every baby is different and it’s important to pick a method that aligns with your baby’s needs as well as your family’s goals. The important part is helping your baby learn how to fall asleep with less of your help if that’s your objective!

5 month sleep regression FAQ

Q: Can sleep regression happen at 5 months?


Sleep regressions can happen at any age. At around 4 months, babies have their first big developmental growth spurt where there’s a biological alteration in the way they sleep. This is usually called the “4 month sleep regression.” Around this age, it’s common to see more night wakings and short naps as a result. While the change typically happens between 3 - 4 months, your child’s sleep may still be disrupted at 5 months, making it seem like another regression.

Q: Do all babies have sleep problems at 5 months?


While sleep difficulties at 5 months are very common, not all babies will have trouble sleeping at this age. Babies who are able to fall asleep independently at 5 months are usually able to link their sleep cycles, resulting in longer naps and stretches of overnight rest. Don’t fret if your little one isn’t there quite yet — if you’re feeling stuck we can help you create a step-by-step sleep plan that’s tailored to your baby and your parenting style.

Q: Why is a 5 month old baby not sleeping?


There are plenty of factors that can impact a baby’s sleep at 5 months (and beyond!). These can include: - Neurodevelopmental maturation (the “4 month sleep regression”) - Sleep-onset associations (rocking, feeding, holding your baby to sleep) - Illness - Teething - Changes in routine (travel etc.) - The need for a schedule adjustment

Q: Should I change the feeding schedule of a 5 month baby with sleep problems?


If you suspect that your child is waking frequently from naps because they’re hungry, it might be worthwhile to evaluate their feeding schedule. If you’ve been following an eat-play-sleep schedule, you may consider switching this up and feeding your baby closer to the time that they’re due for a nap. When it comes to night sleep, some babies still need 1 - 2 feeds during the night at 5 months. If your kiddo is waking up more frequently than this, you could try offering a longer feed before their bedtime, dream feed before your bedtime, and/or evaluate whether the wakes are due to hunger or a sleep-onset association. Note that it’s best to consult with your child’s pediatrician or a lactation consultant before dropping night feeds.

Q: Can babies have nightmares at 5 months?


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics [4], children usually start having nightmares at around 6 months old so it may be unlikely that your 5 month old is waking due to nightmares. Instead, babies at this age often cry out in their sleep for other reasons such as overtiredness, hunger, and discomfort, or they may simply be transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next.

Q: 5 month old baby won't sleep unless held. What should I do?


It’s important to consider safe practices when it comes to helping your child sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics [5] recommends that caregivers avoid sleeping with babies on armchairs or couches. Instead, infants should be placed on their backs to sleep in their own space. If you’re looking to make a change and want your child to learn to fall asleep independently, there are lots of sleep training options to help accomplish those goals, ranging from gradual, gentle methods to faster, more intense techniques. After considering your baby’s overall health and development, choose a method, make sure your little one has plenty of opportunities to practice falling asleep independently and try to set realistic expectations. Some babies won’t be able to fully master this skill until at least 6 months old. If you’d like a little extra help in the sleep department, consider submitting for a personalized, step-by-step sleep plan through Huckleberry Premium.

Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.

5 Sources


  1. M, Macknin, et al. (2000). Symptoms associated with infant teething: a prospective study. Pediatrics. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10742315/

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics (2023). Nightmares, Night Terrors & Sleepwalking in Children: How Parents Can Help. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Nightmares-and-Night-Terrors.aspx?psafe_param=1

  3. American Academy of Pediatrics (2024). Safe Sleep. https://www.aap.org/en/patient-care/safe-sleep/