Sleep regressions can be very frustrating to deal with. Either 1) your baby was sleeping well and then all of a sudden begins waking up in the night or 2) your babe has always had a difficult time sleeping through the night, and is now sleeping even worse! Both situations can feel extremely challenging to deal with, and rightfully so! This sudden change with your baby’s sleep may leave you feeling confused and exhausted. So let’s take a look at the term “sleep regression” to better understand what is going on!
Basically, a sleep regression is a period of time usually lasting between 1-4 weeks, where a baby or child begins to wake more frequently in the night, has difficulty falling asleep at bedtime and/or refuses to nap, for no obvious reason. It can often feel especially surprising for parents, who previously had a great little sleeper but is now all of a sudden waking in the night!
There are a number of sleep regressions that we commonly see in the first two years of life. Remember, every baby is different and some babies may experience these regressions earlier or later than others. Some may even skip a sleep regression all together (lucky family!) If a “regression” lasts for months and months though, it’s possible this is more of a sleep habit that needs attention rather than a regression that will pass. In general though, there are 5 common sleep regressions to become familiar with:
Age: 4 Months
Why? Sleep patterns begin to follow the 24 hour clock, production of melatonin and cortisol (effected by light and dark), increasingly aware of their surroundings and more alert (sleep is more similar to that of an adult, rather than newborn).
Age: 8-10 Months
Why? Physical developmental milestones such as scooting, crawling, pulling up, increasingly verbal, possible teething.
Age: 12 Months
Why? Less common, usually impacting naps, refusing to take 2nd nap- treat this as a regression rather than readiness for 1 nap a day (babies drop to 1 nap around 15-18 months).
Age: 18 Months
Why? New found independence, walking, talking, tantrum-throwing, separation anxiety, possible teething.
Age: 2 years
Why? Transition to longer wake times in the day, potty training, new sibling, nightmares, testing boundaries.
Tips on how to handle sleep regressions:
Growth spurts can be associated with these sleep regressions, so for the time being feel free to offer your little one some extra nourishment before bed or even add an extra feed into the day.
I always recommend an early bedtime to all my clients, but it may be especially helpful when you’re facing a sleep regression. If your baby is waking in the night or refusing to nap, it is likely they are over-tired or even sleep-depriced, so getting them in bed a little earlier may help them have a smoother more peaceful night.
Comfort and reassure your bub but try to not introduce any new habits that your little one will begin to rely on to fall back to sleep upon waking. If we begin to always put baby back to sleep by rocking, bouncing, nursing, bottle feeding etc, your little peanut will end up needing these same actions in order to fall asleep time and time again for every night waking. Try some basic “shhing” or patting to calm your baby rather than responding with feedings or boucning.
Remember that expression: this too shall pass! Hang in there and remember that everything is temporary. Sometimes it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and your current situation feels like it will last forever. It won’t. If you need additional support and would like 1-on-1 guidance, email me today.