How to survive a sleep regression
It takes effort to sleep train your little bubs. You eventually get them into a solid routine where they have hours of uninterrupted sleep, and abracadabra, their good nighttime habits disappear.
During certain phases of development, your wee one’s sleep patterns can change rapidly without warning. Night time rhythms can be thrown off course for a few days to a few weeks, leaving you and your baby short on sleep. These backward steps are sleep regressions and they make it feel like you’ve brought your newborn home all over again.
Regular Sleep Patterns
What’s considered normal sleep for your little one depends on their specific needs. Every baby is different with their own unique sleep requirements. As they grow, they gradually need less and less sleep.
||Newborns only sleep one to two hours at a time. They sleep up to 14 hours at night and about four hours during the day.|
||Infants (two to 12 months) need about 12 hours of sleep at night and two to five more hours for naps.|
||Toddlers (between one to two years old) sleep between nine and twelve hours at night and only one or two hours during the day.|
Signs of a Sleep Regression
How do you know your little bub is going through a sleep regression? There are a few changes you may notice with your baby:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up more often through the night
- Daytime naps are longer and nighttime sleep is shorter
- Total sleep time is noticeably reduced
- They’re unhappy or seemingly inconsolable when they wake up
- Resisting bedtime and seemingly unable to relax and fall asleep in their crib
- Restless behaviour
- Crying out when mom and dad are too far away
- More prone to overstimulation before bed
- Teething disrupts sleep
When to Anticipate a Sleep Regression
Stock up on coffee, Mom and Dad; you’re likely to experience a few sleep regressions before your little one turns two. These regressions seem to happen in conjunction with developmental milestones.
Here’s when to expect a regression and the areas of growth that may play a part:
The Four - Month Sleep Regression
Your infant's transitioning away from their newborn sleep pattern, going through some fast physical growth, and experimenting with movement (rolling over, reaching out).
The Six - Month Sleep Regression
Your baby's starting to discover more around them; they respond to sound, they're trying to communicate with babble, they're experts at rolling, and they're starting to sit without help.
The Eight - Month Sleep Regression
Your baby's working on crawling and their growth, emotional development, and learning capability increase every day. Oh, and then there are the teeth that are starting to appear.
The Twelve - Month Sleep Regression
Your baby's entering toddlerhood. They don't stay babies very long, do they? Your little one has heightened cognitive skills, they're working on figuring out walking, and their emotional engagement and communication are getting stronger.
The Eighteen - Month Sleep Regression
This is around the time your little bub conquers walking without help, speaking real words, using cognitive skills, and deepening their emotional reactions and attachments.
Why do Sleep Regressions Happen?
Change is constant for babies and they have a lot to learn: how to react to their environment, the difference in day and night, feeding, and a ton of other developmental changes. A baby develops so quickly they form and link different parts of the brain and nervous system at such a fast pace that it creates temporary, unstable sleep patterns.
11 Tips to Survive a Sleep Regression
It takes time for babies to develop steady sleep patterns, but you can get through these regressions. Try these tips to foster good habits and restore sleep in your home:
1. Stick to a bedtime routine. Create a standard routine for bedtime to build cues for your baby to help them wind down and let them know it’s time to sleep.
2. Create a comfortable sleep environment. Dim the lights, take away distractions (looking at you, electronic devices), turn on white noise or stay quiet, and foster a calm environment.
3. Set a Sleep Schedule. Set a regular sleep schedule for nighttime sleep and daytime naps to build a positive sleep pattern.
4. Play all Day. Reinforce a distinction between day and night to adjust their internal clock – increased activity during the day helps baby associate playtime with daylight and learn that nighttime is for sleep.
5. Practice Self-Care. Take care of yourself so you can feel more rested when your baby goes through a sleep regression. Nap, take turns with the baby, and ask for help from family when you need a break.
6. Put your baby to bed drowsy but not fully asleep. Falling asleep in their crib helps them associate it with sleep.
7. Look for signs of sleepiness. Rubbing their eyes or being fussy indicates that you should start their bedtime routine.
8. Let them try to self-soothe during nighttime wakeups. Give them a minute or two before you comfort them to see if they can get themselves back to sleep.
9. Try to keep them in the crib. If they cry in the crib, try to calm them down with a soft voice and gentle back rub instead of picking them up.
10. Soothe the gums of teething babies. Use a cold, damp washcloth on their gums, let them have a teething toy for a few minutes, or give acetaminophen for serious teething pain (if approved by baby’s doctor).
11. Take some time apart from your baby. For babies that experience separation anxiety, take short periods through the day to be away from them so they’re more used to being without you at night. At bedtime, have a standard goodnight ritual to help them feel comforted before you leave the room.