Sleep regression

Baby Sleep Regressions: Signs, Sleep Training, and How to Survive

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Bringing a new life into the world is an exhilarating experience, full of joy, surprises, but also [of course], many sleepless nights. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on your little one’s sleep patterns, sleep regression might throw you a curveball, disrupting what precious rest you’ve managed to find. Don’t panic just yet; we’re here to guide you through the weary nights and help you survive baby sleep regressions.

First: What Is a Baby Sleep Regression?

Sleep regression is a period when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking up at night, being difficult at bedtime, or skipping naps. Sleep regressions can can feel like a sudden bolt from the blue – one week your baby is sleeping peacefully through the night, and the next, they’re waking up every hour. This is almost always because your baby’s brain is working on something else! They are expanding in one area, and regressing in another.

5 Common Signs of a Baby Sleep Regression:

For parents, recognizing the signs of sleep regression is vital in navigating a challenging phase. Here are some telltales:

  • Increased fussiness or crankiness during the day
  • Changes in appetite
  • Multiple night awakenings more than one night in a row
  • Resistance to naps or bedtime
  • Shortened sleep times

What Ages can I expect a baby sleep regression?

  • 4 months
    • Your baby is restructuring their sleep cycles and patterns and having a huge brain leap!
  • 8 months
    • Your baby might be learning new skills and gaining object permanence [and separation anxiety]
  • 12 months
    • Your baby is becoming more mobile and more aware of life around them
  • 15 months
    • Your baby is becoming more independent but also has another resurgence of separation anxiety!
  • 2 years
    • Your TODDLER is having a cognitive leap, along with a potentially physical leap out of the crib! Potty training, molars and fear of the dark can also come into play.

How long does a Sleep Regression last?

The actual sleep regression lasts 3-7 days. But sometimes in that timeframe they learn skills that can be long lasting and in an instance like the four month sleep regression, they might actually sleep differently after the regression.

How can I help my baby during a Sleep Regression?

It’s important to understand how long a regression is because when you are IN a regression…you want to do nothing. Ideally you respond to your baby as much in the same way you have been as possible. Try not to add in extra feedings overnight or hold your baby all night or completely change up the routine. If your baby gets used to being bounced on an exercise ball, even after the regression they’re going to expect the same royal sleepy time treatment! Highly recommend trying the Sleep Steps from Baby Care Classes.

5 Sleep Training Tips for parents sleep regression survival:

  1. Stick to your regular baby sleep routine: Consistency is key in teaching your child what to expect. Stick to your chosen bedtime and naptime schedule as closely as possible.
  2. Create a relaxing environment in your nursery: Make sure the sleep environment is conducive to rest. A dark, quiet, and cool room can help signify that it’s time to sleep.
  3. Offer Comfort: Your baby may need extra love during this time. Extra comfort can go a long way in easing anxiety that contributes to sleep regressions.
  4. Take Care of Yourself: Baby sleep regressions are exhausting. Try to rest when you can, eat well, and ask for help from family and friends. Make safe choices when operating heavy machinery [kidding…kind of].
  5. Consult Your Pediatrician: If you have concerns about your baby’s sleep habits or if you aren’t sure if something might be wrong with your baby, talk to your pediatrician.

Can I sleep train during a sleep regression?

It is unfortunately not a good idea to sleep train your baby during a regression. While it might feel like you are at your wits end, your baby is likely working through something and they aren’t keeping you up all night on purpose! Additionally, sometimes what parents think is a regression might actually be a growth spurt or an illness. Not being responsive to a baby’s physical needs [hunger or pain] can have long term detrimental effects on a child into adulthood.

If it has been a week and your child isn’t sick and they are still having sleep difficulties, then you might want to think about sleep training. The first baby sleep regression typically happens around 4 months of age, which is the youngest that anyone should consider sleep training their baby.

Post-Regression Sleep Training Techniques

Once the sleep regression is over, some parents want to sleep train their baby. There are many different sleep methods. It can be difficult for parents to decide which method might be best for their family, and how and when to implement it. For almost all sleep training, overnight weaning needs to be done beforehand. If you need help on all things sleep training, we can help.

The Ferber Method: This involves putting your baby in the crib while they’re still awake and leaving them to self-soothe, returning at progressively longer intervals to comfort them briefly.

The Chair Method: With this method you sit in a chair next to your baby’s crib and slowly move it further away each night until you’re out the door.

Pick Up, Put Down: When your baby cries, you pick them up and comfort them until they’re calm, then put them back down—repeating until they fall asleep.

Sleep Steps: With this method you start from least intervention to most intervention, working over time to slowly pull away supports.

How to get help ~ Sleep Training Coaching support:

The first step in conquering baby sleep regressions is understanding that they are a natural part of your baby’s development and will pass with time. Keep in mind that this too is just a season; your baby, and consequently, your sleep patterns, will return to normal. Hold on, you’ve got this, and remember—you’re not alone. Many parents are up at night with you, pacing the floors, and eventually, all of the babies will learn to sleep peacefully through the night. If you need help sooner than eventually…Let’s Connect.