Babysleep R for Sleep Regressions
You breathe a sigh of relief! Your baby is, at long last, sleeping well. They are in a routine… then what happens? Sleep regression! But you might not even realize that’s what it is. Perhaps you think sleep regression doesn’t exist. Sadly, that is not the case because it does exist, and for some people the regressions can be quite hard work. So, here’s a little bit about why it arises and what you can expect.
What Is It?
Sleep regression occurs while your baby is asleep. It is a period of sleep which is disrupted severely. For example, your baby may start to wake at 20-minute intervals whereas before it was sleeping for more extended periods. They may begin to miss out daytime naps or wake up early from them. Maybe they were sleeping through the night previously, whereas now they are waking up? No matter what form of regression occurs, it is likely you are completely unprepared for it.
Why Does It Happen?
What is the reason for sleep regression? Did you do something to make it happen? Not quite. The majority of sleep regressions occur at similar phases during the development of your baby. Keep in mind that not all babies will go through identical things at precisely the same time because they are all different. It’s possible that sleep regression could pass you by (lucky you!), but as a guide, they tend to occur at about 4, 11, and 18 months, and 2 years.
What triggers sleep regressions?
Since they happen at various phases of a baby’s life, each regression is caused by different things. It is difficult to pinpoint each regression’s specific cause, but putting it simply, fluctuations which happen throughout the development of your baby disturb their sleep. Think for a moment just how quickly their brains are growing and evolving, and how fast they are learning different skills, etc. It’s not surprising that their sleep can also be affected as a result of this development! Here’s a simple guide for all the regression periods.
4 Month Stage
Four months is typically the time when parents first see a change in the sleeping habits of their baby. This is the time when babies are at the end of their ‘newborn’ sleeping pattern and assume a more ‘changeable’ habit where they wake more often and take fewer naps. Babies at this age, in general, don’t easily go into a deep sleep as they did before, resulting in them waking (and fretting) the minute you lie them down in bed. Trying to get your baby to sleep during this regression, might be very difficult in the first part of the evening, and waking up might be a problem too – if they wake during the early hours it might be hard for them to get back to sleep again. The routines or habits that your baby learns during this period may sadly be long-term. Therefore, it is vital that good ‘bedtime’ habits be established before this point.
8 Month Stage
Occasionally happening at 9 or sometimes 10 months, sleep regression has a great deal to do with development. Not only are your baby’s skills developing right now, but also their understanding of language too. Your baby is coming on in leaps and bounds, their physical abilities like crawling, cruising, and even walking are developing, not to mention teething! These are just some of the reasons why sleep is not on their agenda.
11 Month/1 Year Stage
This stage of sleep regression is perhaps not so typical and will characteristically be seen in naps as opposed to their night sleeping. With that in mind, remember “sleep breeds sleep.” Therefore, if your baby is not taking proper naps, then their sleep at night will be affected as well. It might be that you notice your baby start refusing their naps or skip them entirely. During this stage of their life, a baby requires two beneficial naps each day (consider the two, two, four (2,2,4) routine). This phase of regression merely needs a little time to work through.
18 Month Stage
At this age, your baby has become a walking, talking toddler. This particular sleep regression stage can be hard-hitting. Your toddler is striving for independence more and more, and fighting sleep which is one of the ways they show it. Why would they want to go to bed and sleep when there is lots of fun to be had everywhere else? Tantrums are typically seen at this age, which can make bedtimes a challenge, and let’s not overlook the teething either, which is still ongoing at this age!
Two Year Stage
Sleep regression at the two-year phase can be quite complicated too. At the age of two, your toddler genuinely doesn’t need as much sleep as they did before. This is also the time when massive other changes are occurring like potty training, moving into a proper bed, etc. This stage of regression can be extremely tough.
Coping With Sleep Regression
There is no doubt about it, sleep regression at any stage can be an uphill struggle. Get some support from your partner, family members of friends. Think about adjusting bedtime habits, maybe even consider an earlier time if you are finding naps an issue throughout the day. One thing is for sure, stick as strictly as you can to any routine you create because providing consistent sleep cues for your baby every day is essential. Finally, remember one thing….it will pass!