Problems With Sleep and your Baby? You Might Have a Sleep Regression Baby

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Problems With Sleep and your Baby | Sleep Regression Baby

You’ve almost certainly had at least one run-in with sleep regression if you’re a parent. You may be suffering through it currently, prompting you to read this article.

If you haven’t yet had the “pleasure” then kudos on your foresight and proactive nature! You’ll be ready when you first come face to face with a baby who has had a regression in their sleep patterns sleep regression baby. And you’ll need it because, rest assured, this cranky, sleepless, discombobulated good time is heading your way. We can help predict when and aid in taming the beast.

It can be confusing the first time sleep regression appears. You patted yourself on the back, but now suddenly Yyour formerly perfect 6 or 9 month old or 15 month old sleeper suddenly wakes up repeatedly in the middle of the night, screaming your name, or maybe refuses to nap at her regular time. Rest assured, it’s nothing to worry about. Baby sleep regression is typical, even predictable, and most babies regress in their sleep habits at least once or twice within their first year. There are specific triggers you can look for that explain why your baby’s gentle sleep train becomes a whiplash-inducing rollercoaster.

We should mention that sleep disturbances like these aren’t restricted to babies. You’ll find them affecting toddlers as well, but this article will focus on sleep regression, baby style.

What is Baby Sleep Regression and Why Does It Happen?

Sleep regression, baby or otherwise, refers to any sleep disturbance that causes the child to backslide in their sleep habits, reverting to less desirable behaviors. The regressions are temporary, usually lasting between two and four weeks. They’re generally caused by some significant change in the baby’s world which triggers cascading sleep disturbances. Some of the most common culprits include:

  • Teething
  • Growth spurts (which increase baby’s energy demands)
  • Changes to other routines
  • Reaching developmental milestones (such as walking)
  • Sleeping in a new location
  • Illness

If your baby is prone to sleep regressions, there’s a good chance any or all of these are triggers. Others may only have a problem with one or two items. When you notice changes to your baby’s normal patterns, the first thing to do is look for the probable cause.

How to Help Your Child Get Back to Normal Faster

Unfortunately, you can’t avoid a sleep regression regression baby. It’s a normal part of childhood, and you’re likely to make sad bedfellows with it eventually. The best you can do is maintain a regular sleep schedule and get comfortable with the fact that it will occasionally dissolve in your tear-streaked, sleep-deprived hands.

If your sleep time angel is suddenly…not that anymore, here’s what you can do to help ease them back into good habits.

Don’t Rush in and Rock Them

Resist the urge to swoop in and rock them back to sleep when your baby wakes up repeatedly. It’s a myth that babies need to be rocked gently to fall asleep, and it’s actually counterproductive when trying to return your child to good habits.

When you hear them start to cry, let them sit alone with it for a period of time. You want to give your baby a chance to self-soothe, retraining their brains to be sleep self-sufficient. If they don’t right away, go in, rub their back, offer some soothing words, and then leave again, providing another few minutes to let your baby put herself back to sleep. Repeat until they fall asleep without your assistance.

The average 6 month old still wakes up once to feed in the middle of the night, while some 6 month-olds will sleep for 12 hours uninterrupted. Most children can sleep 12 hours uninterrupted by 9 months of age.

This “period of time” of letting them cry may be more than you are initially comfortable with. While surely countless generations of grandmothers have said just wait for a few minutes it was Dr. Ferber, in modern times, who codified the “progressive waiting approach.” This is where on even the first day of training you wait successively longer and longer times ranging from 3 to 10 minutes before approaching your now screaming child.

So you let the baby cry 3 minutes before going in the first time, 5 minutes of screaming before you go in the second time and 10 minutes of wailing before you go in the third time and each subsequent time that night. Each night the times get longer and longer. You can learn more about sleep regression, baby style, in his encyclopedic analysis of all things sleep in, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, available for purchase anywhere the internet will take you.

Help Them Get Over the Triggering Event

We learned earlier that most sleep regressions have a cause. You can help speed recovery by easing the issue. If your baby’s regression was caused by sleeping in an unfamiliar place or if an important routine changed, spend extra time with them. Help them ease into the transition.

If instead, their sleep habits were interrupted by something painful, like teething, a growth spurt, or an illness, work to mitigate the symptoms. The faster their bodies return to normal, the faster their sleep habits will reset.

Create a Consistent Bedtime Routine and Stick To It

The details of your bedtime routine are up to you and your child. If smooth jazz is absolutely necessary, we won’t judge. Find a pattern of actions (like bath, dress, book, song, sleep) that works for your child and run it the same time every day. Consistency helps minimize sleep regressions and makes them more evident when they occur.

Avoid Your Baby Getting Overtired

It might sound strange, but babies have drowsiness bell curves. As they coast up the left side, drowsiness increases, making it easier to fall asleep. But if they aren’t put down during the optimal part of their curve, they’ll drop over the other side and become overtired. They become unsettled or cranky in this state, making it harder to rest.

You can avoid overtiredness by ensuring your baby gets adequate naps. Also, learn their sleep cues — what they do when they start getting drowsy — like rubbing their eyes or tapping angrily at their watch. Act quickly when you notice the signs to get them off to dreamland before the sleep window shuts.

Remember, sleep regressions are temporary. Your family may have to suffer a few days or possibly weeks of restless nights, but peace and tranquility will eventually return.

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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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