Over the past few weeks, we’ve been dealing with a serious sleep regression. It happened just when I thought Baby D was doing really well! He was sleeping about eight straight hours, going to sleep at a decent time, and sleeping in nicely in the mornings. Then, all of a sudden, he was waking up a couple times a night, then three, then four… I knew we were in the middle of a bad sleep regression.
What is Sleep Regression?
Sleep regression is when a baby begins waking more at night than he has been in the past. This can mean going from sleeping four hours at a time to sleeping two or going from sleeping eight hours at a time to six. It can look a little different in each case, but basically, it means going backwards.
When does Regular Sleep Regression Occur?
There are a few key ages at which sleep regression occurs in babies. They are 4 months, 8-10 months, 11-12 months, and 18 months. These are rough estimates, but it can make you feel better knowing that what is happening with your baby is likely happening with other babies about their age. Another thing to watch for aside from age is milestones. If your baby is nearing a milestone (sitting up, crawling, walking…), they’ll likely also be going through sleep regression. It’s tough, but it’s completely normal!
How Can I (the Mom) Survive Sleep Regression?
When you’re going through a sleep regression, it can often feel unbearable. Sometimes, I think it’d be better if the baby had never started sleeping well in the first place! At least then, you wouldn’t get adjusted to that wonderful schedule! But remember, you’re not alone. It’s completely normal for your baby to go through these phases and most importantly, it’s just a phase! Your baby WILL start sleeping better soon!
Most sleep regressions last between two and six weeks. That seems rough when you’re in the middle of it, but in the big scheme of things, it’s no time at all!
Since it is really difficult when you’re in the thick of it, I’ve put together a few tips for you (and me) to refer to during those sleepless nights.
- Remember that it’s temporary. If your baby has been sleeping well and they suddenly aren’t, it’s likely due to sleep regression. Thankfully, this means they’ll be back to normal soon! (If your baby has gone months on end without sleeping well, you’re probably looking at a different problem and may want to consider some form of sleep training. If you’re there, I have two sleep training posts, sleep training round 1 and sleep training round 2.)
- Go with the flow. Think your baby just wants to eat? Feed him. Think he’ll go back to sleep if you rock him a few minutes? Rock him a few minutes. Try not to develop habits every night (because then those habits will continue beyond a couple weeks), but do what you need to do to get as much sleep as possible.
- Rely on others. If your husband is able to help, let him! If a friend or relative can take the baby so you can nap during the day, let them! I remember a time when things were really bad when H was a baby. I was soooooo tired. I knew if she woke up in the night, she really didn’t need to eat and could go back to sleep without nursing, so I put earplugs in and told Brian it was his night. He did great! H got up with her twice, but I didn’t hear a thing. It was just what I needed to get through the rest of that time.
- Give yourself a break. Right now, our house is a mess, the sink is full of dirty dishes, we’ve had tacos twice this week, and M is in desperate need of a bath (she just had one, but then she spent nap time yesterday rubbing chapstick in her hair. Yeah…the video monitor is missing, so things like that keep happening). But that’s okay. I’m cutting myself a break on this one. Things are too hard right now to keep up with everything. I also know my limits. I can feel myself on the edge of getting whatever nasty cold the kids have, so I’m choosing to rest during nap time instead of clean. And that’s okay! My husband understands and the kids don’t seem to mind. Take some time to relax!
- Find support. The best thing for me when my child is going through sleep regression is to do a Google search for sleep regression. It’s so nice to be reminded that it’s normal, moms everywhere are going through it, and it won’t last forever. Chatting with other moms on Facebook or message boards is especially encouraging during these late nights.
- Try an earlier bedtime. This may or may not work for you, but as someone who has now gone through three baby “first years”, I’ve found that kids in general go to bed too late. An earlier bedtime often solves sleep problems that can’t be solved otherwise. Even a half hour can make a huge difference!
- Take time to pray. You’ve got all kinds of extra time, why not use it wisely. During these nights when I’m nursing D back to sleep, I often just close my eyes and pray for everyone I can think of. It really turns a negative experience into a positive one.
More About Sleep Regression
What tips do you have to help moms survive sleep regression? Share them in the comments!
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