Does this sound familiar? For months, your sleeping angel has been a literal dream. She sleeps soundly through the night and you are proud to report to friends and family that she is an excellent napper. Now, all of sudden, your sweet little snoozer has become a cranky, fussy, and wide-awake night owl. You are exhausted, and no one in your house is sleeping. What gives?
If your baby does not seem to be hungry, sick, or experiencing any type of specific discomfort, then she is most likely going through a sleep regression.
What is a sleep regression? A baby sleep regression is a time period, anywhere from one week to six weeks, when a child suddenly goes from sleeping well to experiencing night wakings and the inability to properly nap. Parents can drive themselves crazy trying to identify what has caused this shift. It’s important to note that sleep regressions often happen for no apparent reason, and while every baby is different, there are certain ages when a regression is most likely to occur.
4 Month Sleep Regression
This is a doozy. We are sorry to say but what happens during this sleep regression is permanent. Remember when your little one was sleeping sweetly every night? That was baby stuff. She is older now, and at four months that “long baby sleep” is cramping her style. She is now sleeping more like an adult, and that means more night wakings, and restlessness.
What to do? Ride it out, and remember it will get better. Extra feedings and extra cuddles will go a long way. Try to avoid, however, creating a new sleep association, such as rocking her or nursing her to sleep.
8 to 10 Month Sleep Regression
Developmental milestones is the name of the game here. This regression occurs at an age when babies are exploring all of their physical capabilities. They are standing, crawling, walking, and reaching -- and 2 a.m. is the perfect time to show you, mom! There is also a crazy amount of brain stimulation happening as your baby is learning to recognize the images, words, and sounds all around them. Making this a perfect storm, we can’t forget that this is the exact age when those sharp pointy teeth are aggressively making their way through your little one’s very tender gums. OUCH. It’s no wonder your baby is having a hard time staying asleep.
What to do? Try to limit distractions. At this age, your child has the ability to become laser-focused on anything that peaks their interest. It could be a toy on the dresser, or a nightlight that is a little too bright. One mom reported having to cover the diaper box in her son’s room with a blanket because her little one was babbling and laughing at the picture of baby on the box. Whatever you have to do to limit distractions, do it.
Also, to ease the discomfort of teething, talk to your pediatrician about giving your baby an infant-approved painkiller before bed. It’s can make all the difference for both you and your little teether.
12 Month Sleep Regression
Don’t sweat it. This one is quick and easy, and many parents will never even notice a regression at this age. If your 12-month-old is experiencing a change in sleep, then it likely has to do with naps. Your child may be refusing to fall asleep, or they may be waking up after just 20 minutes of sleep.
What to do? Stay consistent and treat this as an actual regression rather than a change in schedule. Most babies are not ready to transition to one nap a day until 15 months, so it’s important to try to help your little one work through this phrase as opposed to dropping the nap all together.
18 Month Sleep Regression
This one is the hardest, of all. Why? So many reasons. You are now are the proud parent of a walking, talking toddler with loads of personality – and this toddler of yours is dealing with two HUGE factors; separation anxiety and a gaining of independence.
Separation anxiety can be particularly strong around 18 months. Your baby does not want to be away from you, which can lead to interrupted sleep and an unwillingness to nap. Your child is also at the age where they can do so much for themselves. With this new-found independence likely comes a stronger will, and that means a lot of “NO!” at bedtime.
What to do? Establish a solid bedtime routine. The best bedtime routines are quick and boring. Let your child feel as though they are not missing a thing by going to sleep. Your routine may consist a bedtime story, soft music, or special sleepwear. Children often associate certain sleepwear with feelings of comfort, safety, and security as they head to bed. Medical studies have shown that babies sleeping in wool sleep wear settle more quickly, cry less, sleep longer, feed better and gain weight faster. Woolino products are an excellent option as they are made with the “magic of merino wool,” and the benefits are countless. Children who sleep longer and deeper will take that energy and channel it towards physical and emotional development.
Remember that sleep regressions are normal phases that most children experience at some point. Soon this will be a distant memory for both you and your child. If you need additional sleep consulting assistance, we recommend seeking the advice of a trained pediatric sleep therapist who can further answer any of your questions.