Hey there, tired parents! Let’s talk about one of the most challenging phases of parenthood: sleep regression in babies. I know that tiredness is the default setting for parents, but boy, oh boy does the sleep regression hit differently. That horrid time when your little bundle of joy is anything but full of joy. They seem to completely forget all about the concept of sleep and keep you awake the entire night. They can even change the night for a day – it can be quite a rollercoaster ride. But fret not because I am here with you ( one of the clues might’ve been writing this article at 2am), and I’m here to share some survival tips with you!
What is sleep regression?
So, what exactly is sleep regression? Picture this: your baby has been sleeping peacefully through the night, and you finally start feeling like you’ve got a handle on this whole parenting thing. Then suddenly, like a plot twist in a dramatic movie, your sweet little angel decides that sleep is overrated. Cue the sleep regression!
Sleep regression typically occurs at various ages, usually around 4 months, 8-10 months, and 18 months. It’s like a tiny revolution happening in their little brains, where their sleep patterns get disrupted. This causes them to wake up more frequently during the night. It can be frustrating and exhausting, but remember, it’s a normal part of their development. Their brain is working extra hard to develop some new skill, and unfortunately, their and your sleep will suffer because of it. But when it is done, you will have a happy baby that has developed a new skill. In our case it was screeching. Woohoo for us.
How long will it last?
Now, the big question: how long does this dreaded sleep regression last? Sadly, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Some babies might sail through it in a few days, some will take weeks, while others might take a bit longer to find their sleep groove again.
Babies like to trick us, so sometimes you might feel you are done with a sleep regression, but they will start again after a few days. Do you want to guess I know this? The good news is that it’s usually temporary, so take a deep breath and hang in there.
How can you survive it?
Okay, now let’s talk survival strategies! First and foremost, cut yourself some slack. It’s easy to feel like you’re doing something wrong but believe me, it’s not your fault. Sleep regression happens to most babies; it is an important step in their development, not a reflection of your parenting skills. Give yourself some grace and remember, this too shall pass.
Next, try to establish a soothing bedtime routine. Consistency is key! Creating a calming ritual before sleep signals to your baby that it’s time to wind down. Whether it’s a warm bath, a gentle lullaby, or a cosy bedtime story, find what works for you and stick to it. We noticed she wakes less often if we read her a story before bed, but a bath wakes her up instead of soothing her to sleep. Find your own rhythm.
And I know you will want to kill me when you read this, but sleep when the baby sleeps! I know it’s easier said than done, especially when there are a million things to do. I wanted to kill anyone who said that pearl of wisdom during the first months, but sleep regression is a completely different ballgame. Catching those precious moments of shut-eye during the day can make a world of difference in your energy levels.
Now, let’s talk about sleep associations. During this phase, your little one might need some extra comfort to fall back asleep, but try to avoid creating new sleep associations that might be tough to break later on. If you don’t usually co-sleep, don’t start now if you don’t want to continue no matter how tempting it is to let them snuggle up with you in your bed. Instead, offer gentle reassurance and a familiar comfort object, like a beloved stuffed animal or a soft blanket. An added benefit is that they will begin associating this object with sleep, which will help them in the future. Our firstborn chose her pacifier as a comfort object, squeezing it in hand to calm down and get back to sleep. After a while, she used it whenever she felt upset and needed to calm down.
White noise machines are your best friends! They might seem like simple gadgets, but they work like magic in drowning out random noises that might disturb your baby’s sleep. Plus, they create a soothing environment that promotes better sleep for both baby and exhausted parents.
Finally, remember to lean on your support system. Reach out to friends, family, or other parents who have gone through the same experience. Sometimes, all you need is a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to lean on, and you’ll realize you’re not alone in this sleepless journey. Try to work out a system with your partner to alternate who stays with the baby every other night. This will allow each of you can get one full night of sleep and feel like a human again.
In the end, just remember, this will pass, and soon enough, your little one will go back to sleeping peacefully through the night. Until then, cherish the cuddles, stay patient, and remember that you’re doing a fantastic job – even on those sleep-deprived days. Sweet dreams (eventually)!