The dreaded baby sleep regression can be an exhausting period. If you are wondering what is sleep regression – it is the time when the sleep patterns of your baby shift and they often wake up during the night and refuse to go back to sleep. Obviously, if your baby is awake, you are also awake. As a new parent, the lapses in sleep can be exhausting.
A close look on baby sleep regression
Although draining, baby sleep regression is temporary and relatively normal. It often coincides with the developmental milestones such as growth spurt or brain development. The brain of your baby is constantly evolving as it adapts to a new environment and starts to learn new skills. At this point, your baby is learning and mastering new skills such as rolling over or sitting up. This phase in learning can be stressful for the baby and this has an effect on the sleeping patterns.
The first baby sleep regression occurs once your baby is 4 months old and others might occur in the future. Since it is the first, it is often the hardest for parents. It can last anywhere between two to four weeks. The regressions are common but not every baby will experience it at this time.
What are the signs?
The indicative sign of baby sleep regression is a sudden worsening in the sleep patterns around 4 months of age. Other signs include the following:
- Less napping
- Multiple waking at night
- Appetite changes
The good news is that your child is growing and starting to learn new things. Remember that your baby is becoming more engaged with his/her environment.
How to manage the sleep regression period
Sleep regression is only temporary. Remember that your baby is frustrated with the rapid growth of his/her body and mind. At this point, your baby is engaged and aware of his/her surroundings, including you. Your baby can sense your presence and know whether you are around or not. This is the right time to teach your baby healthy sleeping habits.
Provide your baby time to practice during the day
Your child is working hard to master new skills and might try to practice at night which can keep him/her awake. Try to make sure that your child is given time during the day to practice his/her new skills such as rolling over or sitting up.
Adequate feeding during the day
Make sure that you are feeding your baby in an environment without any distractions. Ensuring full feedings during the day and before bed can prevent him/her from getting hungry in the middle of the night.
Once your child has slept through the night but starts to cry, try to resist feeding him/her. If your baby is always fed to make him/her stop crying, he/she will expect this response upon waking up.
Keeping the room dark
When putting your baby down for a nap, try to keep the room as dark as possible to ensure better sleep. If the baby wakes up too soon, the darkness will encourage him/her to fall back to sleep.
In the morning when it is time to wake up, allow natural sunlight to fill the room. The presence of light familiarizes the brain about the sleep-wake cycle.
Stick with a routine
At this age, babies require 10-12 hours of sleep at night and several naps throughout the day. It is time to regulate your baby’s sleep patterns and naps. Put the baby in the crib for naps and at night while awake but drowsy. Remember that your baby needs to learn to fall asleep on his/her own.
If you do not have a routine yet, create one and stick with it. You can do whatever you like as long as it is consistent.
Make it quick
If you hear your baby wake up at night, wait for a few minutes before checking. If your baby continues to cry, you must respond.
Nevertheless, the waking at nighttime for feeding and changing must be done quickly and as quiet as possible during the baby sleep regression period. Avoid talking, playing or turning on the lights or even using your phone or computer. Take note that the light from the devices might stimulate your baby. Remember that you need to encourage the idea that nighttime is for sleeping.