The Three Main Sleep Regressions:
When you think of sleep in the first year so many things will come to mind. When will your baby start sleeping through the night is usually the first one. This is followed by my baby was sleeping through the night and no longer is….regressions ….WHY? To when should my baby be napping? Does my baby nap enough? Finally we are to no more questions and simply making statements……My baby is overtired because they don’t sleep day or night…..They can’t sleep…..My baby is broken….and so am I!!
All jokes aside, this is a tough thing for the majority of parents during the first year. Baby Created Sleep was built to give parents a better understanding of sleep development in the first year and tools on how to approach both daytime and night time sleep.
I am breaking down the biggest milestones in sleep, the famous “ SLEEP REGRESSIONS”.
So why would a baby go from sleeping extended hours in the night to waking up every 1-3 hours again?
4 Month Sleep Regression – Increased Daily Caloric Needs
The first regression you will hear parents talk about is the dreaded four month sleep regression. It is very common for babies to sleep well from 10 weeks to 16 weeks which is just long enough for parents to get used to it. This then quickly changes to wakes every 2 hour and very confused parents.
Looking at the development of sleep between 8-12 weeks we see big changes for babies in understanding night time sleep better by two things. First, they stop pooping at night and second, they sleep longer without eating. The result of this is going into a deeper rest and repair sleep at night time. What happens around four months is a large growth spurt requiring an increase of daily caloric intake. Your baby needs to eat more….seems simple enough.
During the 5-7 days your baby is actively in the growth spurt you will need to feed at night to ensure they are getting enough calories. You might be asking yourself, why you’re still feeding at night and it’s night 12 of no sleep. It’s because we are creatures of habit and as soon as we get used to a new habit we hold on to it. For the baby, they can consume calories in a 24 hour period and they will have better a balance of sleep if they get the deeper rest and repair sleep they need at night time and shorter naps to maintain good energy during the day time.
So how do you make this happen? Increase your daytime feeds!
6 Month Sleep Regression – Mastering Body Movement
Now this stage is as easy as the first if you understand what your baby is working on developmentally. Now that your baby has spent 6 months working through any digestive difficulties, reflux, skin, hair or nail challenges. They are now ready to move on in growth and figure out their body. They have been practicing rolling but may only go one way and get stuck and they have also been trying to sit but may still flop over. Mastering their own body and moving independently is their new obsession. So if they are not getting enough practice in the day time you notice a very mobile and fidgety baby at night. At this point it is best to focus on constant floor time during the day and give them every opportunity to figure their body movement out.
8 Month Sleep Regression – Let’s Have A Conversation
If you are not talking to your baby like an adult at this point you should be. They are cognitively aware of you, your voice, YOUR WORDS….yes they understand you. So tell them what is going on and why. A huge part of sleep changes between 8-10 months. Make sure you have a structured and dependable routine and that you talk to your baby about it. For example: “we are going to the room to take a nap” and then you follow through and do just that. Or “we are going to sleep in our bed tonight all night and not leave the room until morning”, and again you follow through on your words and do that.
Finally, the biggest note I have for 8-10 months is never to play the game of sneaking out and tricking your baby. I know it’s hard to hear them cry but it is vital to build trust and get through the separation anxiety stage by NOT sneaking out. Tell them you are leaving and you will be back. Also a tip to help at this stage is to introduce a lovey.
Regressions can be tricky but they don’t have to mean no sleep! These growth spurts take 5 to 7 nights, after that help guide your little one back on track to healthy sleeping habits at night.