Surviving your baby’s sleep regression period is not a piece of cake, especially for new parents. The interesting thing about baby sleep regression is that most people don’t even know what it is until it finally strikes.
Baby sleep regression is a term given to the time in an infant’s life when they stop sleeping at their usual times. They either sleep less than they usually do or they sleep at different times than normal.
During this time, parents go through a new kind of hell since their entire sleep cycle turns upside down. Staying up all night with the baby with work and chores during the day makes the sleep regression period of a baby no less than boot camp for the parents.
Luckily, we can help you out by telling you all there is to know about your baby’s disturbed sleep cycle and also provide a couple of helpful tips along the way.
Why Do Babies Go Through Sleep Regression?
Sleep regression is not a sign of worry. Most babies go through this period because of their minds and bodies develop.
As their minds develop very quickly, they go through a leap in their schedule and disrupt their usual nap time.
During this regression, your baby is learning all kinds of new things like rolling over on his own or sit on his support without falling.
There are two main periods of sleep regression in most babies’ lives: 4-month sleep regression and 8-month sleep regression. Some little ones also go through this regressive period at 18 months.
During all of these times, the baby is going through rapid development and learning new skills.
A period of sleep regression normally lasts for 3-6 weeks.
If the sleep disturbance ends sooner than that, then there was probably a different factor at play like teething or an illness.
A sick baby’s sleep regression is usually because of a disturbance in their body, and it is not a true sleep regression.
10 Tips to Survive Baby Sleep Regression
Even though sleep regression is normal and happens to most babies, it is still daunting and needs a workaround. Normally 4-month olds need 10-15 hours of sleep in a day, and you need to make sure they get it.
1- Swaddle the Baby
Swaddling the baby does wonder for his sleep. If your baby has shown no signs of rolling over and does not become fussy when you swaddle him, then continue the practice as you usually do.
Try different swaddling methods like adding a weight on the chest, which provides the baby extra comfort when he is trying to sleep.
During the sleep regression period, you need to make sure the baby is at his maximum comfort level when he tries to sleep.
2- Keep the Nursery Dark at Sleep Time
Babies do not have a conscious thinking process, but their mind automatically associates darkness with resting time and light with the time to be energetic.
So even though many people assume that babies need a well-lit area to be comfortable when trying to sleep, that is not exactly the case.
Babies are not afraid of the dark; they sleep better in the dark. So whether your little one is napping or taking a full night’s sleep, make sure he does it in a dark room.
3- Reduce Sleep Associations
If your baby has not hit sleep regression yet, you are either lucky or waiting for it to happen. Either way, it is time to reduce your baby’s sleep associations.
There are many habits and occurrences that the baby associates with sleep. These include nursing, using a pacifier or the bottle, or anything of the sort.
If you do not take these away, the baby will find it difficult to sleep on his own.
During sleep regression, you will often find yourself giving in to your baby’s need for associations because it is difficult to put him to sleep at this time.
If the baby is not used to sleeping on his own, then his need for associations will become more cemented.
4- Start a Night Time Routine
Sleep time for the baby should not come as a surprise.
If you follow a routine every night, you will notice the baby prepares himself for slumber time as soon as he sees the routine initiate.
This routine can include a nice, warm bath for the baby, bedtime stories, lullabies, anything to relax them enough to put them to sleep.
It should be noted that the baby should be kept away from screens just before bedtime because they can disturb his sleep cycle.
5- Let the Baby Sleep on His Own
When the baby sleeps on his own, it slowly becomes a part of his routine, and you do not have to put in extra effort on your own to make it happen.
Now, it is best if you make this a habit before sleep regression hits.
Because when the baby is going through sleep regression, it will be very difficult for him to let go of the need to be rocked or cradled to sleep.
However, if sleeping by himself is a habit, the baby will find it harder to break out of this habit during the regressive period.
6- Introduce the “Drowsy but Awake” Method
When you are putting the baby to sleep, try to do it when the baby is drowsy but not asleep.
So if you see your little one yawning, struggling to keep his eyes open, rubbing his eyes, and any other signs, put him in his crib and let him fall asleep.
If you wait for him to go to sleep before putting him in his crib, the shift in position might wake him up, and it will be extremely difficult to put him down again.
7- Keep the Baby Well-Fed During the Day
Make sure your baby is taking a proper diet during the day.
Do not overfeed or underfeed the little one since he might wake up in the middle of the night because his stomach is upset or because he is hungry.
If you feed the baby a hefty amount of food during night time, you will find that it is difficult for him to go to sleep immediately after and he might stay up late waiting for his food to digest.
And it is very important to be vigilant about this during the baby’s sleep regression ages since even the smallest of triggers can wake him up.
8- Let the Baby Work on Their Development During the Day
Keep an eye out for what new habits the baby is learning, be it rolling over, sitting up, or recognizing different faces.
When you see these habits in action, make sure you give the little one plenty of time to work on them during the day.
If you keep the baby swaddled and limit the development during day time, he will want to be more active during nighttime.
9- Adjust Your Routine With the Baby’s
While it is important to stick to your routine, during the baby’s sleep regression ages, you might want to keep adjusting your routine.
If you are busy when the baby demands attention, you might be cutting into yours and his sleeping time at night.
Since you do not need 10-15 hours of sleep like the baby, try to get most of your work out of the way while he is asleep.
Other than that, make sure he is busy playing with someone else when you are getting other things done.
Your routine will have to change on the fly quite often, so you need to be flexible with time.
10- Take Help
Every mother wants to be a supermom and do everything on her own.
However, keep in mind that all mothers are human beings, and they need help very often.
It goes without saying that your partner should have an equal hand in helping with baby duties.
Other than that, employ a nanny if you have the resources, or take help from friends and family.
This will make the baby more comfortable in social environments and take a huge load off of your shoulders!
You might want to get your hands on a mini round crib for your baby to get through this difficult age. A mini round crib has a myriad of advantages over a regular crib, and it just might be the thing missing from his perfect sleeping routine.
How Can I Help My Baby with Sleep Regression?
Understand that sleep regression is a part of the baby’s developmental process.
You need to be vigilant and help the baby out using the tips we have offered, advice from other mommies, and by using your own motherly instinct.
Also, keep in mind that this period eventually comes to an end so you should not get nervous when it first hits.
How Do I Stop Sleep Regression?
Keep in mind that the baby’s sleep regression comes to an end on its own when the baby leaves the rapid development stage and reaches a stationary point in his growth.
You can help the baby survive it healthily but you cannot do anything to stop it on its own.
Alternatively, keep in mind that sleep regression does not hit all children. If the time never comes for you, it is not a cause of concern.