How Can We Deal with Baby Sleep Regression?
“My daughter is just four months old. She used to sleep well at night, but recently she has suddenly become hard to sleep, waking up frequently during the night and sleeping for shorter periods during the day. Why is my child so restless at night? The doctor said: there is nothing wrong with your child; she is just in a sleep regression period, and she will be fine after a while. What is sleep regression and how should I deal with it?”
Recently, a friend of mine confided in me that her child was experiencing some sleep issues
As a first-time parent, you may feel like you are always chasing sleep. For the first few months, whenever it's late at night, you feed, change nappies and comfort the helpless, almost nocturnal little one. Then one day - usually around 3 or 4 months- they find their groove and enter a more predictable sleep cycle.
Then, just as you begin to regain your sense of self, your baby begins to develop and grow rapidly, and their sleep may be negatively affected. Both you and your baby will be woken up in the middle of the night from time to time, and your little one may suddenly become less of a napper.
What is sleep regression?
Sleep regression is a temporary period of interrupted sleep that some infants and toddlers experience as they grow up, which is normal.
In summary, sleep regression is a common developmental period where infants temporarily experience disrupted sleep as their brains and bodies rapidly develop new skills and abilities. It's a short-lived phase of adjustment.
You may have heard this dreaded phrase from other parents who are enduring a string of sleepless nights. But what exactly is sleep regression and what does it mean for your baby (and you)? Simply put, a sleep regression is a phase that occurs when a baby (or toddler) who was sleeping well for a while suddenly shuns rest. They usually wake up throughout the night or skip naps altogether.
While the term implies that your baby is returning to a less mature stage, sleep regression often signals a positive period of growth or development.
The key things are that it's very normal and will pass as their brains develop. Maintaining routines and soothing techniques can help Baby and parents get through these temporary sleep challenges.
What causes sleep regression?
Sleep loss in children is mainly due to the rapid development of the brain and body, and here are some of the main reasons.
The child's brain is growing and developing, especially in areas such as the brainstem and lateral meninges, which affects the regulation of sleep centers.
Learning new skills
Learning new skills, such as rolling over, sitting up, crawling, etc., requires adjustments to the sleep structure.
The eruption of wisdom teeth or baby teeth can cause itching and discomfort in the gums, which can interfere with sleep.
Growth and Developmental Needs
This is a period of rapid growth, which requires more energy, and changes in body size also affect sleeping positions.
Cognitive and emotional maturity
The developing brain leads to new abilities such as concentration and memory, which are more affected by external stimuli.
Changes such as room changes and the addition of solid foods can disrupt old habits and require new adaptations.
For example, the maturation of the thermoregulatory center may lead to more night wakings.
Overall, this is a temporary sleep adjustment period due to the rapid growth of the whole child during this period.
What age do babies have sleep regression?
It occurs during the rapid development of the brain and body in infants and young children, most commonly at 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12-18 months of age.
How do I tell if a baby is going through a sleep regression?
Here are some signs that indicate a decline in your baby's sleep quality:
Increased waking during the night - Your baby may be waking more often and finding it difficult to settle down to sleep.
Shorter naps - Even if your baby seems tired, naps may be shorter.
Irritability and crying - Baby may cry more, especially around bedtime, and generally seem restless.
Clingy during the day - Baby wants to be held more and may resist being put down.
Loss of appetite - may refuse bottles/breast milk or not eat as much as usual.
Changes in sleep patterns - such as waking up earlier in the morning, going to bed later, or having irregular sleep cycles.
Developmental milestones - if they coincide with physical or cognitive milestones, such as learning to sit, crawl, etc.
Duration - signs last more than a few days and affect daytime and nighttime sleep.
Be aware that any sudden change in your baby's normal sleep habits can be a sign of a potential regression. If the problem persists for more than two weeks, consult your paediatrician.
How do I get past my baby sleep regression?
Here are some tips that can help you get through your baby's sleep regression:
Keep a consistent bedtime routine. Keep it simple, but do the same thing every night.
Make sure your baby feels tired before bedtime. Enforce a regular nap schedule during the day.
Use soothing techniques such as white noise, gentle rocking or nursing/feeding to help baby fall back asleep at night.
And also,wearing a comfortable sleeping sack can be helpful for your baby.
Respond quickly to your baby during nighttime feedings or soothing to shorten nighttime awakenings.
Avoid over-stimulation before bedtime. Create a quiet sleep environment for your baby.
Consider extending daytime naps if nighttime sleep is disturbed. More sleep during the day will help.
Wait patiently for your baby to adjust. Regression is temporary, but it takes time to work through.
If needed, ask your partner or a family member to help care for your baby overnight.
Track sleep patterns to see progress. But avoid letting your baby sleep too much.
If the problem persists for more than 2-3 weeks, consult your doctor to rule out any medical causes.
Sticking to a daily routine and calming techniques can help your baby return to a normal sleep cycle within a few weeks. Remember, this is just a developmental stage.
An expert in sleep sack design, is a valued contributor to Kaiya Angel's blog. With a strong background in baby sleep bags and maternal care, she is highly regarded for her professionalism. Yujia Shi prioritizes baby comfort and safety in her designs, using high-quality materials. Her insightful articles on sleep bags have been featured in reputable publications and have gained a significant readership. Trust Yujia Shi to help you create a comfortable and safe sleep environment for your baby, backed by her proven track record in the industry.