Preparing to be a parent means hearing a lot about sleep. Sleep when you still can. Nap when the baby naps. Try this to help your baby sleep through the night. You've accepted that you're not going to get much sleep with a newborn, but when your baby finally sleeps through the night, you're ready to celebrate. Until they stop sleeping a few weeks later. And then they do it again and again, and it becomes sort of vicious cycle. There are a few things to know about sleep regression in infants, and knowing those things can keep you from spiraling completely out of control. (If you haven't already.)
If you've been a parent for any length of time, I'm willing to guess that you've Googled something like, "baby used to sleep all night or infant no longer sleeping." It's incredibly frustrating to find that your little one was a great sleeper and is now waking several times per night, often inconsolable. When I look back at my daughter's sleeping habits, I know she was going through a regression. She was sleeping through the night until she was around 4 months old and then all bets were off. She was up several hours throughout the night and ended up in bed with me most of the time just so I could catch some Zs. Of course, when it was time for her to start sleeping in her own bed, I had to make some big changes.
The most popular infant regression everyone talks about is the 4 month sleep regression, but your baby may have gone through the regression earlier or later than 4 months. A sleep regression is any time your little one stops sleeping through the night and it doesn't seem to have a cause or reason. They are fussy, they are cranky, their appetite changes, and they are exhausted. Some suggest that a regression happens as your child is going through a big development, like learning to sit up, starting to be more active, or talking. Others say that a regression happens when your child is going through a growth spurt. All parents say regressions suck.
But there are seven things to know about infant sleep regressions to keep you calm and help lessen your frustration. It's extremely hard when your baby won't sleep, but all it takes is some adjusting and a lot of coffee to make it through those infant regressions.
1. They Are Adjusting To An Adult Sleep Schedule
According to The Baby Sleep Site, the reason for an infant regression, especially around 4 months old, is that your baby's brain is beginning to mature. Instead of sleeping like a baby, they are now sleeping like an adult, meaning they cycle between light and deep sleep. Often, they wake up and are unsure of how to get themselves back to sleep, which makes them fussy and exhausted.
2. It Means Their Development & Growth Is On Track
Your baby's brain is maturing, and that's what you want to happen. the Baby Sleep Site noted that a sleep regression often means that your baby's development and growth is right on track. I know that doesn't sound like much when you're riding front seat on the struggle bus, but it's a nice thing to keep in mind.
3. It Can Happen Again
Whether your baby is 6 weeks old or four months old, you can be sure that future regressions are going to happen. Natural Family notes that your baby's development will continue to grow and their little bodies and minds will change leading to rough nights. When they're learning to crawl, they may be practicing in bed, when they're rolling over, they may wake themselves up. Just because your baby is sleeping for a period of time doesn't mean they won't continue to have rough nights.
4. You Have To Teach Your Baby A New Way To Sleep
Babies themselves are pretty easy when it comes to sleeping, but as your baby grows through the infant stages, it will become more difficult. That's because, as Wee Bee Dreaming noted, their schedules are changing and they need to adapt their sleeping to fit it. As they stay awake longer throughout the day, you may have to try a new bedtime. You'll also want to look at any sleep associations and develop a routine to get them in the mood for sleep.
5. There Isn't A One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Unfortunately there isn't a 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed solution to a sleep regression. There is a lot of trial and error and a lot of exhaustion. You also don't have to do anything that doesn't fit in your family's dynamics or makes you uncomfortable. Don't want to cry it out? Then don't. Want to continue nursing your baby to sleep? Go for it.
6. It May Not Even Be A Regression
There isn't a whole lot of research on sleep regressions so, honestly, take all of the information you can find with a grain of salt. KellyMom notes that every baby is different and that a baby's sleep pattern is unique. Just because they're waking up to eat or to be close to you doesn't mean they're going through a regression. They could have slept too much during the day, they could be hungry, or they could be going through some separation anxiety, according to Dr. Sears's site.
7. You're Going To Make It
This is the most important thing to know about a baby's sleep regression — you're going to make it. The sleep regression may not ever "end" and your baby may wake throughout the night for months, but you're going to be OK. Your baby has to learn to sleep, just like they have to learn to crawl, talk, and walk. Be patient (I know it's hard) and remember that your baby is just a baby. You can't expect them to sleep 12 hours a night, uninterrupted, without any help.