Many new mothers are warned about the dreaded 4-month sleep regression. Well-meaning friends or older women feel obligated to give new moms the heads up about this not-so-welcome phase, lest they get smug thinking their newborn will always sleep through the night the way she did at 2 months old. But where, oh where, are these sage advisors when your world starts collapsing again at 8 to 10 months? You never saw that one coming. What is the 10-month sleep regression, and what's a parent to do about it?
According to Brooke Hohenadel, a London, Ontario-based sleep consultant for Bedtime Beginnings, infant sleep regressions can be characterized by a sudden change in sleep/wake patterns. In an interview with Romper, Hohenadel explains a regression as, "a baby who appears to have conformed to a 'healthy' sleep routine, with few to no nighttime wakings suddenly experiencing an increase in wakings, sleep refusal, and desire for parental intervention."
But the "10-month" sleep regression is not actually limited to the tenth month, points out Marietta Paxson, sleep consultant at Little Dreamers. Paxson tells Romper that the phase is sparked by gains an infant suddenly makes in physical milestones, like crawling and pulling up, as well as language absorption and the emergence of teeth. Since these vary widely from child to child, sleep regression can actually occur anytime between 7 and 11 months.
With a plethora of new skills to practice, a brain that's spinning a mile a minute, and throbbing gums, can you really blame Junior for wanting to forego sleep in favor of more partying? It's pretty understandable when you stop to think about it.
But obviously you still want to sleep at night, even if your little buddy doesn't, so where do you go from here? Both Paxson and Hohenadel advise parents to remain consistent with their established nighttime protocol. If your baby becomes convinced that she's not missing anything by going back to sleep, she'll be a lot more willing to do it. But on the other hand, if she gets held or fed every time she wakes up, you can count on the fact that she'll work to maintain her winning streak. For most babies, a soft reassurance and pat on the back is the best course of action to get them back on sleepy time track.
Paxson encourages parents to remember that once the developmental milestones have passed, you can expect old sleep habits to resume once more — which means your sleep habits get to as well. In the meantime, there's always caffeine.