SLEEP REGRESSION BY THE SLEEP TEACHER

SLEEP REGRESSION BY THE SLEEP TEACHER

Sleep regression’s, what to know and when to expect them.

Everyone has heard of the dreaded 4 month regression, this bastard hits you out of nowhere. Just when you think your child is a good sleeper and you start to tell people about how your child sleeps 10-12 hours a night, bam! They wake 2-4 hourly and cat nap excessively of a day.

Did you know there is also a 8/10 month, 12 month AND an 18 month regression. Does it ever end?!?!

Unlike the 4 month regression which is due to sleep maturity the later regressions are due to developmental milestones and dropping of naps.

There are things you can do to help your child through these regressions pretty seamlessly.

Lets break down these regressions by age:

8/10 months

This regression usually coincides with the dropping of the 3rd nap (around 8 months). What happens is we drop the nap and just assume they can still stay awake until their usually bedtime. This isn’t usually the case and it can mean we need to bring our littles ones bedtime earlier just slightly for a week or 2 and then gradually put them to bed 10-15 minutes later, until they reach your desired bedtime. This usually only takes a week if that. If we just hold them out until their normal bedtime, then they will only end up overtired and this ain’t fun for anyone!! When they are overtired they will experience lengthy night wake ups, early rising and also be much harder to settle due to increase in cortisol flowing through their body. So what once was your good sleeper is now experiencing night wake ups and their routine is out.

Throw all the developmental milestones they will be going through into the mix and we have a regression. Developmental milestones can include, crawling, sitting up, walking, and pulling themselves up on the side of the cot. Our babies are so stoked with their newfound skill that they will practice, practice and practice some more. Even if it means practicing at 1,2,3 and 4am!! I remember watching my babies on the monitor on their hands and knee’s rocking back and fourth. I would always give them a little bit of space to try and master their new skill and try and resettle before I intervened. Often it would only take a few minutes and they would go back to sleep, as more often then not they are doing it during a light phase of sleep. All these developmental milestones just make it a little bit harder for them to stay in a deep sleep and also fall asleep, as they naturally gravitate to their hands and knees or feet.

Separation anxiety also becomes very apparent at around 9 months and this can play a part in your little one protesting a lot more when put to bed. I often find a lot of sleep associations form around this time, as a baby is naturally out of sorts you will resort to getting them to sleep however you can and before you know it, your child has set you a new little bedtime routine of rocking, bouncing and singing 5 different songs just to get them to sleep, every.single.sleep!!!

What can we do to help this pass:

  • Introduce a really good wind down routine, make sure this routine is consistent for naps and bedtime.
  • This regression can result in baby refusing naps for a couple of days due to stamina, if you remain consistent it will come back fairly quickly.
  • If you have just dropped the 3rd nap, make sure you move their dinner feed earlier as we don’t want them falling asleep feeding. This will only encourage them waking in the night.
  • If your child has never been taught to self-settle, well now is the time. They need to learn this life skill, just as importantly as toilet training. In terms of regressions, self-settling is usually the only way around these.
  • I always stress to my clients who are going through developmental milestones, practice during their awake time. Really master this skill while their awake and active so they don’t try and master while your asleep and nonactive!
  • Take into consideration, that sometimes your child does just need a little bit of space, try not to rush in straight away. A regression will only last a week or 2 but if we start to rush in and stimulate them, this can create habits or associations out of nowhere.
  • Look at their nap length and time. Is this nap too long is it happening at the wrong time. This is why I always stress the importance of an age-appropriate routine.
  • If you do find your days fall apart, and they absolutely will at times, just get back on track the next day. Don’t assume everything is lost and falling apart, just remain consistent and you will get back on track.
  • I know I’ve stressed a lot of things but an early bedtime is something I will shout from the rooftops!! If your babe is dropping naps, sometimes it does mean a bedtime as early as 5.30-45PM. Crazy I know, and clients will often say to me that their child still wakes at the same time and regardless of what time they put them to bed. I have no doubt this maybe the case but it means they are getting that extra 1-1.5hours if we put them to bed earlier rather then waking grumpy and overtired with a sleep debt.

 

12 month regression:

This regression usually forms for a few different reasons just like the 8/10 month regression.

There are a lot of mental and developmental milestones associated with this age. Our babies are usually going through the developmental milestones such as standing, walking or even running. Then there are the mental/cognitive milestones such as learning to talk and understanding their parents and environment a lot more. All these changes can cause a huge regression with sleep and parents tend to think that now their child is 1 that they must ready to go to one nap, it is often way way too soon. Babies obviously have a lot more stamina too at this age so will start to protest when put to bed, this will result in Mum or Dad assuming they don’t need this nap. I usually recommend holding onto 2 naps until between 15-18 months.

If we drop this morning nap too soon a baby will become overtired and if they go to bed overtired it will result in early morning wake ups. Its important we also look at the length of our child’s morning nap before we consider dropping it all together. At this age it should only be 30 minutes max.

What can we do to help this pass:

  • Fighting of the naps are usually just the regression and its important to remain consistent for 1-2 weeks while it passes.
  • Look at length of morning sleep, ensure this is trimmed right back and isnt too lengthy, 30 mins max.
  • I always stress to my clients who are going through developmental milestones, practice during their awake time. Really master this skill while their awake and active so they don’t try and master while your asleep and nonactive!
  •  I know I’ve stressed a lot of things but an early bedtime is something I will shout from the rooftops!! If your babe is dropping naps, sometimes it does mean a bedtime as early as 5.30-45PM. Crazy I know, and clients will often say to me that their child still wakes at the same time and regardless of what time they put them to bed. I have no doubt this maybe the case but it means they are getting that extra 1-1.5hours if we put them to bed earlier rather then waking grumpy and overtired with a sleep debt.

 

18 month regression:

This regression is due to trying to drop to one nap, it may happen a little bit earlier then this, around 16-18 months, but you will know when it hits. You may start to think your little one is a bit off or out of sorts and their routine is all over the place. They will start protesting naps so you think 1 nap is the way to go, then the next day they cant hold out so you think they need to go back to two naps. I find parents often think that because their child refuses their lunchtime nap that they should drop this nap and keep the morning nap and slowly move this nap closer to lunchtime. Rookie error, made by many, myself included! If we do this it means our babes are awake from potentially 12pm through to bedtime, which will result in one overtired babe which again will result in early morning wake ups.

What can we do to help this pass:

  • The answer maybe 1 nap for 1 day and then 2 naps the next days for a couple of weeks.
  • Ensure we don’t drop to one nap too soon.
  • Bring bedtime forward. If your babe is dropping naps, sometimes it does mean a bedtime as early as 5.30-45PM. Crazy I    know, and clients will often say to me that their child still wakes at the same time and regardless of what time they put them to bed. I have no doubt this maybe the case but it means they are getting that extra 1-1.5hours if we put them to bed earlier
    rather then waking grumpy and overtired with a sleep debt.
  • Dropping the lunchtime nap is not the answer. Cut back on the morning nap and see if this makes a difference before you cut to one nap.

 

Overall, regressions are pretty tough! But unlike the 4 month regression that usually results in you having to teach your child to self settle, if your child can self settle this regression will pass fairly quickly if you are consistent with your approach.

If you feel you have tried all of the above and would really like some guidance then please check out our packages on this website.

Kristy x

The Sleep Teacher

@thesleepteacher

https://thesleepteacher.com.au



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