You have a superstar sleeper–the baby that can sleep with music playing in the car, is sound asleep on an airplane, passed out while at a dinner party, and quiet as can be at a busy park–and then, suddenly, they can no longer sleep. Light noises, even something as simple as a loud talker or noise from your neighbors, disrupts every nap or wakes them up too early in the morning before they’ve gotten a full night’s rest. What happened? The answer: the dreaded sleep regression.
Sleep regressions typically start to kick in around 4 months old as babies begin to sleep like adults and their sleep cycles go in-between light and deep sleep.
Sleep regressions can be challenging so here are some tips to help you navigate this change:
Create a Routine
This is the perfect time to set up a healthy sleep foundation for your baby. A consistent sleep routine, aligned with your baby’s biological age, can help them fall asleep on their own.
Find a Consistent Sleep Environment
Lay your baby down in the same place for both naps and night sleep. This helps create consistency and a safe place for them to get the restorative sleep they need. Make the room dark, cool, and soothing with white noise for the most restorative sleep. Motionless sleep in a crib is optimal.
Early Bedtime is Key
An overtired baby is a recipe for disaster. An early bedtime can help your baby drift off into a deeper state of sleep. Follow a sleep schedule for their age and watch for sleepy signs in the early evening.
Try Drowsy but Awake
Placing your baby down drowsy but awake helps them fall asleep on their own. When they partially arouse in the night (as all babies do), they will be capable of soothing themselves back to sleep.
These simple steps can dramatically help with your baby’s sleep, however, often sleep regressions can occur when your baby is 8-10 months old as well. This is completely normal and this regression has everything to do with developmental milestones. Your baby may be learning to crawl, pull themselves up, cruise, and even walk. During this time, there are important connections being made between cognitive development and language comprehension which can create the perfect storm to disrupt sleep. Practice these very milestones during the day with your baby to help them connect the dots. This can be done through tummy time, outdoor play, and sensory experiences.
If teething happens to be the reason your little one is having a hard time settling in at night, provide comfort with a cool compress and some extra cuddles. Then, when the teething has stopped, be sure to get them back on their sleep schedule. It’s important to stay consistent and patient. You have come so far getting your baby in a great routine, try not to let your ways of rocking and feeding to sleep be an option just because sleep is choppy during this time.
It may be tempting to drop a nap or tire your little one out until they crash at night–instead aim for an earlier bedtime to make up for lost sleep until the sleep regression passes. Sleep equals sleep, the more your baby sleeps at night, the more they will sleep during the day and vice versa…and the more YOU will sleep, too! Be patient and stay consistent with the sleep routine during this time. Your baby is growing and learning and this challenging time will soon be a distant memory. Breathe, this too shall pass and your superstar sleeper will return, I promise.