The first sleep regression, OH JOY! The very first sleep regression happens just as parents are settling into a consistent daytime and nighttime routine, around 4 months of age. This stage can be a “pull out your hair, want to scream” type of stage, but I promise you it will NOT last forever. Sleep regressions are actually a very normal, and healthy developmental phase for your baby. Their little brains are learning, growing and taking in so much at this time that it results in short term nighttime and nap time disturbances. The best thing going into a regression is to be prepared, and aware of what to expect when this season hits your household. Once you go through the first regression at around 4 months, you will be very aware of what to expect for the others that will follow. Here is a run-down on what their first regression could look like:
They happen around 4 months of age.
Can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 4.
They wake up more during the night, but are not sick, hungry or teething.
They become much more aware of their surroundings.
They can become very clingy, whiny, less patient, and more demanding - usually with mama.
Staying calm, being patient, and offering lots of snuggles, affirmation, kisses during this time is helpful.
Once sleep becomes more evened out again, your baby will display amazing new abilities in terms of cognition, motor skills, and mental growth.
After you make it through the first sleep regression, and continue forward into the first year of your baby's life, you will see some amazing changes right before your eyes. I suggest writing down all of the developmental milestones your little one goes through, and the dates. You think you will remember these things, but life gets so busy, and before you know it it's all a blur! Take it all in because parenthood is truly a gift, and it goes by so fast! Your little one will go from a snuggly little newborn, to rolling over, sitting up, standing, cruising, and walking. You’ll witness night and day confusion to establishing nap times to that first night in their own room and own bed, when they experience their first solids, their first word, that favourite toy they just can't live without, and more facial expressions, noises and personality than you can imagine. The first year is full of change, and the only consistent thing is knowing roughly what to expect and how to navigate through the changes. Below are some important developmental changes your baby will go through. It is important to watch out for these, so you can pinpoint why your little one may be acting “off”.
As you can see you can expect your baby to go through sleep regressions around months 4, 6, 8-9, 12, 18 and 24. You will be able to tell your little one is going through a regression when you start to see the same signs you saw at 4 months (listed above). During these times it is so important to remain patient with your little one and provide all of the extra TLC.
Here are some tips to help you get through these difficult seasons:
Be Consistent - providing that extra long rocking session before bed or belly rub is totally ok, but I really recommend not implementing big changes like adding in a feeding after they have already been weaned, or bringing them into bed with you. These things will only cause bigger problems for you down the road. Just be consistent and firm, while providing the extra love they need during this time.
Spend extra time outdoors - Getting outside first thing in the morning and after dinner is key for a good nights sleep!
Lots of one-on-one time before bed - play a game of hide-and-seek, peek-a-boo, or a chase game. Anything to make them laugh and feel extra special before bed will help them settle in easier.
If they are refusing naps during this time - don't give up on the naps completely. Continue to offer the naps every day at the same time, and it is ok to let them be in their crib/bed for up to an hour if they are content. Implement a sleep training technique if they are fussy, and move bedtime as early as 6:30pm if they completely refuse the nap.
Re-evaluate your wake windows to make sure they are awake long enough before putting them down for a nap or bedtime.
Remember: THIS WILL PASS
If you are wondering about if and when to start a sleep training program, this is the time. Your little one may need some help connecting their sleep cycles, and learning how to self sooth in order to get through these tough times. Set up a Free-Consultation on my website if you need additional help navigating through these sleep disruptions, I would be happy to help!
Pediatric Sleep Coach - The Slumber Nest