What is a sleep regression?
Sleep regressions are often related to periods when your baby or toddler is waking lots and you are unsure on what to do as they have not done this before.
This is an often debated topic and there is a lot of speculation on what they are and what they involve. There is no doubt your baby will go through changes in their sleep, however this does not necessarily mean things are going to be awful and there are things that can help make the transitions smoother.
I personally do not like the term 'regression' as it comes across very negative and I hear it being spoken about a lot. I like to view this stage as a sleep 'progression' rather than a 'regression' as your baby is growing and developing how they should be. Therefore, we should see this stage as a positive rather than a negative.
Sometimes your baby may show some obvious signs that they are going through this progression, whereas others may not show anything and you may not notice. It is also a good idea to have a think about what else might be happening in your little ones life e.g. meeting developmental milestones like rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, teething, growth spurts, heightened separation anxiety, starting childcare etc. as these could all have a potential impact on sleep.
What are the signs they may be going through a sleep progression?
#1 Your baby has now started waking more often in the night
#2 Their naps seem a lot shorter than usual
#3 Generally more restless sleep
#4 Harder to settle for naps and at bedtime
When does a sleep regression happen?
Your baby's sleep will naturally start maturing and changing at around 4 months of age, this can be slightly before or after. You may notice your baby's sleep also changes at other ages but this is generally due to external factors that may be happening like developmental milestones or illness.
What is happening around 4 months?
#1 Circadian rhythm starts to form e.g. the difference between day and night
#2 Their sleep cycles start to become more 'adult like'
#3 They spend less time in REM sleep and start to experience more NREM sleep
#4 They may start smiling / cooing and making sounds back at you
#5 They may start rolling over
#6 Increased awareness of their surrounding environment
#7 Hand-eye coordination is developing
#8 Starting to develop head / neck strength
What can I do to help my baby sleep better during these times?
#1 Routine & consistency: Try to stick to a short consistent bedtime routine and maintain healthy sleep habits / hygiene. Your bedtime routine does not need to be long winded and complicated. Keep things short and simple and adapt as needs be. You may also want to do a 'mini' version of your routine during nap times as-well.
#2 Ever-changing sleep needs: Be aware that your baby's sleep needs / routine will constantly be changing to adapt to their new age and stage of development. This means that your baby may no longer need their morning nap, but now has a longer afternoon nap instead.
#3 What else might be going on? It is also important to consider if your baby is really going through a sleep progression or whether they are unwell. Always go with your gut and get your baby seen if they are struggling and things really do not seem right. Your GP and other health professionals are always their for you to have a chat.
#4 Try and be patient: It can be a very frustrating time when your baby is no longer sleeping like they used to do. Try and take some deep breaths and reach out for help and support when needed. There is always someone there to help and guide you through, whether that be your partner, family, friends or health professionals, no one is their to judge. Everyone is willing to help.
We have followed all the advice on riding through the progression phase and things seem to not be improving?
It is common for parents and carers to struggle with their little ones sleep as the core sleep architecture of the brain changes at around 4 months old. It is never too late to make changes and improve your little ones sleep and here at Sophie Sleep we offer various packages to support you on your journey. We offer a range of remote 1:1 consultations along with in home support whereby we can work together to pinpoint current challenges and create a solution that works for your and your family.
If you'd like to learn more about Sophie and her fantastic work in helping families achieve peaceful nights, please visit the Sophie Sleep website www.sophiesleep.com. Discover an array of insightful resources, professional advice, and effective sleep solutions for your little ones.