We’ve all heard of them and all parents dread them. But, what exactly is a sleep regression and why does it disrupt our children’s sleep? Keep reading to find out the answers and learn how you can still promote sleep for your little one!
What is a sleep regression?
A sleep regression is generally a period of 1-2 weeks where suddenly your child’s sleep doesn’t seem to come as easily as it has before. During a sleep regression, many children may fight sleep at bedtime, wake more often through the night, resist nap time, or even take shorter naps than usual. These sleep refusals often lead to overtiredness of both the child and parents, resulting in a cranky baby and exhausted parents.
Why sleep regressions happen?
While these sleep regressions are frustrating for many parents, they happen as a result of your child growing, learning, and experiencing new things in their environment. So, while it may feel like a regression in sleep, it’s actually your child progressing in development!
Regression = Progression!
As your child grows, especially in the first 18 months, they’re hitting regular developmental milestones. They’re learning so many fun new skills like crawling, babbling, walking, and even more subtle skills like noticing shapes & patterns. Your child is discovering the world around them and sometimes these milestones can throw off sleep for a short time (usually 1-2 weeks).
The age in which developmental milestones occurs varies for every kid, but we typically see these new skills emerge around 4 months, 6 months, 8 - 10months, 12 months, and 18 months. Whew! That sounds exhausting just reading it!
Here’s the good news: It will pass! AND you can still promote sleep during a regression.
What can you do to promote sleep during a regression?
1. Encourage your little one to practice their new skills throughout the day. For babies and toddlers, bedtime seems like a great time to practice new skills and is the perfect distraction to keep them from falling asleep. Practice during the day will help them to hone these skills more quickly, so they will be less likely to want to practice them during sleep times. Work on new skills for at least 5 minutes 3 times a day to help your child quickly master their new skill!
2. Use an early bedtime for a day or two. If your child is taking shorter naps than usual or waking more frequently through the night, an early bedtime (at least 30 minutes earlier), will help your child catch up on missed sleep. This will help prevent them from becoming too overtired during this period as well.
3. Stick to your normal schedule and routine. When your child’s sleep suddenly changes, many parents assume they are doing something wrong or it’s time for a change. We want to avoid forming new habits that you don’t intend on continuing once they’re through this transition. Children thrive with consistency. Remaining consistent with the current schedule & routines that are familiar to your child will help them get through this much easier.
4. Give extra cuddles and snuggles throughout the day! Can you ever give to many cuddles? I don’t think so! It’s likely that your child will be a bit more cranky or clingy as they go through this transition. Offering lots of snuggles during wake times will help.
5. Have patience. I cannot emphasize this enough. Patience. Patience. Patience. This will pass and your child will come out on the other side with some brand new skills!
If a sleep regression lasts longer than 2 or 3 weeks, there most likely is a deeper issue causing broken sleep. If you’re struggling through a regression or need help getting back on track, I’m here to help!
Let’s set up a free 15-minute discovery call to get started!