Sleep regression happens when a baby can no longer sleep well throughout the night. The baby can wake up at all hours of the night and/or avoid taking a nap. This will make for one cranky baby and, in turn, one very overtired mom.
According to experts, there are three times a baby goes through sleep regression in their first year and half of life. The first one is said to begin when the baby is around three to four months old. The second is when the baby is around nine months old. Lastly, the third is when the baby is around 18 months old.
Sleep regression feels like it comes out of nowhere, and can drive moms crazy. Parents who have chores to complete, or are trying to get some shut eye, will have a difficult time accomplishing anything when the baby is going through sleep regression. The baby will stay awake and keep demanding mom's attention. Plus, the lack of sleep for the baby will put him/her in a bad and fussy mood. Sleep is very important for anyone - from babies to seniors.
Here are 10 reasons why mom might be to blame for baby’s sleep regression and 5 ways to help fix it.
15 Sign: Too Many Diaper Changes
It's never a good thing to leave a baby in a soiled diaper for long periods of time, but did you know there is such a thing as too many diaper changes? When night rolls around, there is no need for mom to wake up the sleeping baby and change their diaper. Doing so will disrupt the baby's sleep schedule, which can lead to sleep regression. Unless the baby's diaper look like it's going to explode, it is best for moms to wait until the baby is up and awake before making the change. Babies don't usually sleep for 8 straight hours, like most adults do, so leaving the diaper alone won't cause them any harm. Trust us... When babies need a diaper change, they will always let you know.
14 Sign: On And Off Naps
The younger a baby is, the more likely he/she will need to nap. For example: a baby who is 0 to 6 weeks old should be napping from 15 minutes to 4 hours. This usually happens 4 to 8 times a day. A baby who is 6 months to 9 months old, on the other hand, should be napping for 1 to 3 hours. This usually happens three times a day.
Babies start to develop a regular nap routine when they are between 3 to 4 months old. This is why it's crucial for moms to make sure their baby isn't napping too often or napping longer than they should be.
When mom decides to let their baby nap on and off, there is a higher change the baby will not sleep well throughout the night since they got all the sleep they needed during the day. It's also important to make sure the baby is napping the minimum amount of time because without them the baby can get overtired, fussy and agitated, and still have issues trying to go to sleep later on too. It is all about that middle ground.
13 Sign: The Baby Isn't Comfortable
Adults won't fall asleep unless they're comfortable, right? So why wouldn’t a baby be the same way? If the baby's diaper is too wet, if they feel too hot, or if their clothes are too tight, this will hinder the baby's ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. If the baby’s diaper is wet before bedtime, the baby will have a harder time falling into a good sleep. The baby, then, is more likely to wake up sooner rather than later. And this is bad for both mom and the baby. It is also important to make sure that the baby’s clothes fit properly. Mom needs to make sure the baby isn't over dressed or under dressed. The baby should also have enough room to move around and shouldn't feel too hot or too cold.
12 Sign: Running For The Bottle
When babies wake up and start crying, some parents will try to calm the tears with a bottle or a diaper change. This is the worst thing parents can do. When mom takes the baby out of the crib and starts feeding, she not only interrupts her baby's sleep but now the baby will be more likely to repeat this behavior the next night. Mom should only feed the baby when they are truly hungry, so sticking to a feeding schedule is crucial. Moms need to realize that there are other reasons babies might cry. Sometimes they just want love and attention from their favorite person - mom. It is very important than that if the baby starts crying at night, mom shouldn't run to their rescue... or the bottle.
11 Sign: All Day Without Play
Adults aren't the only ones who get bored. It may take some time, but babies will also feel bored and not want to play with their chew toys and stuffed animals that are made available to them. Babies need entertainment in their life. The more active a baby is during the day, the easier it will be for the baby to fall asleep faster at bedtime. It will also help the baby to stay asleep a lot longer - and this is good new for parents who are in desperate need of shut eye! If the baby is left in front of the TV all day, this will lead to bad sleeping habits that will affect mom more than she realizes. It's important to keep babies stimulated and active with toys or games. In doing so, the baby will be tired by night time.
10 Sign: There's No Schedule
Setting a schedule is not only beneficial for the baby, but for moms as well. The baby shouldn't decide when nap or sleep time is. That decision should always be up to mom. When nap time rolls around, the baby should know playtime is over and it's now time to sleep. If the baby is not used to a schedule, however, mom will most probably stuck by the crib trying to get the baby to fall asleep. This is why it's so important for moms to get the baby on a schedule as soon as possible. The longer mom waits on naptimes, bedtimes, and feedings, it will become so much harder to do so in the future. The sooner mom designates certain time frames for doing specific things; the better mom will be able to accomplish more in a day.
9 Sign: The Blue Light Problem
Blue light can be found in computer screens, cellphones, tablets, and even fluorescent lights. Research has found that blue light actually suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other type of light, which happens to make it harder for the body to shut down and detect when it's actually time to go to sleep. Babies are also affected by blue lights just like adults are. So, it is not a good idea to sit a baby in front of the TV before bedtime. It is best to cut off sources of blue light, or at least try to limit it, at least an hour before bedtime. So, if you are guilty of allowing your baby time with blue light before bed, and they have trouble sleeping, this may be the culprit.
8 Sign: When It's After Dark
One way mom could be blamed for her baby’s sleep regression is by interacting with her baby too much at bedtime. If the baby wakes up in the middle of the night, it is not the best idea to interact too much, because mom runs the risk of stimulating the baby’s mind when they should be winding down. Even talking to the baby too much can actually wake them up and make it harder for them to fall back to sleep. The baby has to realize that it is still night time and not play time, so they should be sleeping. Even worse is trying to play with them in the middle of the night by tickling their tummy or their adorable little toes, or by any other means that may resemble play time. Keep conversation and interactions to a minimum if the goal is getting baby to sleep.
7 Sign: Mistaking The Signs
Newborns do all sorts of strange but cute things when they are sleeping. If a mom watches her newborn sleep, she will notice the noises they make, their twitches, and some babies even have their eyes slightly open. This is all normal behavior for a sleeping newborn, but sometimes moms will make the mistake of thinking these movements mean the baby is waking up.
Most newborns sleep in increments of 30 minutes to 4 hours. This stage is called active sleep. Active sleep is a lighter sleep where mom will see all the twitching and hear all those adorable groans before they advance into a deeper state of sleep that will make it a little bit harder to wake them with typical household noises. Knowing the difference and being able to tell when the baby is actually asleep will be beneficial and help to avoid contributing to a baby’s sleep regression.
6 Sign: Night Time Noises
Even though it is good for a baby to have background noise, just like with adults, too much background noise could keep the baby awake and more alert. If you live on a busy street or intersection, sometimes just the heavy traffic outside could keep the baby awake, especially if passing cars like to honk randomly.
Sometimes the difference between a baby being awake all night and a baby allowing their mom to get some shut-eye is a little soothing background noise. White noise can work miracles for a baby that seems to rouse from all the other sounds of the night. Investing in a white noise machine, or even a fan during the appropriate season can be enough to help the baby fall asleep a little better, and maybe even stay asleep a little bit longer.
5 The Fix: Set A Routine
Putting your baby on a good sleep and feeding schedule will be a key element in combating your baby’s sleep regression. In the first three months of the baby’s life, they will sleep much more than any other period. Mom can start getting into a regular sleep and feeding schedule by the time the baby is 3 or 4 months old. Mom needs to make sure the baby's feeding and sleep schedule coincide with each other. For example, it would be beneficial for mom to feed the baby one last meal around 11 pm. This will allow him/her to sleep through the night and later into the morning. By cementing a feeding and sleep schedule, the baby will learn when it's time for eat and when it's time to sleep.
4 The Fix: Don't Share The Bed
It's not a crime for moms to sleep with the baby in their first few weeks of life. But, at a certain point, the baby will need to sleep in their own room and crib. This will need to happen around the 2-month mark and will keep the baby from having sleeping problems in the future. By sleeping in their own crib, the baby will become more independent and won't need the comfort of mom or dad to sleep through the night. This will be especially beneficial when mom and dad want a night out on the town and need to call a babysitter. Plus, if the baby is in another room, mom is less likely to jump at every grunt, kick, or babble from the baby, which allows the whole family to sleep a little longer.
3 The Fix: The Darker The Better
One little tip to help get your baby to fall asleep faster (and to help them stay asleep a little longer) is to make sure that after you put them into their crib, their bedroom stays nice and dark throughout the might. The best way to accomplish this is by investing in some blackout shades. Just like adults, if it gets too bright inside the baby's bedroom it will keep he/her from getting the best sleep possible. This is even truer if you live on a busy street or have bright street lamps on the same side of the window in the baby's room. While blackout shades aren’t necessarily mandatory, they can definitely help moms out during the wildly fun sleep regression stages.
2 The Fix: Don't Rescue
While it’s not good to fully let a baby “cry it out,” it’s also not good to run right to their rescue either. When it comes to letting your baby cry, there is no real harm in letting them cry for a few minutes before attending to their needs. No more than 5 minutes is long enough. The reason you don’t want to run right to your baby’s rescue, no matter how much it pains you, is because if you run to every little sound, your baby comes to expect that, and they will never go back to sleep on their own.
Anytime they want attention; they would know to just start making a little noise. After those couple of minutes that you let your baby cry, check to see if they need their needs are met while interacting with them minimally as to not give them too much stimulation so that they can fall back to sleep after you check on them.
1 The Fix: Know The Limits
Some sleep associations are good and can be very helpful, especially during the sleep regression stages. Things like blackout shades and implements used to create white noise are very useful. Other things can actually become detrimental or damaging during the times when it feels like your baby is boycotting sleep altogether. Feeding your baby to get them to go to sleep, rocking them, or even giving them a pacifier to get them to sleep can all become harmful, and your baby will start to feel like they need those things in order to drift off to sleep. They will feel that without them they won’t be able to fall asleep, and they will most likely start crying every time they wake up until they get whatever they have associated sleep with instead of going back to bed naturally without it.
Sources: community.today.com, weebeedreaming.com, babysleepsite.com, bluelightexposed.com, preciouslittlesleep.com, babycenter.com