Sleep regression is when your baby who has generally been sleeping well and having longer stretches of sleep without waking starts to wake and it can be worse than when they were new-borns. There are reasons for this and also things you can do to help.
The main ages for sleep regression are:
- 4 months
- 8 months
- 11-13 months
- 18 months
What can I do?
This change in her waking can be due to a number of reasons:
- She is hungry
- Her sleep cycles are changing and becoming more like an adult with light and deep sleep cycles
- She is becoming more alert and aware of her surroundings
It is normal for a breastfeed baby to feed at night for longer than a bottle-fed baby will .This is for a couple of reasons, a breastfed baby by the age of 8-10 weeks will be taking its maximum quantity of milk in one feed, so when their needs increase as they get older , or have a growth spurt they need to feed more and this is often at night, due to increased prolactin levels there is a good supply at night , you are near to them and no distraction for either of you so it’s an easy feed. If you are planning on following the baby lead weaning method these night feeds may go on until 12 months.
When a bottle-fed baby has a need for more they can drink more at each daytime feed so therefore the need to feed at night is not necessary. If though they again cannot self-settle then now is the time to use some sleep coaching so that when they wake in the night they can get back to sleep themselves and not need a feed to go back to sleep.
At around 4 months old babies sleep cycles change and become more like adults with light and deep sleep patterns. If they have not learnt yet to self-settle they may find it hard to settle back to sleep as they move between these cycles. So now is a good time to start with some sleep coaching so that your little one can self-settle and when the next sleep regression comes around 8 months you will all find it easier to deal with.
If you are using a co sleeping cot and it is of the type that can stand free then I would suggest that you move it away from next to your bed. Still in your room but not so close. This will help them with the next stage of moving into their own room around 6 months but also, if breastfeeding you are like a delicious box of chocolates next to them all night, I would take a snack every now and then if they were next to me. They are also very sensitive to every move you make so moving the cot away slightly might help with disturbing them less.
8 Months & 11 months
At 8 months, this is when they are often learning new skills eg crawling and starting to stand and at 11 months starting to walk. Also nap times may need adjusting now.
What can I do?
- Keep consistent with nap and bedtime routines.
- Give your baby the chance to self-settle, we are so quick to jump in and in fact make matters worse. So, use my 10-minute rule of wait and then listen and then respond if necessary.
- If they are standing but unable to get back down then going in and laying them back down a few times maybe necessary until they go back to sleep.
- Around this age they should be having two naps a day. A shorter morning nap of 45-60 minutes and an after-lunch nap of 90-120 minutes.
Already able to self-settle
If they can already self-settle then this will pass and remaining firm and consistent with your routine, especially at bedtime will help them get back on track quickly. Avoid re introducing old crutches like rocking, feeding, a dummy if they have managed without for a while.
At this time, it’s generally down to discipline issues. They have learnt to say no and have self-will. They maybe teething as they are cutting their canine teeth and molars. It can also be down to separation anxiety as its generally at its strongest 10-18 months. They may well have started nursey.
What can I do?
- Stay firm remember to be their coach not their crutch. Keep bedtime if that is the issue to time they will do anything to delay it.
- Offer simple explanations, they cannot yet have a full conversation but just in a few simple words explaining why it’s important to go to bed and sleep.
- If you have done some sleep coaching before, it may be necessary to reinforce this now. Don’t rush in when they won’t settle give them time and respond with guidance in a loving but determined way. You are not cross with them just consistent and firm. “Everything is okay, I am here but It’s time to go to sleep now”
- It’s a lot easier sleep coaching the second or subsequent time, they get it so much quicker.
- If its teething then of course offer your normal medication.