Sleep regressions can lead to exhausted and irritable families. When your baby goes through a sleep regression, they will often wake up at night, take short naps, skip naps, or stay awake for long periods in the middle of the night. In this post, we will share 5 tips and baby sleep remedies to help you get through your baby’s sleep regressions.
- Pay Extra Close Attention to the Schedule
The #1 reason for a baby waking up a lot at night is the wrong schedule. More often than not, it’s because your baby is overtired but other things can cause your baby to wake a lot at night, too. If your baby is going through the 4-month sleep regression, the most disruptive sleep regression, they might need to drop a nap and transition to an age-appropriate 3-nap or 4-nap schedule. You should know that the 4-month sleep regression is a permanent change to the way your baby sleeps. They now have to learn how to go through sleep cycles which is not always an easy feat, unfortunately.
Consider that if your baby is learning to be more mobile, they might need an earlier bedtime. Moving around can be exhausting! Just imagine walking on a treadmill all day. In some cases, the amount of time your baby can stay awake shortens a bit during a growth spurt or developmental leap.
Finally, another thing to consider is whether your feeding schedule needs to be adjusted. A baby who is newly mobile might need to eat more during the day. They start burning through more and more calories, and as they get bigger so does their stomach so they can hold more, too!
- Re-Evaluate the Nursery
Many newborns sleep through just about everything but as they get older and more aware of everything around them, it’s possible things aren’t as easy to tune out. If you don’t already have white noise going, it might be a good time to consider adding it. Another thing to consider is room-darkening blinds or curtains. Some babies are sensitive to light and won’t nap as well in a brightly lit room anymore.
- Develop a Bedtime Routine
If you haven’t already, cueing your baby sleep is coming can be a huge help! Even adults have bedtime rituals or routines. For example, I put on my pajamas (though I hate pants and must wear shorts!) and I brush my teeth. My husband and I often watch a little TV before we shut off the light to unwind a bit. Your baby can benefit from a wind-down process, too.
Bedtime routines for babies are generally only 15-20 minutes long unless you do a bath as part of the routine. A bath isn’t always necessary but helps some babies calm down. For most babies, a routine can simply include a fresh diaper, pajamas, sleep sack or swaddle, a book or two, a song or two, a little cuddling, and then put down in bed.
- Don’t Blame Everything on the Sleep Regression
It’s easy to blame every sleep problem on sleep regressions. After all, there’s one at almost every age it feels like! But, there are many reasons a baby wakes at night. It is best to rule out every reason your baby could be waking at night or taking short naps. You can miss something important such as a tooth cutting through the gums, the need for your 8-month-old to drop the third catnap, your 6-week old going through a growth spurt, or an uncomfortable diaper rash, just to mention a few examples.
- Respect the Regression But Don’t Go Overboard
The #1 thing to remember about sleep regressions is that they are somewhat temporary (except for the 4-month sleep regression I mentioned above). If your baby is learning to crawl, cruise, and sit up, once your baby masters those new skills, their sleep will likely settle back down. However, if you start to go overboard in your baby sleep remedies, unfortunately, this can lead to long-term sleep habits.
For example, imagine your baby is suddenly taking 30 minutes to fall asleep at bedtime. First, consider whether it’s a problem at all. If your baby needs some “practice” time, that’s okay. Allow this as they will eventually, not need that time anymore. Or, again, consider whether the schedule needs adjusting. If you start rocking your baby to sleep to get them to sleep faster, this can become a habit you need to do at bedtime for months to come. In addition, your baby might suddenly start to need to be rocked or held back to sleep many times a night.
Instead, you might need to change your expectations about how long bedtime will be for a few weeks. Soothe your baby extra as needed but still, try to keep your baby going to sleep the same way they did before the regression.
Sleep regressions can be frustrating, exhausting, and downright miserable for everyone. Hopefully, these tips help you and your family rest a bit easier!
Nicole Johnson is a married mother of two wonderful boys and owner of The Baby Sleep Site. When her eldest son was born, he had a lot of sleep problems – he would wake every one or two hours, all night long! Nicole got busy and thoroughly researched literature and scientific reports until she became an expert in sleep methods, scheduling routines, baby developmental needs, and more. She overcame her son’s sleeping issues in a way that matched her own parenting style, and knew it was her mission to help other tired parents “find their child’s sleep”. If you have your own sleep issues, Nicole and her team at The Baby Sleep Site® can help! Download the popular free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night, to get started today.