Just when you’ve found your groove with your child’s sleep, something changes.
Panic can set in. You wonder how it’s possible for your little one’s sleep to change again. You head to an internet search and you’ve decided your baby is in the middle of a dreaded sleep regression.
I’m here to help you look at these sleep slides a little differently. In fact, in my sleep practice we call them sleep progressions.
Why? Well, sleep isn’t necessarily regressing even though it can heavily feel like it is.
What’s actually happening is sleep is changing. Your child’s sleep needs are growing and how they go to sleep and stay asleep is also evolving.
So, why does sleep change and how can you help?
In general, sleep changes or progresses (remember, we are working on reframing this) during times of growth an development. Basically, when your child is growing more than usual, their needs will also change. They might be hungrier, need more sleep but unsure how to get it because at the same time, we often have developmental changes.
Developmental changes heavily impact sleep. These are times when babies and toddlers are learning new skills and building awareness of the world around them, such as:
-Finding their hands
-Lifting their head
-Speech….and the list goes on.
These developmental milestones happen most often around 3 weeks, 4 months, 6 months, 8-10 months, 11-12 months, 15-18 months…you catch the rhythm. Things are ALWAYS changing and moving along. When there are changes in your child’s body and mind, simply put-sleep changes.
At night, they may be practicing their new skills. They might eat less during the day because-crawling or looking around is way more fun than eating-and then wake in the night to eat more.
During huge periods of growth, they might be hungrier. Insert waking in the night for food again.
When babies are learning to roll over, this is their first huge movement in physical development and we see the most sleep changes. Think about it-you’re laying flat and suddenly you can ROLL around?! EXCITING! Also, frustrating-and the reason we see more wake ups and a little more fragmented sleep during this time.
The good news-this doesn’t last forever. In fact, for many families who have build a solid sleep foundation, these sleep changes smooth over a bit quicker the more you know what to do when they happen.
First, be sure your child has been having sleep changes for over 5-7 days. I heavily suggest never changing things too soon and giving it time to see if they work through it on their own. Below are ways to support them.
Back to basics sleep support:
Things you can do in motion during tough sleep times:
-Try a new way of settling them
-If they are in a bassinet or smaller sleep space, now might be time to move them to a crib so they have more room to move.
-When they wake in the night, give them a few minutes to resettle. We hear wake ups a lot more as babies become louder, but it isn’t always that they are fully waking.
-Keep room calm and dark when they wake in the night. If you offer a feeding, keep is simple and right back to sleep.
-If your baby is swaddled and hitting the four month mark or already rolling over, it is time to remove the swaddle and while this is an adjustment, babies often sleep better when they can move more.