I remember before I had my first baby I thought babies slept through the night. Haha! Well, I learned very fast that that is not true at all. Both my babies were breastfeed and woke up every 2 hours to nurse, my first even woke up every hour on some nights. Luckily they didn’t really wake up completely, they just asked for milk so I nursed them and they kept sleeping. However, there would always be times when our sleep routine would be out of the ordinary. They would be more fussy, wake up more often, nurse and stay awake and so on – when that happened I knew that the sleep regression had begun.
When I was a first time mom I started googling about this and found out that babies go through “sleep regression” several times during their first years of life. They call it regression basically because your baby starts sleeping worse. However, like everything in life, nothing lasts forever and this is what we have to remind ourselves when we’re going through one of these rough phases. It also helps to remember that when babies are sleeping bad it is most likely because they are going through a developmental phase, which means they are learning more about the world around them and developing skills, so in essence this is a good thing. Most babies will not sleep through the night when they’re this little anyways, especially if your baby is breastfed so don’t hope for that to happen, just find a way to cope with your baby’s schedule.
Babies and toddlers have sleep regression at 4 months, 9 month, 12/13 months, 18 months and 24 months. As with anything, these are guidelines and not rules so it can happen before or after. I don’t really keep track of them but once I start experiencing some bad nights I realize we’re at this phase.
We are currently experiencing the 4 month sleep regression with our second baby and I’m surviving on coffee. Sleep deprivation is rough but I try to remind myself that soon my baby will go back to sleeping better. We also bed share because this way I get more sleep and I can get to my baby quick. As soon as she starts looking for my breast I wake up and nurse her and most of the time this settles her back to sleep. I know many sleep books advice against this but I believe this is how nature intended for things to be. Your child will learn how to sleep through the night eventually, when they’re ready. For some this means they’ll start sleeping through the night as babies and for other it will be once they’re toddlers, like it happened with my first. There is nothing wrong with that. Each baby is different and has different needs, our job as parents is to identify them and work with our babies.
If you’re experiencing a rough time because of a sleep regression here are some tips to help you get through it:
- Ask for help, wether watching the baby so you can take a nap or having your partner take turns at night.
- Try to nap during the day when your baby is napping. I know this is hard for moms with more than one kid. Now that I have 2 I try to take little naps in the living room while my toddler watches TV, not ideal but you have to do what you can to survive.
- Try sleeping with baby closer to you. Bed sharing has been a life saver for us. Both of my babies are calmer when they sleep close to me, which means I can get more sleep.
- Don’t be afraid to try different things until you figure out what works for you. My first was fine as long as I was next to her in bed. My second sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and won’t settle down, she has to fall asleep on my chest before I can put her back in bed.
- When all else fails, make sure you have lots of coffee available! 🙂
Keep in mind that what works during this phase might not work for another, but you are the mom (or dad) and you got this! No one knows your baby better than you so you’ll find a way – just follow your instincts. And don’t forget that it will get better because nothing lasts forever (even though at times it might feel like forever).
How did you cope with your baby’s sleep regression? Share some tips for parents going through this right now.
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