4 Useful Tips for Dealing with Sleep Regression in Babies
Infant care is a new experience each time - it doesn’t matter if you’re a new parent or a parent of three, each experience always gives you something new to take away. That said, sleep regression is one of the common topics you would face.
You take comfort in the fact that your child needs a lot of sleep because you definitely are in need of some. Somehow, that seems to disappear when your precious one is crying and wailing in the crack of dawn, begging for your attention. The dreaded sleep regression has commenced. Good news, we have some tips for you to help alleviate symptoms, and give you fewer sleepless nights.
WHAT IS SLEEP REGRESSION?
Sleep regression describes a period of time (~3 to 6 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has a good sleep schedule suddenly starts waking up at night, taking short naps and/or skipping naps for no apparent reason. No matter how prepared you think you might be, it will catch you off guard - you believe you have conquered all your baby’s sleep challenges and suddenly, you’re back to square one. Unfortunately, this can occur at various points in childhood development. Your baby will have the following symptoms:
- More frequent night waking
- Trouble falling asleep at bedtime
- Increased fussiness or crankiness
- Suddenly resisting naps
- Increased bouts of separation anxiety
HOW DOES AN INFANT’S SLEEP CHANGE IN THE FIRST 12 MONTHS?
In the first two months, a newborn will need between 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day, split into 1–3-hour segments. This starts to change halfway through the three months mark as the baby’s sleep starts to consolidate. This means your baby will begin to have longer night-time sleep sessions and have a shorter sleeping schedule (14 to 15 hours a day). This change is caused due to the rapid development of the infant’s brain and body, which may create instability in sleep.
The sleep regression cycle can be categorised into four different stages:
4 Months: At this stage, babies are in the midst of a major transition away from their newborn sleep pattern. This transition is not always smooth and can be further exacerbated by environment, physical growth, and sleep habits.
6 Months: At the six months mark, your baby will start to stay asleep for longer stretches at a time, a process otherwise known as sleep consolidation. They are undergoing significant physical and mental growth - increased awareness of their environment, they are more responsive to sounds, and may gain greater mobility such as rolling over and sitting unsupported. These factors may play a role in your baby’s activity level, effectively influencing their sleeping habits.
8 Months: Sleep patterns vary considerably among babies, so don’t be surprised if your 8-month-old baby isn't displaying sleep regression symptoms as they may still be in the process of consolidating sleep periods. However, due to their notable increase in their cognitive, physical, and emotional development - attributes that may affect their sleeping pattern.
12 Months: Around their first birthday, some children will confront a new round of sleeping difficulties. At this stage, it will be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of your child’s sleeping regression as there are several influencing factors, including increased activity levels, emotional and social development, teething, overstimulation, and the like.
TIPS FOR MANAGING SLEEP REGRESSIONS IN YOUR BABY
To help you better navigate this rather frustrating period, we’ve gathered a few tips you may want to incorporate in your day-to-day.
ESTABLISH A CONSISTENT BEDTIME ROUTINE
Bedtime routines are a consistent, repetitive set of activities that are carried out before bedtime. It helps your child prepare for sleep by having them wind down and giving them a 5sense of security. Research has shown that children with a consistent bedtime routine will have excellent sleep quality, even years later. Good sleep will set the groundwork for self-care, working memory, attention, and other cognitive functions.
There’s no right way to achieve a consistent bedtime routine with your precious one. You could prepare a long bath for them, bottle feed them, and end it off by reading their favourite storybook before tucking them in. Try out different bedtime routine arrangements to see what works best for your baby.
ALLOW ONE FAVOURITE ITEM IN BED
If your little one is having trouble sleeping, you may want to introduce security items that can provide them with the comfort they need. It can be a soft blanket or a plush toy amongst other things. That said, do note that it’s advised to only bring in a security item when they are at least 12 months old. This is due to the fact that younger babies are more susceptible to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and death by suffocation or strangulation.
ELIMINATE BARRIERS TO SLEEP
Set up a good night of sleep for both your baby and yourself. To create the ideal sleeping environment, consider eliminating barriers to sleep. Blackout curtains, for one, are effective in eliminating the bright sunlight and moonlight, as well as regulate the room’s temperature. Introducing white-noise machines will help create a comfortable, womb-like environment that calms anxious infants, encouraging them to stop crying and fall asleep faster. Better yet, consider baby monitors as it allows you to see and hear your baby even when you are not in the room with them.
In addition, an ideal sleeping environment also includes incorporating your nursery with the essentials. This includes pillows and mattresses designed for babies under 12 months, cot beds, and the like.
SWADDLE YOUR LITTLE ONE
Swaddling is a traditional practice of wrapping a baby up gently in a light, breathable blanket to mimic the environment in the womb, helping them feel calm and secure. Swaddling also protects your baby against their natural startle reflex, especially during their sleep, and helps keep their hands off their face, preventing any self-injury. Swaddle your child with swaddle or sleeping bags. Some of these have detachable sleeves to give you more flexibility, allowing for an easy transition between play and sleep. Be sure to opt for swaddles and sleeping bags that meet the safety standard. For instance, Love-To-Dream not only gives you top-notched quality, but their swaddles are all Infant & Nursery Products Association of Australia (INPAA) approved, as well as certified to the relevant safety standards applicable to those particular garments (AS/NZS 1249:2014).
MOTHERCARE: HELPING YOU THROUGH YOUR PARENTHOOD JOURNEY
Sleep regression isn’t fun for anyone. Make this period easier for both you and your baby by following the tips above. As your go-to mother and baby retailer in Singapore, we strive to help you with your parenting experience. We take pride in helping parents by offering an extensive range of products to suit every parent’s needs. From breastfeeding and baby feeding accessories, maternity essentials, to baby travel accessories - Mothercare has it all.
Find your nearest store or shop online now and take advantage of our offer of free shipping direct to your door for any order over MYR 400 (West Malaysia only).
And if you have any questions about any of the products we have available or would like some advice, simply WhatsApp the Digital Nursing Advisor from the store closest to you. They can even help you place your order quickly and easily.