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The Myth of "Sleep Regressions"

Want to know a secret? I don't believe in "sleep regressions". Clients will talk to me about the dreaded 4, 6, 8, 12, 18 month regressions and I nod and smile politely all the while I want to scream at the top of my lungs "THAT'S NOT A REAL THING"!!!

So you had a baby 4 months ago and seemingly out of the blue they have an awful night of crying or they will not settle down for bed like they did the night before. Out of desperation you fire up the ol' google machine and want to know why this is happening and what you should do. I'm willing to bet that you will find more blog posts and articles than you can shake your fist at that will describe the horrors of this "4 month sleep regression". It's like all those stories about a friend of a friend who was babysitting and the call came from INSIDE THE HOME!!!! Only this time, you have a crying baby in front of you (who won't sleep) to corroborate these myths.

So here is what's really happening:

Your baby isn't REGRESSING but PROGRESSING! From the day your child enters this world they are tiny little sponges, soaking up EVERYTHING around them. So, when baby has a setback at bedtime, wakes during the night or struggles with naps it's because SO much is going on in their little brains that they just can't sleep or, they're testing out a new skill that they just learned. Practice makes perfect, right? It's just that sometimes their practice takes place in the middle of the night. Rude.

So what can you do about it?

Stay the course and remain consistent with your bedtime boundaries (whatever you set those to be). In order to get through this little sleep hiccup, baby needs to know that the routine is still there. In fact, sticking to a routine or schedule during this lapse in sleep will make everything go back to "normal" as quick as possible. If you suspect teething is the culprit, all the more better to stick to your plan. Sleep aids in SO many things like immune response and temperament so, treat any night wakings or early risings as you usually would and help baby get back to business sooner rather than later. By giving new responses to new behaviours, you could confuse baby and ultimately lead to a bigger issue down the road.

Embrace the early bedtime! If junior had a rough night and follows that with a rough day, there is no shame and definitely no harm in putting them down for an earlier bedtime. In fact, baby is probably pretty overtired by this point and could use a few extra hours of shut-eye! When baby starts to experience these "regressions" it usually doesn't last for more than a few nights. For a tired parent, that can seem like an eternity (trust me, I know)! It is SO hard to accept in the thick of it that normal child sleep doesn't just become perfect after sleep training and that your baby is bound to have a bad night (or three) on occasion, heck even you have a rough night here and there, things will get better!

If this milestone has been disrupting baby's sleep for longer than 2 weeks, we should talk. Bad nights here and there are par for the course once you become a parent. That does NOT mean you need to "suck it up" or "get used to it", but that you should have some realistic expectations around your child's sleep. The milestones that affect sleep usually don't last for longer than a week. If things are still going poorly after 2 or more weeks it may be time to reset some of the parameters that have become baby's new norm.

Want to talk to me some more about "sleep regressions"? Book a FREE call now!!!

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