If you’ve been parenting for a while you may already be hip to the whole sleep regression thing. However, if you’re new to the parenting world you’re either trying to figure out what it is or trying to figure out why your baby keeps waking up throughout the night. For the parents that just want to know what’s going on, your baby has hit their first sleep regression.
Light Sleep Vs. Deep Sleep
Sleep regression is when a newborn begins to develop the first 2 stages of their sleep cycle. In the beginning, babies don’t have any sleep patterns at all. They sleep deeply all the time. When babies fall asleep they immediately go into deep sleep. Deep sleep refers to the last stages of the sleep cycle, stages 3 & 4. They sleep in these stages until around 4 months old. This is why babies can sleep through anything. Then around 4 months of age, the baby’s brain begins to mature, it causes their sleep patterns to change. This is when the baby begins to cycle in and out light sleep (stages 1&2) and deep sleep (stages 3&4). Remember up until this point, your baby has only been in deep sleep. Now that they are experiencing light sleep they will wake up more frequently from time to time. As an adult, we can slightly wake up to roll over and go right back to sleep. Unfortunately for babies, they’ll just wake back up until they get adjusted to their sleep cycles.
Can This Be Avoided?
I hate to burst your bubble, but this can not be avoided. This is a developmental milestone, even though this isn’t a milestone anyone wants to celebrate. However, you can be prepared for it happens. When your baby hits the 3-month mark, you might want to start noticing exactly how your baby falls asleep. Are they use to being rocked or nursed to sleep? Do you swaddle them or give them a pacifier to fall asleep? Once you identify your babies sleep association you can begin to wean them off it. This will help you to teach your baby how to fall asleep on their own.
There are a lot of methods out there to help your baby fall asleep on their own. Many of them depend on your family’s circumstances, your baby’s temperament, and your parenting philosophy. The simple way is to put your baby to bed when they are drowsy, but slightly awake. This allows them to learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. So, when they start going through their sleep regression they should be able to put themselves back to sleep if they wake up during the night…. hopefully!
Already in the Sleep Regression Phase?
Okay! Now this part is for those of you who have little ones that are already in the sleep regression phase. If you’re up late Googling this trying to find some useful tips for getting your baby back to sleep this is for you.
Below you’ll find 6 tips and tricks to help you get through this phase:
Try a weighted blanket
Weighted blankets are a great way to get your baby to sleep and helping them sleep just a tad bit longer. The gentle weight on the chest and sides mimic touch and gives comfort. A weighted blanket is also a great way to teach your baby how to self-soothe and fall back asleep on their own.
Make it dark!
Your baby’s environment plays a huge role in how they sleep. Most parents don’t want to put their babies in a dark room, but darker is actually better. Newborns aren’t afraid of the dark. That is typically developed in early to late childhood. Babies are very responsive to light. Light tells their brain it’s time to be alert and active. Which is everything we don’t want when we want them to go to sleep or go back to sleep. So, don’t feel bad when putting them in a dark room. It will signal them to start being less active.
Keep it quiet!
This is easier said than done right?! Between the mailman, outside traffic, and the noise from your favorite show, there is a lot things that can wake up your baby. So, how do you compete with that? Remember that old saying “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ’em”. Well that fits in this case. You can put a white noise machine in your baby’s room! This will help to mask all the other noise in your home. A white noise machine will also help your baby to fall asleep on their own too.
Adjust your baby’s bedtime
Sleep regression also impacts your baby’s nap time. You may have noticed that your baby is taking less naps and the naps they are taking may even be shorter. It’s all thanks to sleep regression. You may need to compensate for the shorter and fewer naps by putting them to bed a little earlier. You may even have to eliminate the last nap of the day all together. That way your baby should be tired enough to start the bedtime routine you already have.
Feed as much as you need
Sometimes sleep regression coincides with a growth spurt. You may notice your baby’s appetite may have increased. If they wake up hungry go ahead and feed as needed. Feeding them may even help them sleep a little bit longer.