Your baby goes from sleeping through the night, to suddenly waking several times a night. She can't fall asleep, or stay asleep. She fights naps, bedtime, and wakes frequently at night, often crying. Your baby is clingy, cranky and super needy during the day. You have ruled out illness, teething, and it's lasting way longer than a few day growth spurt. The 4 month sleep regression is the most common, but unfortunately there are more…
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So what do you do?
1.) Try your best to stick to your bedtime routine to keep things consistent. You may have to make minor adjustments during a regression, but you don't want to completely change your routine, this will only confuse your little one even more.
2.) Extra comfort during this time. Extra hugs and kisses. Try your best to settle your baby.
3.) Don't let your baby cry. Respond to her need. She's telling you she's confused, tired, and doesn't know what to do with all these new ideas in her head. Respond to her, distract her, let her know it's ok and that you are there beside her, to help her through this.
4.) Pull out your bag of tricks (most of which you probably used when your baby was newborn). White noise, bouncer, binky, "lovey", whatever it takes to get your baby to sleep. You both need sleep, otherwise you will find it very difficult to make it through several week of this.
5.) Lullabies work great to calm your baby down before bed, and to slow down all that brain work. Try incorporating a few lullabies in your bedtime routine. Brianna's favorite was Baby Einstein Lullabies.
6.) Give your baby some practice time during the day to master her new skill. Let her roll around on the carpet or mat. Encourage tummy time if she's having a hard time rolling off her tummy. Help her out with crawling, with activities like these Toys for Crawling Babies.
7.) Remember a sleep regression doesn't last forever, on average 2-6 weeks. The 8 month sleep regression usually lasts the longest because of all the physical development. Keep reminding yourself that this will pass, and your life will be back to normal soon.
8.) Sometimes there's not much you can do, but just tough it out. Stay strong, don't get frustrated, and take naps during the day to be handle the rough night
I have been through this and it's not pretty. My baby went from sleeping 12 hours to suddenly waking several times a night. I was so confused and frustrated, until my Pediatrician told me about the regression. Made total sense to me once it was explained. Brianna's sleep regression only lasted 2-3 weeks. I thought to myself "I have been through months of not sleeping, I can sure handle a couple weeks". So I just cuddled her more, responded right away, and even gave her extra feedings. I was so afraid that the extra feedings would be a major set back. I thought I would have to start sleep training all over again, but I knew she needed it during that time. I knew that since she had already mastered the skills of falling asleep independently for several weeks, she would go back to that once the regression was over. And guess what? That's exactly what happened. Once she worked out whatever she was working on in her little noggin, she immediately went back to sleeping 12 hours a night.
I look at a sleep regression like when you first bring your baby home from the hospital. Anything goes at that point, anything she needs you provide. No set rules. So that the both of you get some sleep, otherwise you will slowly start to lose your sanity. Don't be afraid that you are going to have to start sleep training all over. Like I said, once your baby already has those skills, the most that you will have to do is remind her, not start all over. However, keep in mind that a baby has to have those skills of independent sleep and good sleep habits in place to be able to return to that after a regression. If a baby was always a bad sleeper, or always needed rocking, feeding, and other props to sleep, this usually tends to get worse during and after a regression. In this case your baby will need some help to get on the right track...
Sleep Training During a Regression
Sleep regressions are tricky and many times parents offer extra feedings, rocking, and soothing, just to get through this dreaded regression. Some babies become reliant on this extra help, especially babies that didn't sleep that well to begin with. There's no need to put off sleep training during a regression. As a matter of fact sleep training will actually help your baby breeze right through a regression. You just have to consider the developmental milestones your baby is going through, so that you can respond appropriately to the wakings. As a sleep consultant, that is exactly what I help parents with. If you are having trouble getting your little one to sleep well, and don't know how to handle your baby's sleep troubles during a regression, I would be glad to help! You can definitely get your baby to sleep well, even during a regression. View the Sleep Consultation Page-->.