This is what a typical sleep regression looks like:
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 way longer than a few day growth spurt.
A sleep regression most commonly presents itself at around 4 months, 9 months, and 12 months. This is around the time that your baby is going through some major milestones: rolling, sitting, standing, crawling, walking etc. What's actually happening with your baby is pretty interesting. Your baby is going through tremendous cognitive development. She is learning new skills and is practicing them in her head. Over and over, until they finally master the skill, which usually then terminates the sleep regression. Your baby's brain during this time is in overdrive. Try to imagine for a minute what you feel like the night before a big event like going away on a vacation, or the night before your wedding. You stay up all night thinking about everything, making sure you don't forget anything. You toss and turn, and keep looking at the clock. It keeps getting later and later and no matter what you do, you can't turn off your thoughts and just fall asleep. You start to get angry which makes it even harder to fall asleep. At this point you just want to scream! The next day you are over tired, cranky and just want to crawl back into your bed. This is exactly what's going on with your baby. Your baby can't turn off the brain work. She tries to soothe herself to sleep like she always did, but that doesn't seem to work. She often wakes up crying and screaming for your help, because she can't do it on her own. Your baby becomes overtired from all of this interrupted sleep, and ends up being cranky all day long.
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 strongly believed 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'll slowly start to lose your sanity. Don't be afraid that your going to have to start sleep training all over. Like I said, once your baby already has those skills, the most that you'll have to do is remind her, not start all over.
If it has already been several weeks and your baby is still waking up frequently or relying on you to fall asleep, there may be other sleep issues causing this. Take advantage of the free sleep assessment HERE. You will get a detailed report back within a few minutes on what might be going on, and how you could fix it. This a wonderful tool and it's the first step I took to get Brianna sleeping through the night. Good luck and hang in there!
My next article Baby Just Won't Sleep!
So you decided that enough is enough! You need your sleep and sanity back! And the only way to do that is by creating some structure in your baby's sleep routine. Well sleep training will do just that. Learn more about How Sleep Training Can Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night. You don't have to think of sleep training as some harsh means of controlling your baby. And you certainly don't have to hear your baby cry all night. In fact, there doesn't have to be much crying at all. There are many things you can do to help your baby get to sleep, and stay asleep.
Here are some of my best sleep training tips:
- The best place to start is a solid, and consistent bedtime routine, at a decent hour. This will help teach your baby predictability. The more your baby knows what's coming, the more likely she will accept it. You can start with something simple like a bath and reading a book. It doesn't have to be anything complex. As long as it is the same routine, every night, at the same time. Eventually your baby will get use to this routine and know it's time to go to bed.
- Create a good sleep environment. This may include things such as: room darkening shades, swaddling (if your baby is young), comfortable jammies, proper room temperature. Anything you can do to make your baby as comfortable as can be, to promote a restful night's sleep.
- The next thing is a biggie. What I always try to teach parents is to put your baby down to sleep "drowsy but awake". This may be a little difficult, but it is essential to getting your baby sleeping through the night. Your baby has to learn the skills to fall asleep independently, so that she may do the same when she wakes in the middle of the night. A baby that falls asleep by rocking or nursing, will expect the same thing when she wakes at night. Since babies have many short sleep cycles, they wake a lot. So I'm pretty sure you don't want to keep running in your baby's room to rock or nurse her back to sleep all night. Do yourself and your baby a favor, and put her down to sleep awake. It's the best thing you can do for your baby's sleep.
- The next important step, is to find a sleep training method or program that works for you and your family. Sleep training is not easy, and neither is teaching your baby to fall asleep independently. It's going to take major work and you're going to need help, there's nothing wrong with that! There are many programs out there to choose from. Some involve letting your baby cry, others involve little or no tears. To make a decision on which one is best for you and your baby, ask yourself these questions? Are you comfortable with letting your child cry it out until they fall asleep? Or would you be more comfortable with going in to comfort your baby? There are some programs that utilize both crying and comforting, but if you feel uncomfortable with letting your baby cry at all, then make sure your research first. Think long and hard about how you want to do this, because once you start, you're going to have to be firm and consistent. I highly recommend the Sleep Sense Program. I wrote a review on it here. If you don't want to buy a program, you can try a variety of different methods created by "sleep experts" to see what works, but this may take a lot more time and patience. It will be a trial and error kind of thing. To learn more about those methods refer to my article Sleep Training: No Cry Methods . There are many choices, pick something you feel comfortable with, and something you can actually see yourself committing to.
- The last, and most important piece of advice I can offer, is to be consistent and don't give up! Whichever program or method you choose, no matter how hard it gets, and how badly you want to give up, stick to it! If your baby takes and hour to fall asleep the first night and 50 minutes the next, that's progress. Take every day at a time, don't look too far ahead and hope your baby is going to be sleeping through the night within a few days. Sleep training takes time, patience, and commitment. And think about what your poor baby is going through, this isn't easy for her either. Your baby wants to be able to just fall asleep and stay asleep just as much as you want her to. It's a process, you have to go through together. If your lucky, you can sleep train your baby within a week, but for most, it's going to take a bit longer. It's not easy, but I promise you the uninterrupted and blissful night's sleep, makes it all worth it in the end. Good luck, happy sleep training!
For more help and information on how to get your baby to sleep through the night, please take a look at my Personal Consultation Packages
Sleep deprivation... UGH. There’s a reason it’s commonly used as a form of torture! When your baby keeps you up all night long and you can’t get more than two or three hours of shut-eye at a time, it can feel like your whole world is falling apart. You’re exhausted. You can’t think straight. Your nerves are completely frayed. In other words, you’re not exactly at your parenting best. And your child isn’t at his or her best, either. When babies and children don’t get a full night’s rest, everything is harder for them. They are fussy and cranky all day. They don’t eat right. Learning basic skills is more challenging. Sleep deprivation just starts to take a toll on the whole family.
I used to have a lot of trouble getting Brianna to sleep well at night. For months, she’d go to bed really late, then wake me up four or five times a night, demanding to be fed back to sleep. It was a nightmare! She was cranky, and I was sleep-deprived and exhausted! Through the midst of all my crazy research on how to get her to sleep through the night, I came across the Sleep Sense site. It's run by Dana Obleman a professional sleep coach who created the Sleep Sense Program. I started reading, and a lot of the things she was saying described to a T what was going on with Brianna. So I immediately took the free customized sleep plan. I have to be honest, at first I was a little bit weary about this site, and the way it is advertised, sort of "sales pitch" style. But I am so glad I tried her methods. The first night it took Brianna 1 hour to fall asleep on her own, by the 3rd night we were down to 5 minutes. Brianna was a very difficult case at 8 months old, with many sleep associations, and Dana's methods worked wonders for our family. She uses a very gentle and effective approach. If you have been reading my blog you know I'm totally against CIO, this is why I highly recommend it. I would never risk losing credibility on my blog by posting about some bogus program. It's really hard to trust any program guaranteeing your baby to sleep through the night, but at least this one will give you your money back if your baby doesn't.
I’m also Dana’s friend on Facebook and have seen a lot of really great comments about her sleep training methods. Those are real people on there and real comments, no marketing and no gimmicks. And as you can see from the testimonials and success stories on her site, she’s obviously helped a huge number of families finally get a good night’s sleep! Here is a comment a Father...yes a Father posted on her page. It's kind of long but I just had to share.
"Not sure if this is a real email address or not, but I wanted to send a response. My wife and I have been struggling with our 5-month old to sleep (naps and at night) since we brought her home. She rarely slept more than an hour at a time at night and rarely napped for more than 30 minutes during the day. We have been suffering from sleep deprivation for many weeks, and although I think we inherently knew we were doing something wrong, we were simply too tired to think straight.
I signed up for your program yesterday morning after a HORRIBLE sleepless night and forwarded the user and password information to my wife at home. She began reading the material almost immediately and called me in tears saying how many mistakes we've committed and bad habits we've instilled in our daughter. The way you laid it out really made sense to us and gave us hope from the very beginning. We read the material together aloud yesterday evening and put the bedtime routine into action last night.
We're not naive enough to believe all is well instantly, but after a 45 minutes of mixed screaming-crying-sobbing...Abi
Your program is not rocket science. The principles are simple and straightforward--as were reading we kept saying "that makes total sense." The value in your program is the way you lay it out, the plain language you use to describe your ideas, and the kind way you point out the mistakes we're making. Thank you very much for making your product available...what a difference a day can make.
This morning, I drank a cup of coffee because I like the taste...not because I needed it to stay awake on the drive to work.
May God watch over you and bless you and your family."
Jonathan and Patricia
This is why I recommend the Sleep Sense program, many other programs just sound like gimmicks to me. This is a program created by a real mom, just trying to help other sleep deprived moms. I constantly see nothing but great things being said about this program and Dana Obleman herself. And by the way, she has helped over 32,000 people with a success rate of 93% in getting babies to sleep through the night. That's pretty impressive! I don't think any other program could offer that. And like I said, I would never lose credibility on my blog which has so many loyal readers, by recommending something bogus. I'm just really, really, impressed with this program. I just had to review and share it. Here's more information on the program and some cool tips: www.sleepsense.net