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Sleep Regressions

Navigating Sleep Regressions

As a new parent, you may have experienced the bliss of your baby sleeping peacefully through the night, only to find that their sleep patterns suddenly change. This phase, known as a 'sleep regression', can be challenging for both babies and parents alike. In this article, we provide a guide on understanding sleep regressions, practical tips to handle them effectively, and strategies to promote healthy sleep habits in babies and toddlers that have worked for us. Remember that every child is unique so always do what works best for you and your little one!

Understanding Sleep Regressions

A 'Sleep regression' refers to a period when a baby or toddler, who previously slept well, starts waking up frequently during the night and having difficulty settling back to sleep. It can occur at various stages of a child's development, typically around:

- 4 months: This regression is often associated with changes in sleep cycles and increased awareness of their surroundings.

- 8-10 months: Around this time, separation anxiety and developmental leaps can disrupt sleep.

- 18 months: Toddlerhood brings newfound independence, leading to sleep disturbances.

Tips to Handle Sleep Regressions

1. Stick to a Consistent Sleep Routine

Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine can help signal to your baby that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. A calming routine may include activities like a warm bath, gentle massage, and reading a bedtime story.

2. Create a Soothing Sleep Environment

Ensure that your baby's sleep environment is conducive to restful sleep. Keep the room dimly lit, maintain a comfortable temperature, and use white noise to drown out any disruptive sounds.

3. Respond with Comfort

When your baby wakes up during sleep regression, respond with comfort and reassurance. Offer gentle soothing, such as patting or rocking, to help them settle back to sleep without forming new sleep associations.

4. Avoid Introducing Sleep Props

While it may be tempting to use sleep props like dummies or rocking to help your baby sleep during regression, be cautious not to create new dependencies that may be difficult to break later on. The dummy falling out every hour and having to get up to put it back in my baby's mouth during his first sleep regression was tough!

5. Be Patient and Consistent

Sleep regressions are a temporary phase, and it's important to remember this and to remain patient and consistent in your approach to sleep, although it's tough.

Strategies for Promoting Healthy Sleep Habits

1. Encourage Daytime Naps

Adequate daytime naps are essential for a well-rested baby. Ensure your baby has a consistent nap schedule and create a peaceful environment for napping. An overtired baby and a sleep regression is a big combo..!

2. Establish a Bedtime Routine

Consistency is key to establishing healthy sleep habits. Set a regular bedtime and follow a calming routine to help your baby transition to sleep easily.

3. Monitor Sleep Cues

Observe your baby's sleep cues and respond promptly. Overtiredness can make a sleep regression worse, so aim to put your baby down for sleep at the first signs of tiredness.

4. Offer Transitional Objects

As your baby grows, they may find comfort in a special toy or small blanket. A transitional object can provide a sense of security and familiarity during sleep.

5. Encourage Self-Soothing

As your baby grows older, encourage self-soothing skills. Give them the opportunity to fall asleep independently, but be there to offer comfort if needed. This was a gamechanger for us!

Seeking Professional Help

If a sleep regression persists you could consider seeking advice from a paediatrician or sleep consultant. They could offer you with personalised guidance and support to help your baby and yourself get back on track to restful nights.

Sleep regressions are a natural phase in a baby's development, and though it can be challenging, it is temporary. By understanding the triggers and implementing strategies to handle sleep regression effectively, you can support your baby in developing healthy sleep habits. Remember that every child is unique, and this phase is temporary. You and your baby will navigate this phase and find restful nights once again, even though it may not seem like it!

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