Why Isn't My Baby Sleeping Anymore?
Sleep Regressions and How to Get Through Them
What are sleep regressions?
“Sleep regression” is a term used to describe a period of time where a baby who was previously sleeping through the night, or at least 5 hours at a time, is suddenly waking up multiple times when they would generally be asleep. You might also notice your little one is cranky, more fussy than usual, and has a change in appetite.
What causes sleep regressions?
When we hear that a baby is not sleeping and fussy we often write it off as a growth spurt or teething; however, sleep regressions are thought to be caused by the development of new skills in your ever changing baby. The prospect of mastering a new skill and the excitement of finally succeeding can leave them all wound up and can make sleep difficult.
When do sleep regressions occur?
The 4 Month Sleep Regression
Your baby is beginning to notice more of the world around them and it is just so exciting that they can't bear to look away for a minute! You suddenly find keeping them focused while they eat is a challenge and you seek out dark, quiet rooms to help them stay on task. Suddenly that solid sleep you were just getting used to again is interrupted. Baby is so fussy and just wants to eat. Let them! They are probably eating less during the day while they are soaking up the busy world around them. You need the nighttime feedings just as much as they do to keep your supply up.
During this time they are also starting to enter two different cycles of sleep, active sleep and deep sleep. In the active stage they are more likely to wake up and need some help falling back asleep until they figure it out for themselves.
This particular sleep regression is more prevalent in breastfed babies. Bottle fed babies have more of an opportunity to look around while eating. That doesn't mean it never happens to bottle fed babies though!
This regression generally lasts 2-4 weeks. I know that can seem like a lifetime but it will end eventually!
The 8-10 Month Sleep Regression
Don't freak out! This regression doesn't last three months, only 3-6 weeks! This is just the general time frame of when it will begin. This regression will normally begin right around the time your baby learns to pull themselves up and crawl. Think about all the brain development that has to come along with suddenly being able to move around on your own. It must be thrilling to have a small amount of control over where you get to go finally. No wonder they can't seem to settle down.
It is completely normal for them to want mommy or daddy to hold them a little bit more than they used to before. After all you're not carrying them everywhere anymore!
Also it is common that they will want to drop their usual 3rd nap around now.
The 12 Month Sleep Regression
This regression is not as common as the others and generally only nap time is affected. You might find your new toddler is fighting their naps more and more and attempting to drop their 2nd nap of the day. Try not to let that happen. They still need the extra sleep until around 15 months.
The 18 Month Sleep Regression
Your toddler is probably beginning to hold their own cup, feed themselves, and they can now choose their own activities. They are becoming more and more independent and as their independence increases so does their anxiety about being separated from you. Separation anxiety peeks around this age. They are also learning to exert their own wills. They can now consciously choose not to go to sleep. This can lead to them being overtired and every one around them being cranky. Be patient! It should only be a few weeks until they get back into their normal routine.
The 2 Year Sleep Regression
Your toddler could now be moving into their “big kid” bed or tackling the daunting task of learning how to use the potty. Both of these things are a big deal developmentally wise. They are awake more than they used to be as the amount of sleep they need drops back to 10 ½ to 11 hours. They might insist that they don't need to take a nap anymore; although, its probably not quite time to drop it. At this age nightmares begin to occur and they can even turn into night terrors. Growing up can be scary!
How do you deal with a sleep regression?
Don't make habits you don't plan on keeping.
If you know you don't want to co-sleep now is not a good time to start.
Don't compound on habits you already have in place.
For example: If you already feed to sleep, do not start feeding AND rocking to sleep.
Don't be afraid to call in back up.
If you didn't sleep all night and its now 9 A.M. and you know your little one isn't about to fall back asleep call a sitter and catch a few hours of shut eye.
Don't Cry It Out.
The Cry It Out method can have harmful effects on your child's well-being.
To learn more about the effects of the CIO method you can read our article here:
Remember: This is a completely normal part of their growth and development. This will eventually end. You will eventually be able to sleep a little.
All of the above information has been gathered from the following certified sleep consultants: Kim West “The Sleep Lady”, the team at “The Baby Sleep Site”, Melissa Perry “The Cradle Coach”, and Jan Barger, RN, MA, IBCLC.