November 10, 2016

Sleep Regression is a Learning Curve

As a new mom, sleep deprivation becomes part of the daily routine, but there is always a glimmer of hope that one day your sweet baby will sleep through the night and you can get back to your own healthy sleep patterns. Around three to four months old, your infant’s sleep will probably regress, but don’t lose hope, this just means your baby’s brain is beginning to mature and develop sleep patterns. Sleep regression is a learning curve for both you and your infant.

Babies seem to have the ability to sleep through anything and then one day they won’t! At around four months old, an infant begins to develop healthy changes in her sleeping patterns and cycles between light and deep sleep. Before this change, she spent almost all of her slumber within the deep sleep phase, which is why you could vacuum or play loud music and not hear a peep from your infant. During the sleep regression stage, she might take shorter naps during the day, wake up more at night, and have difficulty falling back asleep. So, what is a tired mom to do?

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First of all, know that a child will go through many stages in their development and this is just another normal, healthy stage that won’t last forever. Well, actually, the matured sleep will last forever, but the sleep regression phase will pass. Your baby’s sleep patterns are transitioning and starting to mirror the sleep pattern of an adult. Although you are probably utterly exhausted and frustrated, you will need to find a way to survive this stage and encourage your baby’s development.

Everyone has advice about how to help your baby sleep, but you know your baby best. Continue doing your mom thing and help your infant fall asleep however you have been doing it up until this point. Keep a routine. A sleep routine may help your baby to make sense that it is time to go to sleep. The routine can include a bath, story, white noise, swaddle, rocking, or whatever works for your family. There will be time later to wean your baby from being rocked or nursed to sleep, often called sleep associations.

baby-303071_640Your baby will eventually need to learn how to put herself back to sleep once she wakes up. Most parents don’t like to hear their baby cry, but in this case you may want to give your little one some time to fuss and see if she can soothe herself back to sleep. Put your baby down when she is drowsy so she can get the hang of how to slumber without sleep associations. Make sure the room is dark so your baby knows it is not time to wake up until it is light outside. It will take some practice because sleeping through the night is a developmental and learned skill.

Be patient with yourself and your baby as her sleep patterns change and mature. The sleep regression phase won’t last forever, but the sleep tools you are giving your baby will last her entire life.