Who slept peacefully for 12 hours a night.
And then…they stop!
We may stand on an island alone when we tell you that we honestly believed that once a baby slept through the night you would never look back to the joys of multiple night wakings.
Welp, when our twins were born, we quickly learned how wrong we were.
Unfortunately folks, sleep regression is real and it plays a mean joke on exhausted mamas everywhere!
Has a Sleep Regression Sleep-napped Your Baby?
Are your babies generally sleeping through the night and suddenly something has shifted?
Are you now dealing with numerous night wakings, increased crankiness or nap protesting?
Have you eliminated the possibility of new teeth or illness?
We know that you have been completely blindsided by the return of your extreme exhaustion, but the good news is that a sleep regression is temporary, usually only lasting 1-4 weeks (maybe up to 6).
It can be a rather challenging period of time for parents, but a few survival tactics (temporary bad habits they may be) will get you through…remember it’s not permanent!
And if you are really damn lucky, you will have one of those rare babies who soar through sleep regressions like a breeze, leaving your sleeping family mostly unscathed!
When and Why Does My Baby Go Through a Sleep Regression?
There are 5 different points where children may experience sleep regressions, although you must remember that it isn’t a perfect science. Some babies may show few signs of sleep regression and others will drive you to drink a few extra glasses of wine each night.
Although challenging to your sanity, sleep regressions are short lived and related to the cognitive and physical development of your sweet baby.
Understanding when and why you may encounter sleep challenges throughout infancy will help you to feel prepared and capable of getting through it.
And as long as you avoid band-aiding the problem with bad sleep habits, you will all go back to peaceful nights before you know it!
4 MONTHS –
Don’t panic when we tell you this, but the changes that occur during this sleep regression are PERMANENT (meaning that babies are sleeping less like a newborn, spending most of their time in a deep sleep, and more like an adult). Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you won’t regain a full night’s sleep, but it does mean that you will need to begin working with your babe to learn healthy habits that will benefit them for life!
Around 4 months your baby may begin waking up every 2-3 hours, much like they are a newborn again. Babies are beginning to understand their place in the world, easily distracted by all the new sights and sounds. During the 3-4 weeks of inconsistent night wakings, be extremely cognizant of age appropriate wake times to avoid a overtired baby who will have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep during the night.
And once you are through the worst of this sleep regression, you want to begin working with your baby to teach them good sleep habits and break any sleep associations they may have.
8-10 MONTHS –
There are several reasons for experiencing a sleep regression around 8, 9 or 10 months of age which include the advancement of their gross motor skills as well as an impending nap transition.
Your kiddo is beginning to cruise around and pull themselves up, which is an exciting discovery for any little one.
Cognitively, your baby is soaking up language they hear in the world around them.
Babies around this age are approaching a nap transition, typically moving from 3 naps to 2. Again, be careful that your kiddo isn’t becoming overtired by offering them an additional nap on days when 2 naps don’t seem to be enough.
And let’s not forget about babies who are getting teeth around this age. It’s not the sole reason for a sleep regression, but it definitely is a contributing factor.
That’s quite a lot for a little one to go through, which obviously explains sleep challenges during this time in their lives!
12 MONTHS –
This one could be a bit earlier or a bit later depending on when your little one begins to walk. Learning that new skill and having a new vantage point on life keeps kiddos more excited to be walking around rather than sleeping. Simple enough, right?
THE TERRIBLE TWOS –
Ahhhh, toddlerhood! Such a fun and beautifully challenging age. More than likely, this will be your child’s last sleep regression due to the fact that kiddos are learning to be more independent and assertive. We know that the bedtime and nap time battles are enough to drive you batty, but whatever you do, hold your ground and keep your routines consistent. Set the stage for sleep and always offer a nap to keep them as well rested as possible. You can’t force your children to sleep, but you can be sure that they at least have the opportunity!
So How Does a Mama Survive A Sleep Regression?
You will probably feel a bit shell shocked and wonder what the heck happened to your beloved sleep (even if your baby’s sleep habits are a bit shaky to begin with).
It happens to everyone.
Yes the levels of severity may vary, but babies sleep will regress as they develop. So knowing that, arm yourself by knowing what to possibly expect and how to manage the short, but frustrating period of time by:
Keep calm and sleep on:
A sleep regression is temporary, only lasting a week or two. Don’t panic! Keep your wits about you and remember what you know about sleep in infants. Honor age appropriate wake windows and napping schedules, have a strong sleep time routine and set the stage for sleep by creating the perfect sleep environment from the very beginning.
Don’t let the temporary problem become permanent:
Once you have determined that you are indeed experiencing a sleep regression rather than something like illness or teething, know that it is ok to make small adjustments for the sake of sleep. Be aware, however, that the sleep regression is temporary. Ultimately, you want your babies to fall asleep on their own and learn to soothe themselves back to sleep if they wake intermittently at night. Small adjustments can quickly turn into challenging sleep associations when they continue after a sleep regression has come and gone.
Fill those bellies:
Sleep regressions are often associated with growth spurts. Offer extra feedings where you feel they are needed, cluster feed or even consider temporarily introducing a dream feed until you get things back on track.
We cannot say it enough mama, just remember this too shall pass!
Don’t forget the GOLDEN RULE – Sleep Begets Sleep:
Sleep regressions often equates lack of sleep, both for you and your babies. Help your little ones catch up on lost sleep by continuing to offer naps or early bedtimes. Mamas, now may be the perfect time to toss everyone in the car for a drive around town, if you know what we mean…wink, wink!
But Wait…What Do You Do When You Have Two?
Although we would encourage you to be sure that you are keeping your routine in tact, which includes the sleep environment, having twins can throw an even bigger wrench in things. It is unlikely that your twins will hit a sleep regression at the same time, so you may want to consider separating them until their sleep seems to be back in sync.
Allow the babe navigating their way through the sleep regression to stay in their normal sleep environment and move the other kiddo to a temporary location. As difficult as the separation may feel for you mama, we promise you, it will help ease your stress while you are working through these challenges.
Just be sure that you recreate the sleep environment from your twins’ nursery as best as you can for the baby who is temporarily sleeping elsewhere.
Sleep is different for every kiddo at every age.
If mastering the art of sleep were so simple, you wouldn’t be reading this and we wouldn’t be writing this.
Do your best and prepare to be patient and flexible during sleep regressions. Just as all things parenting, hang on for the wild ride and be ready to adapt. You will back to sleeping soundly and tackling new challenges in no time. You’ve got this!
We’d love to hear about your experiences with sleep regressions. What tricks have been successful? What have you done to survive the challenging time?
Chat with us in the comments below!