Aren’t Sleep Regressions fun? This statement is said, of course, with a huge helping of sarcasm. I mean, who wants to be sleep deprived and grumpy? Certainly not me.
For those new to the world of baby sleep, a sleep regression is, put simply, when sleep goes to hell and there is nothing you can do about it. Baby starts resisting naps and bedtime, wakes more frequently during the night and is just an all round grump. They are the result of baby hitting developmental milestones and often coincide with things like teething and growth spurts.
Sleep regressions seem to come at predictable times:
Four Months – This is not a true sleep regression but whatever sleep changes and habits baby has during this stage are permanent. This is when most babies learn to roll over and are no longer immune to ambient noises or goings on. I remember saying it was as if Willow’s brain had suddenly switched on to her environment and it was difficult for her to focus on sleep when so much was going on around her. This article on the subject is great
Eight Months – This sleep regression is a true regression in that it will pass and sleep should return to normal. It normally hits when baby starts doing fun things like crawling, pulling to standing and learning to walk. Also this is a period of language acquisition for babies and that has an impact on sleep too. For a lot of babies this sleep regression also coincides with teething. This sleep regression can hit anywhere from seven to 10 months of ages – depending on your child’s development – and can last from two to six weeks!
12 Months – I obviously haven’t gone through this one yet, but have found through my research that this is to do with nap transitions. toddlers often try to drop their second nap at this age, but many aren’t ready to. This plays havoc with their sleep.
18 Months – Again have no personal experience with this,. but have learned that it coincides with the language boom that toddlers go through at this age.
This post is mostly about the Eight Month Sleep Regression and is here to let you know other moms are going through it, you are not alone, you will survive it and you won’t murder your sleep deprived, cranky angel in the process.
The thing I keep reminding myself at 3am as I am trying desperately to get Willow to go back to sleep is that this is as tough on the baby as it is on you. The only way through a regression is through it, but it will pass! (not an easy thing to believe at 3am when you are frustrated and exhausted.)
As I have previously written (here, here and here) Willow, got sick, has been diagnosed with seasonal allergies and cut six teeth in quick succession so the poor tot has had a lot to deal with. When all these goings on in her life coincided with her learning to crawl our sleep went to hell in a hand basket.
She is now a demonic creature of evil (I joke) who resists naps, wakes up every two to three hours and is cranky as all get out during the day. Also she lost her appetite and has lost a bit of weight.
I can see the child is tired. She yawns and rubs her eyes so hard her whole face turns red. But she will fight me every step of the way at sleep time. She will squint her eyes and blink rapidly in an effort to not sleep. Just as she’s falling asleep she will suddenly start squirming, arching her back, craning her neck and groaning – and she’s strong! I am terrified one day she will squirm right out of my arms!
After a 45 to 60 minute fight to get her to sleep her naps are usually short – like 30 minutes short – and night time sleep is fragmented and punctuated with long periods of awake time. This is often the point where I lose my cool!
All you can do during a sleep regression is try and keep to your usual sleep time routines and methods (don’t create new bad habits that you have to deal with later!) but that said do what you must to get some sleep (we have reverted back to nursing. I will have to start tackling that problem soon). Remember you are the parent and are supposed to be rational. you cannot negotiate, or fight with an instinctive, irrational being. Hold strong she will give in eventually.
Remember this is not forever. It will pass and your baby will sleep again.
If you would like some reading on the subject I found these article incredibly helpful:
Also you can change sleep habits and sleep train during a sleep regression (after all with babies if its not one thing then its another!). In my experience the best tactic to to go slow and be gentle. We weaned Willow of the swaddle during a sleep regression – it just took a while and a bit of trial and error but we managed.
If you’re looking for a gentle method of sleep training I highly recommend the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. We are busy using some of her ideas now and I am seeing a difference.