Coping with Sleep Regression - Get Through Your Baby’s Sleep Regression

Updated Jun 20th 2022 | timer 7  min read

How to Get Through Your Baby’s Sleep Regression
Mandy Treeby

Written By Mandy Treeby Chief Baby Sleep Consultant

Sleep regressions can be incredibly frustrating. Your baby seems to be sleeping well and then, all of a sudden, they’re waking night after night. In addition to disrupting your sleep, sleep regressions are troubling because sleep is so vital to your baby’s development, and you want to make sure they’re getting the downtime they need to grow up healthy. Rest assured that sleep regressions are brief and temporary and, yes, actually a positive development!

Of course, we understand dealing with sleeplessness isn’t easy. Thankfully there are tools out there to help - for example, the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™. Co-developed with sleep experts, this revolutionary, easy-to-use app offers a range of tools and techniques to help any parent quickly get their baby’s sleep back on track, day or night.


IN THIS ARTICLE:


To help you cope with and handle sleep regressions, we asked the experts at the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ what they recommend to help parents (and their babies) cope with developmental sleep regressions.

How to Cope with Sleep Regressions:

Stick to a Routine

Bedtime routines are a cornerstone of any sleep training practice – these quiet moments both calm your baby and help instill strong sleep habits – and can be incredibly effective at reducing sleep regressions. Best of all, you already know how to do it.

Simply sticking to your regular bedtime routine during sleep regression spells can help realign your baby’s sleep – that’s the power of habit, after all!

Note: whether your routine includes singing to your baby or reading to them before bed, keep in mind it may take a bit longer for your baby to settle and fall asleep during sleep regressions, but, again, they will pass.

Also, sticking with your usual routines will help ensure a smooth return to your baby’s regular sleep schedule when the sleep regression is over.

Create a Relaxing Sleep Environment

A quiet, relaxing room will help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep; this is especially helpful when you’re up against a dreaded sleep regression (like the 4-month sleep regression) and your baby may appear to be fighting sleep or waking more frequently.

There are three very easy things you can do to create a nurturing sleep environment for your baby:

  1. Embrace Darkness: Your baby’s sleep is regulated by their circadian rhythm, a natural process that wakes them and puts them back to bed. This process is in part regulated by light.

    With that in mind, even a little daylight can disrupt your baby’s sleep naps or cause early wake ups (especially during the lighter months of the year), so we recommend using black out curtains that block out any and all light.
  2. Machines: White noise blocks out outside noise or sudden noises and mimics the womb, which can calm your baby during sleep regressions.
  3. Keep it Cool: Studies consistently show that babies – and adults – sleep best in rooms that are 68-72°F. Keeping your little one’s room in this optimal range is ideal to foster sleep.

Provide Daytime Stimulation

You know the phrase “All tuckered out…” Well, it’s true - making sure your baby has plenty of time to play and engage during the day can help them sleep better at night.

Whether it’s going to the zoo to see all the animals, a play date with little friends (helps you get some adult conversation too), or just a trip around the block, you want to make sure your baby is out there, using up their energy and learning about the world.

You also want to make sure to use daytime to grow their skills. For example, if your baby is learning to crawl, help your baby work on this during the day by providing enough time and space on the floor and putting items they want, just out of their reach.

Keeping your baby stimulated during the day gives them a balance of activity, daylight and ideally fresh air – all of which are factors in ensuring they are ready for sleep.

Note: It’s also important to take quiet time before bed to make sure your baby isn’t overstimulated, which would have the opposite effect. That said, save some soothing quiet time that’s sensorially minimal before your bedtime or nap routine.

Learn Your Baby’s Sleep Cues

Understanding your baby’s sleepy cues is an incredibly effective way to ensure you put them down to sleep when they are actually tired, that’s because they “cue” you they are ready for sleep. In short, these cues are your baby’s natural way of telling you they need to rest, physically and mentally.

Signs your baby is tired include:

  • Rubbing their eyes
  • Fussiness
  • Yawning
  • Pulling their ears
  • Turning away from you/avoiding eye contact

Since your baby may be more tired than usual during a sleep regression, watching for their sleepy cues might help you can help you know to move bedtime earlier or maybe offer an extra nap – as and when your baby needs it.

Keeping them awake beyond the point your baby shows sleepy cues can lead to overtiredness, which will make it even harder for them to fall asleep at the next nap or bedtime. Top tip: Sleepy cues are super helpful when you’re managing nap transitions , since naps get a little disrupted during the

Consider Nap Transitions:

After growing past the disorganized newborn sleep stage, by around 4-months your baby will likely take 3 naps a day, this schedule will last until around the 7-month mark when they will drop that 3 rd catnap in the afternoon and settle into a 2-nap schedule, morning and afternoon.

At that point, it’s time to start thinking about nap transitions – reducing their daytime sleeps to help lengthen and strengthen nighttime sleeps.

Tools like the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ will automatically update your baby’s sleep schedule to help you navigate nap transitions smoothly – minimizing disruption to everyone’s sleep.

Practice Self Care:

Remember, your well-being matters here, too.

When your baby loses sleep, you lose sleep, making it harder to juggle your daily routine and manage to parent. That said, whenever possible, enlist some family or friends as babysitters so you can take a moment to rejuvenate.

Whether you have help or not, remember to rest when your baby rests. Yes, that’s a perfect time to do chores or work, but it’s far more important for your baby, and yourself, that you’re feeling as fully charged as possible.

And, yes, you can even take these moments while your baby is awake – simply put them in a safe space and take a moment to yourself. This is perfectly alright, understandable, and, frankly, sometimes necessary.

Remember: Your Baby is Making Progress

Instead of regressions, think of these phases as sleep progressions. Yes, this can be a challenging period, but it’s also so exciting: your baby is learning new skills, growing, and, wow, their little personality is starting to truly shine!

What are Sleep Regressions?

Sleep regressions are brief, temporary periods when your baby wakes frequently after sleeping well for a few days or weeks.

For example, your baby sleeps 6 hours every night for 3 weeks; then, on week four, they wake up at 2am; and the next night, and the next night. That is a sleep regression. They’re frustrating, yes, but they’re also temporary and, surprisingly, are good news.

What’s Good About Sleep Regressions?

Sleep regressions often coincide with major developmental milestones, like your baby learning to roll over or pull themselves. These new skills or developments are exciting to your baby and can disrupt sleep. In this light, sleep regressions are also “sleep progressions” – positive signs your baby is developing well!

It’s truly incredible how much – and how fast – our little ones grow in such short periods.

How Long Is a Sleep Regression?

Sleep regressions are typically brief, and can be as short as 2 weeks, or slightly longer, up to 6 weeks. We understand this may sound like a lot – especially since there are multiple sleep regressions as your baby grows – but there are easy, effective ways to mitigate sleep regressions. 

What are the Signs of a Baby’s Sleep Regression?

While every baby is different, there are some common indications your baby is experiencing a sleep regression. Here are the things to look for if you think your baby is going through a sleep regression:

  • They suddenly and frequently wake up at night
  • They struggle to fall asleep at night
  • They resist daytime naps
  • They’re more fussy than usual.

You Are Not Alone

Another thing to keep in mind – you are not alone in this. Every single parent and baby experiences sleep regressions. They are normal growth experiences. If you’re feeling isolated or frustrated or simply overwhelmed, reach out to friends, family, and other parents for advice. Honestly, sometimes just saying, “I am frustrated” can itself relieve frustration.

We’re Here to Help:

Morning, noon, or night, the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ is there to support you through this, and future, sleep regressions to help you quickly and easily get your baby’s sleep back on track.

One last note: You’re a loving caretaker and you’re doing great. Just by being here, reading about how to best care for your little one – that is love. Just keep on caring for your baby – and yourself – and you’ll be amazed at how much you both grow, physically and emotionally, too!

FAQs

How do you survive sleep regression?

  • Remain consistent in your routines and how you approach bedtime and nightwakings
  • Use an app like the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ to guide you step by step
  • Make sure their room is pitch dark (use black out curtains)
  • Use a white noise machine
  • Remember this is temporary, sleep will return to normal soon

What should you not do during sleep regression?

  • Don’t adjust your bedtime routine
  • Don’t create new sleep crutches, such as letting them sleep in your bed or rocking them back to sleep
  • Don’t punish them
  • Don’t panic – this is a temporary set-back and things will return to normal soon

How long to most sleep regressions last?

On average 2-6 weeks

Do things go back to normal after sleep regression?

Absolutely! Stay consistent with your baby’s bedtime routine and avoid creating new bad habits (rocking / nursing / feeding to sleep or letting them sleep in your bed) if you remain consistent it should pass within a couple of weeks.

How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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