5 Month Sleep Regression
A sleep regression is a common occurrence for infants. Your newborn had certain sleep patterns that more or less caused chaos in your own sleep schedule. They couldn’t get to sleep, or stay asleep, on their own. Over the first few months of life, this generally irons itself out and parents happily return to sleeping a full night through. And then… something terrible happens. Your 5 month old suddenly hits a 5 month sleep regression stage that results in them reverting to this newborn sleep cycle. You understandably panic.
Symptoms of a sleep regression will usually be big, bright, and early on in the cycle. It’s not something you can miss! Your 5 month old will suddenly:
- Have a change in eating habits
- Begin frequently waking during the night again
- Be unable to get back to sleep by themselves
- They nap for shorter periods of time
If your 5 month old who suddenly had a perfect sleep schedule begins exhibiting these symptoms, you’re probably one of those unfortunate parents who will have to live through the 5 month sleep regression stage. You’re likely distraught and wondering what you did to deserve this, so let’s be clear that there was nothing you could do to avoid this awful occurrence. It’s just something that happens at some stages in a baby’s life, and parents can’t do anything to prevent it. What you can do is come up with a 5-point strategy to deal with it. Here are the 5 ways to tackle the 5 month sleep regression head-on.
1. Longer Feeding Times
Frequently waking at night is perhaps the most frustrating part of the 5 month sleep regression. In order to combat this, you’re going to want to make sure that you have a well-fed baby. Many parents will go into the baby’s room, feed them for a couple of minutes, and then put them back down, only to discover that they wake up in just a little while for another short feeding. If your baby is waking frequently at night because of greater hunger, do your best to get them to eat as much as possible during that first waking cycle. The less hungry they are when you put them back down, the less likely they’re going to wake up again later.
2. Increase Quietness and Darkness
Sometimes babies wake up due to external factors, just like you or a loved one wakes up sometimes at loud noises or too much light in a room. If this is what is causing some of the restlessness, you can decrease the impact of the 5 month sleep regression by buying room darkening blinds or using a soothing white noise machine for your baby. If there are many other members in the house, they may be making noise at night that’s causing baby to stir. Cut this out immediately with some way to make sure that things in the house stay quiet while baby is sleeping at night and during naps. A steady sleeping environment will help as well. Babies love routine.
3. Keep a Sleep Schedule
No matter how desperate you get, don’t juggle sleep schedules right now. If your baby is in a 5 month sleep regression, the last thing they need right now is for you to juggle their sleep schedules. Keep with those schedules even when they don’t. It’s also recommended for you to continue getting your baby to sleep in any way you possibly can, whether it’s swaddling them with supervision or holding your baby to sleep. When a 5 month sleep regression is going on, it’s your job to help your baby get to sleep in any way that you can.
4. Try a Pacifier
Some babies that didn’t previously respond to pacifiers might begin getting great comfort out of them at this age. It’s a way for them to calm themselves to sleep without you having to be in the room with them. As your baby finds more comfort in the pacifier, it might become a go-to during a 5 month sleep regression. Pacifiers won’t work for all babies, but it’s worth a shot. Some other things you might want to try include:
- Holding your baby to sleep
- A nighttime “dream feed” as insurance for a later feeding
- A strict routine
5. Ask for Help
Of all the things on this list, asking friends or family for help during a 5 month sleep regression is among the most important. Why? Well, the truth is that a 5 month sleep regression is something you simply can’t truly prepare for or completely combat with a few simple tips. Chances are your 5 month old sleep regression will end when it ends, and there will be times when the tips just don’t work. You need to prepare for this scenario and be ready to have all the help you need during those frustrating, sleepless nights. No amount of rocking back and forth, feeding, or any other tip will always take care of a sleep regression. There will be long nights. Get ready for them by letting people who love you know what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to ask your pediatrician for tips as well.
6. Realize It’s Unpreventable
When you had a baby, you knew that these days were ahead, and you were well aware that all of it would be well worth it as you watch your child grow and develop and love you right back. For now, you’re in the midst of a very common sleep regression, and it’s up to you to make sure that you and your little one make it through this time just fine. Many parents wonder if there’s a way to prevent sleep regressions. Regretfully, no, you cannot prevent this from happening. While your aging infant is definitely at some points going into deeper sleep than ever before, and often just fine at night, there are other times when they’ll hit a sleep regression.
7. Avoid Common Mistakes
Your 5 month old sleep regression may be only the first of many sleep regressions to come. The great news is that if this is your baby’s first sleep regression, you’re going to learn a lot of things that work for them this time that you can use for the next unfortunate sleep regression. Long story short, take notes during the 5 month sleep regression so that you can learn things that help you during the next one. As you learn what works and what doesn’t, you’ll avoid those mistakes the next time around.
8. Seek Pediatric Advice
Your pediatrician is a big friend during any type of sleep regression. They’ve seen many parents go through this unfortunate scenario, and they may have additional tips that will help you during this phase. Don’t be afraid to have a long discussion with your baby’s doctor about the things that might help your baby get to sleep for longer and more easily during their 5 month sleep regression. The things you learn this time around will inevitably help you the next time a sleep regression hits.
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For now, deal with this one sleep regression on your own time. It’s okay to be frustrated. Most parents experiencing a sleep regression are very frustrated, even angry at times to themselves. Your calmness, though, will encourage your baby to remain calmer. They are looking to you for answers during this difficult time for them. Your patience and strength will enable you to weather the storm of the sleep regression and bring them to a more peaceful month’s sleep next month (or whenever this regression ends).