You’ve done it! After lots of frustrating, nearly sleepless nights, lots of tears from the entire household, and the brief possibility of just becoming a nocturnal family, you’ve gotten your baby on a solid sleep schedule that works for everyone.
Congratulations! Life becomes much better for everyone. And then, you hit a bump. Sleep regression.
The good news is that your baby is absolutely normal for going through this. Not every single baby does, but most do. It’s totally normal and expected, even though it can also be totally awful.
The good news is that because it’s so common, there are tons of baby sleep regression tips out there to help you get baby and yourself back onto a sleep schedule that helps you all feel human again.
You may already be doing some of these things, and some of them may not work for your own child even if they work for other children. Don’t give up!
Try new baby sleep regression tips until you find out what works best for you, your baby, and your family.
Why is this regression happening?
Before diving into the rest of the baby sleep regression tips, you should think about what sparked the regression in the first place.
Figuring out why it has happened can help you avoid outside factors in the future so that you don’t have to go through this whole process again.
Changes in the baby’s environment often cause sleep regression. Did a caregiver go back to work? Sleep might be off. Has the baby started trying new types of food? Sleep might be off. Going to visit grandma and sleeping in a new crib with new sounds?
Sleep will very likely be off. Sometimes, just the bodily chances of reaching a certain age or physical milestone or learning a new skill can throw off your baby’s sleep. Little ones often but don’t always to go through sleep regressions at these ages:
- 4 months
- 9 months
- 12 months
- 18 months
Can you control these factors? Not always, but knowing about them and their effects on your baby can help you be prepared for future regressions. Implementing some of the following tips ahead of time can help to minimize the effects of the regression.
Little Life Changes
Smaller things can affect your baby’s sleep patterns as well, and some of these are more obscure. Little changes to the environment can make a big difference to a baby.
New detergent makes the sheets smell different, and they might even feel different. Even if it’s the same consistency of previous food, trying new food can feel different from the baby’s tummy.
Little differences can be a big deal to little ones, so while it’s vital to introduce new things into their lives, be aware of the unintended side effects that may come with these new experiences.
Work on your bedtime routine
Re-establish if you’ve slipped
Some parts of a bedtime routine can be hard to stick to at times. Or maybe you’re just not someone who enjoys doing the same thing night after night.
Whatever the reason, if you’ve strayed from a bedtime routine, now is the time to set one that works and stick to it.
Taking simple, regular steps helps to signal to your baby’s body that these are the things that happen before sleep happens. Do these things every time, and you can help your little one work past the sleep regression.
Change it up if you need to
It’s also possible that you are sticking to your routine very well, but as your baby grows, there may be parts of that routine that just aren’t working for them anymore.
In fact, it might be working against good sleep. Don’t be afraid to try out a new routine for a few nights to see if that is helpful. If not, simply go back to your previous routine. Sometimes a little break is all you need to reset things.
Use swaddling or a weighted sleep sack
Some babies love the extra comfort that comes from being swaddled. Others are calmed by the slight weight of a weighted sleep sack on them.
Both types of sleepers provide extra cozy security for baby at night and can help them sleep when sleep just seems to have become impossible.
Practice new skills during the day
If your baby has just learned a new skill and is having a sleep regression at the same time, it’s possible that they’re spending time doing their new skill at night when they should be sleeping.
Give them lots of time during the day to practice. Have a brand new roller on your hands? Plenty of floor play during the day and lots of time to roll about will let them practice during the day and help to tire them out to sleep better.
Offer extra feedings
Sleep regressions often happen when the baby is going through a growth spurt, and that’s no coincidence.
During growth spurts, your baby can go through food quickly, and an empty tummy can be a recipe for poor, restless, or no sleep.
Adding an extra feeding, especially near bedtime, can help get to sleep and stay asleep, especially during growth spurts.
Help, but don’t help too much
When your baby is unhappy, of course, you want to scoop them up and soothe them. It’s your parenting instinct! Sometimes being too quick to swoop in can hinder sleep, though.
Try just replacing the pacifier or patting them on the back, leg, or bottom while they lay in the crib. Learning to self soothe will help everyone sleep better.
Darken the room
Older kids have had time to develop a fear of the dark, but babies tend to like things as dark as possible, especially early on. It reminds them of being inside the womb.
Make sure that baby’s room is plenty dark. If you live in a well-lit area, you might benefit from a set of blackout curtains. You also don’t have to rush out to buy that night light just yet!
Try an earlier bedtime
During a sleep regression, your baby is missing out on sleep time. Less sleep can lead to being overtired, which can lead to even less sleep and an ongoing, vicious cycle.
Try putting baby to bed a bit earlier to make up for missed sleep and avoid adding to an already frustrating situation.
Take control of the noise factor
Sounds can be very distracting to a baby who is trying to sleep, especially as they grow and become more and more curious.
Even a little sound can keep a nosy little one awake, especially if another factor already has them up.
Using a sound machine to provide constant white noise while blocking out other distracting noises can help babies get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Lean on others
You don’t and shouldn’t have to go through this alone! Sleep regressions can last a while and be really exhausting. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or just for a little break.
Lean on your support system during these times. It’s okay to need help as a parent. It does not mean you’re not a good parent. It means you are making sure you provide well for your child.