What is Sleep Regression
Most easily explained…sleep regression is the time when your baby or child’s sleep pattern shifts. They may take longer to get to sleep, wake up more frequently throughout the night and struggle getting back to sleep. Doesn’t sound like much fun does it? Just when you think you’ve made it and your little one turns 4 and is sleeping through the night with no issues, don’t be fooled sleep regressions aren’t just for babies.
Sleep Regression Ages
Most commonly talked about sleep regression ages are 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, 18 months and 2 years. However, sleep regression can actually occur at any age or stage in a child’s early years. Although it is less common in over 3 year old children, it can and does happen. So if you’re currently struggling with a 4 or 5 year old who has suddenly become a bad sleeper, this could be you. Don’t panic, the end is in site and things will work themselves out.
How Long Do Sleep Regressions Last?
The good news is that they don’t last forever. Although at the time it can be a real struggle and test of patience, you’ll get there, you can do this; power through it. Sleep regressions can last anywhere between 2 – 6 weeks. It can feel almost like you’re creating a whole new bed time routine along with a new sleeping pattern. If there’s certain things you wanted to implement in your baby or child’s bedtime routine, now would be a good time to do so.
I’ve dealt with sleep regression ages from 2 months, 6 months, 14 months and so on! I’m currently dealing with a 23 month old who still doesn’t sleep through the whole night, at the moment she wakes in the early ours of the morning, comes walking into my room so quietly that the camera doesn’t wake me up. Sometimes I don’t even know how long shes’ been standing there just staring at me before I startle awake and cuddle her in bed and we both fall back to sleep within minutes.
As well as a 4 year old who was sleeping literally like an angel but now dislikes bedtime, doesn’t like the dark, has a fear of Mr Todd (from Peter Rabbit) and just doesn’t like the idea of going to sleep. Sometimes I tell myself she’s having a sleep regression just as a coping mechanism for myself. I started a whole new bed time routine for her to really help settle and know it’s calming down time now for bed. Slowly, we’re getting there but she still has her bad nights where she wants me to lay on the floor in her bedroom until she falls asleep!
How To Survive Sleep Regression
Know that it won’t last forever, it is just a phase although a terribly difficult, tiring and a true testing of patience phase.
When evening and planned bed times are fast approaching, try to mentally prepare yourself for the possible challenge to come. Try to be flexible and let the little ones lead, no forcing them to do it your way or what you think would be best.
If it’s a difficult 2 or 3 year old you’re dealing with (or older for that matter) and they keep trying to talk to get you to stay in the room or make you feel like you can’t leave. Rather than losing your cool almost immediately because you’re thinking ‘here we go again,’ try listening. If you listen and respond for 5 minutes, your child feels heard and better for it. Then simply edge towards the door and say ‘no more talking now we all need to get some rest, close your eyes and think about nice things,’ or something similar. This worked really well with my 4 year old and she had a little smile on her face because she felt heard, which is so important.
If sleep is becoming really hard to come by because you’re up throughout the night several times, revert back to the early newborn stages…I mean when your child sleeps…sleep! Take a nap at the same time, go to bed a little earlier. Don’t feel guilty for it because remember this sleep regression is just one of possibly many, once it’s sorted itself out you can catch up on other things like cleaning and the pile of washing!
If you decide to use this sleep regression stage to implement a new routine…be sure to stick to it! Don’t try it for a couple of nights, then give up because you haven’t yet had the desired results; it can take up to three weeks to set a new habit and have it become routine.
STAY STRONG and keep perspective – things won’t be like this forever.
Any excuse for a gallery of an adorable sleeping baby, they’re just so innocent looking…almost angelic – don’t be fooled!