To many parents, sleep regression for their young child comes as a surprise. In the first four months, our newborn son seemed to enjoy his peaceful sleep.
Typically, we would check on him only twice or thrice in a night. However, at about five months and several weeks, everything started going downhill, and his sleep patterns took a nosedive.
It took us a while to realize that we were actually dealing with sleep regression. In the following write up, we let you in on several tips we learned along the way and which proved helpful with our son’s 5-month-old sleep regression.
What is sleep regression?
Sleep regression is a state a child enters where their sleep patterns change for the worst. They start waking at night and try their best to fight off sleep as if they are afraid of it. These regressions seem to appear out of the blue and can last as long as possible if no action is taken.
Parents are often distraught by this change of events, and it often seems as if there is no reprieve for them. Just when you think you are out of the woods with baby sleeping troubles, you find yourself right back in.
The reasons behind these changes are developmental in nature. It is at this time that your child’s sleeping patterns are changing from sleeping like a toddler to more like an adult. This developmental change is what translates into shortened naps and frequent waking.
The changes start at four months and can go as long as possible leaving parents in great distress not knowing what to do.
The next sleep regression is between eight and ten months. This is the time your baby is making considerable strides regarding development. They can crawl, pull up and walk with the help of furniture among others.
At eight months, the child is also experiencing brain development. They are also trying to fumble some words and are using their teeth quite often – they want to bite everything they find. At this time, the baby is crankier, their naps are shorter, and they wake up frequently.
The eleven-month sleep regression doesn’t seem to affect as many children. Many parents treat it as a healthy developmental transition where their children reduce their naps. Where they used to take two, they now take one.
However, doctors advise that the children are not ready for the transition to single naps until they are 15 months. They should seek help if necessary.
The eighteen-month regression is all about your child’s newfound sense of independence. They can now express an opinion by saying no or yes at the top of their lungs to demonstrate that they mean it. It is also the time they exhibit separation anxiety when you leave them alone in their rooms.
The two-year regression is a little unlike the others and is not quite straightforward. There are various factors at play when it comes to this regression. As a matter of fact, their awake-time is growing longer, and that can have a negative impact on their sleep patterns.
It is also at two years that the child may start having real nightmares. They can also have night terrors that may be distressing to the parent. If anything, this regression may be the most exhausting for both the parents and the child.
Through my research and most importantly, my experience, I have come to learn that sleep regressions are manageable. You just need patience and understanding that your child is going through developmental changes for the better and it will all be good.
The following tips may prove helpful for you. Try them out, and they may work with your child.
How long does 5-month sleep regression last?
The five-month sleep regression can go as far as possible if there is no adequate intervention. However, as a parent, you will need to realize that this sleep regression indicates a permanent change. The sooner you accept this new state of events, the better.
You can then move on to helping the child sleep. However, you will need to be patient with them and help them relearn all over again the healthy sleep patterns.
10.5/11 month sleep regression got me like pic.twitter.com/vRuG79KDoa
— Megan Stewart (@itsmegansoitis) January 5, 2018
Having them in their own Room
This might obviously be one of the toughest things to do especially if you shared the same bed with the baby. Moving Kelvin to his own room filed us with anxiety. We took turns to go and check on him and make sure he is alright.
However, there is a good thing to all this. The child learns a bit of independence and that significantly helps with their sleep regression problem – they learn to sleep on their own.
Make sure the Room is Dark Enough
It is necessary to keep the room pitch dark to ensure the baby goes to sleep and stays so throughout the night. Blacking out the windows and blocking the spaces on the door and windows did the trick for us. Kelvin knew that it was time to sleep and did so, eventually.
The regression reduced with time and he started taking naps during the day and was on the path towards recovery. Just make sure that there is not any kind of light creeping in, and lights should be off unless it is changing or feeding time.
Make them as Comfortable as Possible when asleep
To ensure the child is relearning the basics of getting to sleep, you will need to make sure they are as comfortable as possible. There should never be anything affecting their rest in any way. Make sure the mattress has the right thickness and relatively hard surface to support their spine and neck.
Have a Sleep Routine
Routines are some sort of fun time for children. They seem to crave it, and it is a good idea to incorporate it into their sleep routine. Kelvin loves our sleep routine and always can’t wait to start it.
We start with brushing teeth and then move on to putting on the sleep pajamas. We then move on to reading a short bedtime story and head to the bathroom. When we finally move on to the bed, he is already looking forward to it.
The last is usually to turn the lights off even before he is completely asleep.
Take them to Bed Drowsy
Don’t wait until the child is utterly asleep on your lap to take them to bed. If you do this, the child may never learn, and you will be fighting a losing battle. Wait until they are drowsy before taking them to bed so that they can sleep on their own – how hard can it be moving on from here?
The child soon learns to go to sleep on their own without much fuss. This is especially helpful if they get up during the night – they can smoothly go back to sleep on their own.
Adjust Sleeping Time
If you couch your child to sleep more, their sleeping pattern will improve considerably, and they sleep for longer. For example, if the child was sleeping from 9 PM, changing it to 8 PM or even 7:30 PM will do a lot of good. Sleeping earlier has a way of attracting a healthier sleeping habit, and that was pretty apparent for us.
Get rid of Sleep Associations
There are good, and there are bad sleep associations. The good associations include the pitch dark room and the sleep noise machine. The inappropriate associations include rocking so that they can get back to sleep.
Simply, anything that disrupts the sleep of others is not appropriate, and you should gradually ease it out. Ideally, you should ensure that the baby needs very little assistance for them to go to sleep and the 5-month-old sleep regression will not affect them anymore – at least for a while.
Don’t be too Quick to Pick them
When you are too quick to answer your baby’s becks and calls, you create a new kind of association. They start crying now and then knowing that you will rush and nurse them to sleep. The best thing to do to break this cycle is to ignore all this fussing.
Eventually, they will learn that no amount of shouting will earn them some nursing so that they can go back to sleep. Kelvin loved rocking and always wanted it more than anything to sleep. We eventually eased this habit off and could finally go to sleep, on his own.
The key here was to let him cry a little bit until he keeps quiet without intervention from us.
When the 5 month sleep regression is killing you & you remember Yesterday You left red licorice in your bag pic.twitter.com/a45KdvWY2G
— Lorraine Insulán (@lorrainbow) July 13, 2017
The 5-month-old sleep regression can be quite distressing for parents especially when they have no idea of what is happening. Our son started at four months before we sought some professional help. The good news is that the changes are only developmental in nature and not worth worrying about too much.
It just means that your child is finally growing – how time flies. They are finally learning some independence. There are several tips you can employ to ensure your child relearns to go back to sleep, eventually and they include the above.