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    Signs of Sleep Regression in Babies and What to Do About It

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    Your newborn is not so new anymore. While it may be difficult to let go of those sweet early stages, there's one key perk of your baby growing up - a full night's sleep. In fact, about 66% of 6-month-old babies are sleeping through the night on a regular basis. 

    Of course, those long stretches of sleep may not be as consistent as you like, especially as your baby reaches key stages in growth. 

    If your little one is suddenly waking up at all hours of the night, or struggling to get to sleep at bedtime, you may be dealing with sleep regression. 

    Lucky for you, you don't have to navigate these challenging times alone. Follow along to discover the signs of sleep regression in babies and what to do to make getting past these transitional phases easier for you and bubs. 

    What is Sleep Regression?

    First things first, let's get to the bottom of what a sleep regression actually is. 

    Sleep regression is the name given to sudden sleep disruptions and changes in nighttime sleeping patterns. These regressions can pop up seemingly out of nowhere and make getting a good night's rest feel nearly impossible. Fortunately, they don't usually last for long. 

    On average, sleep regression can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks and make you feel like you've reentered the newborn phase all over again. Your baby may be fighting sleep at bedtime or waking up more frequently during the night, however, it's likely due to outside factors. 

    Causes of Sleep Regression

    Although sleep regressions are somewhat inevitable, knowing what causes them can help you be prepared. Beyond this, seeing a sleep regression coming can make managing the symptoms feel more 'survivable'. 

    Growth Spurt

    The first and most common cause of sleep regression is a growth spurt

    You know those mornings when you swear your little one sprung up overnight? Well, that growth may not be as unrealistic as you think. 

    At certain stages, your baby will grow at a faster rate. This little growth spurt usually makes them extra-hungry. This means your growing bub may need a few more feeds to manage hunger through the night. Beyond an increased appetite, growing pains may make your little one feel restless and in need of some extra love and comfort. 

    Common times for sleep regression in babies

    Teething

    As those cruel little teeth start to break through the surface of your baby's gums, your little one may be in more discomfort than you anticipated. 

    If you're noticing rosy red cheeks and cranky behavior, your little one is likely to experience a sleep regression soon. Teething pain can vary from child to child, but most times the discomfort is enough to wake your child in the night or make it more difficult to fall asleep. 

    Developmental Milestones

    Whether your little genius has just learned to roll over, stand, or walk, you're not the only one who's over the moon about your baby's new accomplishment. 

    Your little one will be just as excited about their newfound ability to move around, so it's natural that these key developmental milestones cause a bit of disruption in their sleep behavior. After all, they've got a whole lot of moving and grooving to do - even at night. 

    Routine Disruptions

    As your baby grows, you've likely settled into a pretty consistent routine. Of course, life has a funny way of jumping in just when you think you've got it all under control. 

    If you've had a big change such as introducing daycare or going on a big trip, it's common for your baby to go through a sleep regression while they adjust. 

    If you're worried about little things like missing a nap due to a surprise visitor, fear not. Your baby is still very adaptable and getting to sleep an hour or two later than normal usually isn't enough to spur a full sleep regression. 

    Illness 

    The last common cause for sleep regression in babies is an illness. Whether it be a cold or an ear infection, being sick can make your little one a little more needy than normal. 

    Beyond needing some extra comfort, pain or trouble breathing may cause them to wake up startled and uncomfortable. 

    Expect changes in sleep when your child is down and out with illness and don't resist giving them that extra attention and comfort they are asking for. 

    Signs of Sleep Regression

    Now that we understand what causes sleep regression, we can keep our eyes peeled for the signs that sleep regression is, in fact, what you're dealing with. 

    Keep in mind, broken sleep for one night here and there is nothing to worry about. These signs of sleep regression will happen night after night in most circumstances. 

    To help determine if there's a pattern of sleep disturbances, it's helpful to keep a journal of your baby's sleep times.  With pixsee you can select automatic image and video capture once a cry is detected. This time-saving feature makes tracking baby's cries and wakings during the night stress-free.

    You'll also be able to attach notes and additional information such as room humidity and temperature to help determine what might be causing your baby to wake. 

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    More Frequent Waking

    Simple as that. If your little one is waking up more frequently through the night than normal, they may be smack dab in the middle of sleep regression. 

    This may include waking for a feed, waking up to cuddle, or simply waking without any real reason whatsoever. 

    Fortunately, the pixsee smart baby monitor allows you to keep an eye on these waking habits without busting in to come to the rescue. This gives your child a chance to self-soothe before you step in to fulfill their needs. 

    Trouble Falling Asleep

    Perhaps you had a solid nighttime routine before, or your little one would just fall asleep like magic. When these easy bedtimes disappear, you're entering sleep regression in full force. 

    Your child may resist going to sleep or simply struggle to settle into a comfortable position.

    More Cranky or Fussy Than Normal

    This sleep regression symptom can show up both at night and during the day. 

    If your little one is more fussy or cranky than normal, it's likely due to their lack of good-quality sleep. It may make them fussier when they wake or contribute to an irritable state all day long. 

    Resistance to Naps

    Finally, your over-tired bub may actually start resisting naps as well. 

    Sleep regression doesn't only happen at night. This sleeping disruption can strike at any time and often impacts your baby's naps just as much as their nighttime rest. 

    If your tired little one is refusing to settle for a nap, this could be a strong indicator of a sleep regression. 

    Common Baby Sleep Regression Times

    Unsurprisingly, sleep regression usually starts at similar times for each baby. These are closely related to those developmental milestones we mentioned earlier. 

    Here are the most common sleep regression stages you can watch for:

    Causes of Sleep Regression in Babies

    3-4 Months

    The 3-4 month sleep regression is usually the toughest for parents - especially novice ones

    This is because the entire experience will be brand new. 

    If you've finally mastered your nighttime routine, it can be incredibly discouraging to hit this dreaded first sleep regression. To manage this discouragement, watch for the key signs of sleep regression and be prepared for a bit of a change around the 3-4 month mark.

    This regression is likely caused by teething pain as those first little buds start to break through the gums. Your little one could also be going through a growth spurt that's making them hungrier than normal. 

    And of course, rolling front to back or back to front can be equally exciting for your lil one and make settling down more difficult than it used to be. 

    6 Months

    Just when you think you've got it all figured out, your little one goes through another growth spurt around the 6-month mark (give or take). 

    This sleep regression, however, may look a little different from the last. Instead of waking to feed, your little one is likely just looking for a bit of extra love and comfort in the night. This is because, by 6-months, your baby is well and truly used to going a longer span without a feed. 

    At this stage, it may be a good time to try out a sleep training method such as allowing your child to self-soothe while you keep a watchful eye through your pixsee smart baby monitor. You can even review the footage from your restless night in the morning to evaluate how your baby is managing and when it's time to step in. 

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    8-10 Months

    Next up, your baby starts to move and groove! Between 8-10 months, most babies will start crawling and eventually standing on their own. Just like rolling, this exciting accomplishment leaves no time for rest as your little one is simply itching to test out their new skills!

    In addition to this newfound freedom of movement, many babies begin to experience separation anxiety around the 10-month mark. Don't panic, your child will regain their nighttime independence soon, however, they may need a little more reassurance from mom as they navigate this changing time. 

    12 Months

    Around one year old, your little bundle of joy is going to start taking those first, highly-anticipated steps. Just like when they learned to crawl, this new development can set off the excitement and desire to run around and see the world. 

    While this may come earlier or later for your lil one, you can expect to see a change in sleeping patterns around the time of those highly independent movements. 

    18 and 24 Months

    Your baby is leaving the infant stage and entering toddlerhood. Of course, sleep regression doesn't discriminate and your toddler is likely to go through sleep regressions similar to those in their first year.

    Typically around the 18 and 24-month marks, your child may begin to experience disturbances like nightmares or night terrors. They also may develop a fear of the dark or even go through a whole new wave of separation anxiety. Just like their previous sleep regressions, this too shall pass. Stay strong momma!

    How to Manage Sleep Regression Symptoms

    Sleep Regression in Babies Advice

    Now that you know what sleep regression signs to watch for, it's time to tackle the management of difficult sleep regression symptoms. From keeping your baby content and comfortable to speeding up the time it takes to get back to normal, here are the tips you need to know.

    Offer Extra Feedings

    Many parents believe that if they offer extra feedings during the night, their little ones will never sleep through the night on their own again. 

    We understand that it took some serious time and energy to spread out feedings so you can get some rest, however, if your baby is asking for food, the best course of action is to give it to them. As we mentioned above, they may be going through a growth spurt that requires a little extra energy. 

    Up the nighttime feeds or even offer a little extra during the day to curb their hunger. Don't worry - it won't last forever. 

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    Comfort Without Bad Habits

    Giving your baby some extra love and kisses during the night won't damage their progress.

    However, it is important to avoid building bad habits or allowing the ones you've broken to return. 

    If you've ditched the pacifier once before, try to resist the temptation to bring it back. We also suggest steering away from rocking your baby to sleep as it may make it more difficult for them to self-soothe in the coming months. 

    Promote Self-Soothing

    Along with other sleep-training methods, allowing your baby to settle themselves for a few minutes before coming to the rescue can be a great way to encourage that independence and consistency they once mastered. 

    Learn Baby's Sleep Cues

    Believe it or not, an overtired baby is much more difficult to soothe. Rather than letting your baby hit this overtired stage, learn to watch for those sleepy signals and jump to your nighttime (or naptime) routine faster. 

    Some of these signals may include rubbing eyes, fussiness, or even looking away from you. As you learn your baby's unique cues, you can better respond to her needs. 

    Establish a Sleep Routine

    The more structured your nighttime routine is, the better chance you have of establishing consistent sleep habits

    Consider introducing soothing activities such as reading or bath time before bed and keeping it as consistent as possible to break through those difficult disruptions. 

    Ask for Help

    There's absolutely no shame in asking for help, especially when sleep regressions drag on for 4, 5 or even 6 weeks. 

    Chances are, after this long without consistent sleep, you'll begin to get pretty tired too. Rather than trying to manage it all yourself, lean on your partner, family, or friends for help to get through. 

    If your baby's regression seems to be going on forever, it may be a good idea to ask your pediatrician or other trusted healthcare professional for advice. 

    pixsee and Your Baby

    Now that you know what sleep regression is, when it may appear, and what symptoms to watch for, you too can master sleep regression management. No matter where you are in your sleep training journey, rest assured knowing that your child can and will sleep through the night - you've got this!

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    Need help identifying your baby’s sleep patterns? pixsee can help, click here to learn more.

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    publish:December 17, 2021, update:December 17, 2021

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