If you’re in the middle of a sleep regression, you’re probably dog-paddling trying to figure out how to stay on top of your baby’s sleep needs, but each day feels like it’s endless and maybe you’re having a hard time coping. In this piece I’ll share some tips about how to get through sleep regressions.
Importance of Coping Strategies
When your baby is going through a sleep regression, you may need some coping strategies to get through it. Self-care is hard to schedule in, but if you have a partner or helpful family members nearby, you must take breaks for your own sanity! I’ll share some coping strategies to maintain healthy sleep habits through a regression.
Establishing a Consistent Routine
You’ve probably heard that creating a consistent bedtime routine is helpful to get your baby to sleep peacefully, and I can’t stress that enough. Whether you’re going through a regression or not, establishing and maintaining a predictable bedtime routine (which you can repeat for naps) is vital for healthy sleep hygiene. A bedtime routine may include a bath, but in my opinion it’s not necessary to do every day. Your bedtime routine can begin after the bath, and should include dim lights, low stimulation and might might look like this: putting on a fresh diaper, baby massage, pajamas, feed, and then a book or two before putting your baby down. If your baby is used to being rocked or fed to sleep, now is the time to consider sleep training (properly sleep trained babies don’t have sleep regressions)!
Implementing Calming Bedtime Rituals
Having the lights dim in your nursery is the best way to start your bedtime routine. You might also want to draw the curtains before you start your bedtime rituals. Giving your baby a little massage in dim lights and singing calming songs can bring your baby’s energy level down and make their sleep environment more soothing. After you feed your baby and read a book or two, you might start a ritual of saying goodnight to the stuffed animals, and anything around the room. You can even say good night to the light as you switch it off! And then you can say good night I love you, before putting your baby down for the night. All of these things can be repeated for naps (except for feeds, which we normally recommend after naps so that your baby doesn’t get stuck in the feed to sleep habit).
Managing Daytime Naps
Stick to your calming routine for naps but make it a little bit shorter. Time naps around sleepy cues and wake windows. If you notice that your baby starts rubbing their eyes 1.5 or 2 hours after they woke up from their last sleep, then you can stick to that wake window until your baby is ready to drop a nap. If you’re suddenly seeing naps shorten to 30-45 minutes, that could be a sign of a sleep regression, or your baby’s way of telling you that it’s time to learn to self-soothe so they can fall asleep independently and put themselves back to sleep after one sleep cycle.
Using White Noise or Music
I’m not a big fan of music before bedtime because it can be a little too stimulating. White noise is a great tool that you can use to make sleep come easier, and also help you feel like you don’t have to tiptoe around your house every time your baby is sleeping! I like to turn on the white noise machine right after you turn out the lights and right before you put your baby down.
Practicing Relaxation Techniques
Your predictable bedtime routine should be relaxing. The dim lights, a baby massage, the bedtime story, all of these should feel as relaxing for you as for your baby. You don’t have to rush through the routine, and add extra books if your baby is a little bit older and likes to read. An extra snuggle from you is always relaxing for your baby!
Seeking Support from Partner or Family
If you’re going through a sleep regression, your baby who once slept for longer stretches may suddenly be waking multiple times a night and not going down for naps easily – or you might find yourself trapped in the nursery with contact naps because you can’t get your baby down. If you have a partner and/or helpful family members, ask for help. Split the nights with your partner or alternate nights so each of you can get some uninterrupted sleep. Take turns with naps so one caregiver isn’t stuck in the nursery all day.
Consulting with a Pediatrician or Sleep Specialist
If you’re going through a sleep regression, it’s probably because your baby hasn’t learned to self-soothe. Sleep training is the best cure for this so that your baby can not only learn how to put themselves to sleep in the beginning of the night but also put themselves back to sleep through the night, and for more than one sleep cycle for naps. If you’re unsure if your baby is ready for sleep training, you can read this piece to help you figure out when is the best timing for your family. You can also ask your pediatrician if they think your baby is ready for sleep training. When you talk to your pediatrician, ask based on their weight if your baby is ready for night weaning, or can reduce to one feed per night.
Sleep Training During a Sleep Regression
If your baby’s sleep regression is kicking your butt and you know you could use support, seek professional help with sleep training. If you want an expert to come to your home and guide you through it step by step, customized for your baby, we can help! Just reach out to us here and we’ll get your family sleeping faster than you can imagine.
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