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Common Sleep Regressions



Sleep regressions are very common with babies, especially the first two years of their lives. Primarily, your child was sleeping well for a while, and then all of a sudden their sleep starts falling apart. Most often, sleep regressions are caused by teething, travel, or when they get sick. Developmental milestones and leaps that your child will reach at certain ages will also cause them. They can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, which makes it even harder for those tired parents that were once sleeping well.

Below is a list of common sleep regressions by age:

3,6,9 weeks: Growth spurts During this time your newborn will be going through growth spurts, which lead to increase in hunger and fussiness, and in turn more wake ups at night. Their body is rapidly changing and adjusting those first few months, so the constant small feeds are sometimes necessary.

3 -4 months: “The 4-month regression” This regression is a big one for these little guys as they are going through a lot at this time. At about 3 months they go through another growth spurt, which can lead to more wake ups in hunger. They are starting to become more awake and alert at this time, which causes them to be more distractible. During this time they begin to reach their first milestone, which is rolling over. Some will do it sooner rather than later, and just practicing and trying to roll over can disrupt sleep. They will begin to roll one way and then get stuck and not be able to roll the other way. It’s suggested to do a lot of tummy time at this age to get them stronger and able to learn how to roll over both ways. Also, many parents at this age start seeing it harder and harder to get their child down to sleep. What used to work, no longer works. Some babies start breaking free from their swaddles, or the holding/rocking to sleep no longer soothes your baby. And finally, as they get closer to 4-5 months your baby will begin to secrete melatonin, which physiologically can cause some changes in their body as well.

6 months: At this age, there are quite a few reasons why your baby is going through a regression. First and foremost, they are going through another growth spurt. I know, many these first few months! Secondly, they are going through another developmental milestone that at this point is allowing them to begin to be more mobile. They have mastered the rolling over part, and now working on sitting up on their own, and perhaps beginning signs of crawling. When they go through a developmental milestone it can cause more wake ups as they are actually doing more light sleep (NON-REM) at night, rather than deep sleep (REM).  For example, many parents will find their baby sitting up in the crib at 3:00 a.m. crying because they want to go back to sleep, but just don’t know how to lie back down. When they are trying to master the crawling, they will get on all fours and rock back and forth, which can a disruption in their sleep. And finally, they will go through their first separation anxiety peak. With more mobility and awareness, your child is trying to understand the world around her and how you still exist even though she doesn’t see you (object permanence). Where she used to go down easily at bedtime, now will cry for a few minutes as you leave the room because she is going through a separation anxiety peak.

8-10 months: “The 9-month regression” Just like in the previous regression, your little one is going through her (last) growth spurt at 9 months. She is also going through another developmental leap of learning how to pull herself up, so now when you go to get her out of her crib, she may be already standing waiting for you. Pulling up and learning how to go from standing to sitting, and then laying down is a developmental leap that will definitely affect sleep. You want to practice a lot during the day. Have your little one hold onto the sofa or coffee table and play a game to teach her how to sit back down and stand back up. Make sure not to get into the habit of helping her too much in the middle of the night.

12 months: With yet another milestone comes another separation anxiety peak. Around the age of 12 months, your little one will begin walking, which causes the most disruption in sleep. A lot of parents will see sleep begin to fall apart even before they are actually walking. Like any other milestone, make sure you practice a lot during the day and leave her be in the middle of the night. She may want to start practicing at night and do it on her own.

18 months: Around this age your child’s vocabulary will start increasing. Their receptive language (what she understands) is likely to be more advanced than her expressive language (what she can articulate), so make sure to constantly talk to her and explain to her what’s going on. She is entering toddlerhood, which can bring a need for boundaries and rules as she goes about learning how things evolve around her. Your toddler thrives on predictability (in everything) so make sure to stay consistent in your bedtime and middle of the night responses.

2 years old: As your toddler becomes more verbal and more aware of her surroundings she will go through a regression often linked to this as well as a separation anxiety peak. Often at this age, toddlers will also be potty-trained, which can through a loop for the night sleep. Just remember that potty training is only for the day, and not for night sleep. This will happen on their own, so don’t try to enforce night training.

So by now you may be asking yourself, how do I handle so many sleep regressions those first two years? Not to worry, not all kids experience a full regression at each of these stages, and some won’t even last that long. When you do realize your child is going through a sleep regression, fear not, it will subside. The most important part is to keep calm and respond consistently without creating new sleep crutches. You can always go in and check on your little one, but once you have determined that your child is OK and there’s not much you can do, it’s sometime best to leave them be. More practice during the day with those developmental milestones so that it is easier for them at night. Good luck and hang in there!

What you need to know about Sleep Training

This is the most common question you will get as the parent of a newborn baby: Does your child sleep through the night? It's not about her favorite toy or whether she likes to take a bath. The first thing on people's minds is whether she sleeps.

We all know that sleep is important for our health. But it’s also important for our being. We can’t be our best selves when we lack sleep. Our relationships with our spouses, with friends, and even with our own kids are compromised when we don’t sleep enough.

The problem is that our babies aren’t born sleeping through the night for 12 hours straight. As newborns, they just can’t sleep for long stretches. And that means our sleep will be broken up too.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to last very long. Once your baby is of “sleep training age” you can work on getting her sleeping better. But how? What does that mean? When? With all these questions we turn to books, internet (be careful with what you read!), friends, pediatricians and then before we know it our heads are spinning because we’ve had so many different opinions thrown at us.  

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Your child might not be ready.  Every child is different, and we can’t expect them all to develop exactly the same way; so too with sleep. Still, there are some guidelines for when you can expect to start sleep training. Anything younger than 4 months is a definite no, and anything after 6 months is a go! Between 4 and 6 months, some parents will find positive results in sleep training their child, but not all. 

2. You don’t have to stop breastfeeding to do sleep training. Many nursing moms feel that they will have to give up nursing in order to get their child sleeping longer and better. This is not true. Speaking as a mom of 3 who nursed all while still doing sleep training, it is possible! You can definitely nurse as long as you want, while doing sleep training. What we work on is removing the nursing to sleep association.

3. Is my only option to do the “Cry It Out” method? No. You do not have to do this method. What you do need to know is that your child will cry for at least part of the learning process. But you do not need to leave her crying by herself the whole night with no response from you. Instead, you can be in the room to comfort your child, while removing all sleep crutches and helping her learn how to put herself to sleep. 

4. So, what does sleep training involve?  When you sleep train your child, you are having her learn how to put herself to sleep at the onset of sleep, so she can do it again--by herself--in the middle of the night. The key is putting her down awake in her crib, and responding consistently throughout the process. If she’s already asleep when she is put down in her crib, she will not have the opportunity to learn how to put herself to sleep. And if you start responding inconsistently (leaving her to cry one time, then later picking her up, and then feeding her, etc.) this will only confuse her more and will result in inconsistent sleep behavior on her part as well.

5. What if my child still needs to feed at night?  You can still improve her sleep! It is commonly recommended to remove all night feeds starting at the age of 6 months; however, there are parents that aren’t ready to do that, and sometimes a pediatrician might recommend keeping them. That’s OK! You can still have your child sleep longer stretches, and feed when needed.

So what’s my next step?

  1. Rule out any medical concerns, and get your pediatrician’s approval.
  2. Make sure your child is over the age of 19 weeks (adjusted age).
  3. Contact me to set up your consultation and we can begin the process!

Here’s to more sleeping babies (and parents!)



How To Handle Sleep & Daylight Savings

It’s that time of year again. The day we all dread. Daylight Savings or “Fall Back.” One hour behind.  For the older kids it doesn’t really seem to affect much, but it can really throw the younger ones off. So while it’s still a few weeks away, you can start thinking and preparing so that the change isn’t so drastic on all of you.

You can take two different approaches:

1. Deal with it when it comes:

  • On Saturday night, put your child to bed at his regular bedtime.
  • On Sunday, when he wakes up with the new time you will need to immediately adjust his schedule according to the new time.
  • So while he did “wake up an hour early” stretching him to the new naptime might be a little hard. Try your best to distract him and get him to take his nap to as close to the new time as possible.
  • If you can’t adjust to the schedule on day one, try your best to slowly push it over in 15-minute increments, over the course of the next few days.

2. Prepare a few days before:

  • Slowly adjust your child’s bedtime and nap times an hour later by 15 minutes a day, the week before Daylight Savings. This way, your child will already be adjusted to the time change when it comes.
  • While you’re adjusting naps and bedtime, make sure that you also adjust mealtimes in 15-minute increments to help ease the transition.

However, once Daylight Savings hits:

  1.  Make sure to block sunlight & noise: If you don’t already have them in your child’s room, consider installing blackout curtains and using a white noise machine. Although the days are getting shorter, there may still be some sunlight coming in the morning, as well as some outside noise during bedtime.
  2. Dramatic Wake up and Toddler Clocks: Teaching your child about time might be a little hard when they are young. If you are constantly relying on the actual sun and moon to teach your child about sleep, it may get a little confusing with the time change. Dramatic wake up is a good method to help your child learn that the day has begun, even if they woke up early and didn’t go back to sleep. Behavioral Clocks are suggested for children over the age of 2 ½, as it helps them understand when its time to get up and start the day, and when it’s time for bed.
  3. Sunlight: Make sure that you expose your child to lots of natural light first thing in the morning to help rest his circadian rhythm to coincide with the new time. Try going for a morning walk, or even just opening the blinds. Make sure to keep the blinds open up to 45 minutes before nap and bedtime to help your child adjust to the new time.
  4. Stick to your schedule: Even though things may seem a little off whack, try your best to stick to your regular schedule according to the new time. The consistency of your daily routine is important for your child to adjust.

Keep in mind that it can take some children up to a week to adjust to this time change. Children who are very sensitive to change or have sensory issues may need a more gradual adjustment as well. Be patient but keep working on adjusting them to the new time. Good luck!

Sleep Tips For Your Summer Travel

It’s officially Summer and I’m sure you are planning your getaway. Although a vacation with kids is a whole other ball game, it is still manageable.  Your bags are now twice as heavy and your magazines are staying home, but spending some quality time with your family on the beach is unforgettable.

Many fear the travel, as it’s one of the main causes of sleep disturbances. But if your child was a great sleeper before, just like any regression, she will be a great sleeper after as well.

There are a few things you can do to try to avoid such a bad regression:  

1.     Keep to the schedule and routine as best as possible. We all know that staying inside the hotel room all day for your baby to nap her 3 naps isn’t going to happen. You want to explore and be outside of the room – well, isn’t that one of the main reasons why you’re on vacation? You still can! Just as you do the exploring keep in mind of your little one’s schedule. Perhaps stay indoors for her first long nap, and then go out onto the beach. If you are nearby your room, try to have her come back to her crib for the nap. And if you’re out and about be mindful of nap times and bring her lovey so she can at least take the nap on the go.

2.     Bring some familiar crib sheets and blankets. If you are going to a hotel or even a relative’s house, chances are they will have crib sheets and blankets. But sometimes bringing some of your own will help your child feel a little at home. The regular crib sheets will bring a little familiarity to her.

3.     Bring the essentials. Try to recreate her sleep space like she has at home, in the new setting. You can bring some plastic garbage bags to cover the windows to ensure that the room is dark enough. If your child normally sleeps with a white noise machine, you don’t have to bring the whole machine, you can download an app on your phone.  If your child has a favorite book, or a favorite pajama, bring those as well. And of course – don’t forget her loveys! Make sure to bring some extra in case you forget one on the plane or in the hotel room.

4.     Room & crib acclamations. If you arrive to your destination during the day, try to set up your child’s sleep space first and have her play in it for a while. Let her explore the room, the new crib, and play around so she becomes familiar with it.

As soon as you get back home, make sure to go back to the regular routine. You may need to do a mini-sleep train for a couple of days, but nothing like before. Your child should fall back into her regular sleep patterns relatively quickly.



Setting Up A Sleep Routine For Your Child

“In the great green room there was a telephone…” How many times have you read that line? I can recite that book with my eyes closed while standing upside down on one hand. I must have read that book a quadrillion times for my boys; over and over and over again…. Why does your little one want you to read the same book every night?  

Familiarity. Routine. Knowing what to expect. Children need routine--they need to know what to expect and when because it gives them a sense of security. Having their meals, play time, nap time, and bed time structured really helps the child understand time. This eases the transition from one activity to the next.

Same thing applies to their sleep. Your little one will need her day sleep (up until around the age of 4), and setting up her nap times according to her circadian rhythm will really help her understand what is coming. It will also help her body wind down and sleep better. While I do suggest a routine, make sure you allow some flexibility if needed. It’s the consistency that is reassuring for your child.   

When to begin?

I always suggest parents begin shaping these routines as early as day one. For newborns, make sure you are feeding your child on her regular hour schedule. If you need to wake your newborn during the day to feed, go ahead and do so. You don’t want her missing those nutritional feedings during the day, then looking for them at night instead. Also, newborns have a limited time that they can be awake, so make sure your baby sleeps every 1-1.5 hours, since her little body can’t be up longer than that.  

Once your baby is roughly 3-4 weeks old, start implementing a bedtime routine. While it is very unlikely that your little one will sleep through the night at this age, you still want to begin establishing a routine so she begins to understand those external sleep cues. She will begin familiarizing herself with this routine, which will be part of her bedtime process for the years to come.  

What to do?

I like the 4 B’s; Bath. Bottle/Breast. Book. Bed. Some like to add a massage after the bath; that’s OK. Use this as a guide and adjust it depending on age. For those newborn babies, by the time you’ve hit books your baby might already be sleeping. And for a 5 month old, she may just try to eat the book. But for an 8 month old, sitting and reading a short hard-covered book is fun! For your toddler who no longer drinks a bottle/breast, I would replace this with a Brushing of the teeth.   

Once you have set a routine that’s a good fit for you and your baby, begin the routine 30 minutes before bedtime, and 10 minutes before her naptime. Her naptime routine should be the same as her bedtime one, but a shorter version.