What is Sleep Regression?

New parents often eagerly await the time when their baby will start sleeping through the night. When it finally happens, you’re thrilled to be getting more rest. But suddenly, your baby starts to wake in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. So what’s going on? Blame it on sleep regression.

Sleep regression is a period of days or weeks when your baby, who used to sleep well, starts waking up again during the night or has trouble napping. Although sleep regression can occur at any time, it appears to be more common at certain ages including four, eight and 12 months.

Why Does Sleep Regression Occur?

In many cases, sleep regression tends to coincide with certain developmental milestones, which is why it occurs most commonly at the ages mentioned above. For example, some babies may have sleep disruptions at about four months when their sleep pattern starts to mature.

As your baby’s sleep patterns mature, she’ll often start waking up between sleep cycles. She is also starting to gain more awareness. When she wakes, she wonders where the heck you are and wants you to help her get back to sleep. Sleep regression may also develop as your baby hits milestones, such as eating solid foods or learning to crawl or walk.

While it may be frustrating when your baby starts waking at night, it’s important to try to remember it’s most likely only a temporary phase. Sleep regression typically lasts about a week or two. When you’re bleary-eyed and sleep deprived, a couple of weeks can seem like an eternity. But there are a few things you can do to survive a period of sleep regression

Getting Through Sleep Regression

First, rule out any health related issues. For example, your baby may start waking up at night when he is teething or if he has an earache. Next, it may be helpful to evaluate your baby’s bedtime routine. Depending on how old your baby is, you may need to make a few adjustments, such as pushing bedtime back or moving it forward a bit.

Keep in mind, if your baby has been falling asleep on his own, you don’t want to start rocking him back to sleep every time he wakes up. While it’s fine to soothe your baby, try to avoid developing bad habits that may cause long-term sleep problems for both you and your baby.

Although sleep regression can prevent everyone from getting a good night’s rest, it’s usually just a bump in the road. There may be some instances where nothing you do seems to help, and all you can do is hang in there. Fortunately, sleep regression won’t last forever.

Written by MaryAnn De Pietro

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.

5 Tips for Coping with Sleep Deprivation

There are no guarantees in motherhood. Well, aside from sleep deprivation, that much is absolutely 100% guaranteed. Sleep deprivation is real, almost too real, and there’s no escaping it. If there’s a new baby in your house, then you will definitely be experiencing some lack of sleep.

First of all, you were exhausted after giving birth and in need of some serious relaxation time. You didn’t get any, of course, you were far too busy staring lovingly at your new baby. The baby who, by the way, is nocturnal.  You probably spent the first few weeks of your baby’s life welcoming guests during the day and trying to stay awake at night. Thankfully, the nocturnal stage didn’t last long and within a couple of weeks your baby knew the difference between night and day. Not that it made much difference since your baby still didn’t seem to fancy sleeping at night all that much.

So here you are, 10 weeks later, tripping over your eye bags and sobbing into your cold cup of coffee. Don’t worry, your child will sleep one day. No guesses on when that will be, but fear not, it will be. In the meantime, try the following tips to survive sleep deprivation:

  1. Be kind to yourself

You’re tired and have been for a long time now, don’t judge yourself too harshly. You’re going to forget diapers, answer the door without a top on and get your days mixed up sometimes. That’s just what happens when you’re tired. Lower your expectations. You don’t need to have a showhome tidy house, a red carpet ready outfit and a completed to-do list. These days, you don’t even need matching socks. Take it easy, prioritize things that need to be done, and other than that simply focus on getting some rest.

  1. Remember you’re both tired

Try not to fall into the I’m-more-tired-than-you trap. It’s not a good place to end up. Once there, it’s easy to get stuck and, most importantly, there are no winners. You are both tired, being a new parent is tough and it doesn’t really matter who got the least sleep last night. What matters is that you both feel supported, loved and appreciated during this time. Try to keep your irritability in check and be aware that emotions can run high when you’re low on sleep.

  1. Ask for help

You don’t have to do this alone. Looking after a baby isn’t easy and, as they say, it takes a village to raise a child. These days, we don’t live in tribes and not many villages collectively raise babies, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. If you’re tired, ask for help. Friends and family will be more than happy to help you out. People will happily fetch groceries, hoover the living room and entertain your older child for a few hours so you can catch up on sleep. All you have to do is ask.

  1. Take care of yourself

Sleep isn’t always possible, especially when you have a new baby in the house. Even when you can’t sleep, however, there are things you can do to lessen the blow of exhaustion. Make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables and greens. Make an effort to get some exercise each day, it doesn’t have to be anything too intense, a half hour walk with the pram is enough. Set some time aside to relax each day, even if all you manage is a short soak in the tub, it might be enough to reset your batteries.

  1. Sleep when the baby sleeps

It’s not always possible, in fact sometimes it might be impossible, but do try to catch up on sleep whenever you can. Ignore the mountains of laundry waiting to be done, and instead snuggle up in bed when your baby goes down for a nap. If you have another child demanding your attention, don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member to help out so you can nap when the baby sleeps.

Most importantly, remember this won’t last forever. You are exhausted now, but one day your child will sleep better and you will feel human again. Promise.

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.

Shouldn’t He Be Sleeping Through the Night?

Babies need lots of sleep – 12 to 20 hours each day. They sleep for a few hours at a time, then wake to eat and play, then sleep again. Including at night. For some reason, though, we equate long stretches of baby sleep with being an accomplished parent. How many times have you been asked, “Is he sleeping through the night yet?” Some parents feel if their baby isn’t sleeping through the night by X weeks, they’ve failed as a parent. But realistically, babies aren’t programmed that way.

At birth, babies don’t have a circadian rhythm – that internal clock that shapes our 24-hour day. Your baby just doesn’t know you expect to consolidate sleep into nighttime hours and waking into the daylight hours. It takes the first three to four months for this to start developing, and it doesn’t mature until six to 12 months. Once that happens babies sleep more predictably and for longer stretches at night.

Young babies – whether they are breastfed or bottle-fed – are going to wake at night to eat. For breastfed newborns, their sleep cycle neatly matches their digestion. Researchers have found that it takes a newborn about one hour to digest an average amount of breastmilk, and that is just the length of their sleep cycle.

Being honest with yourself … do you really sleep eight hours straight? Or do you wake occasionally yourself to adjust the covers, check the clock, get a drink or use the toilet? Baby does all of these things, too; but because of his immature nervous system, he needs your help to get back to sleep.

One of the most bothersome things about baby sleep is that it’s throwing your sleep patterns completely off. Sleep deprivation is something you read about before the birth of your baby but can’t completely understand until you’re living through it. And it’s not just that you’re not sleeping – it’s that the sleep you do get is fragmented. You’re often waking before you’ve had a chance to recharge. Tips for dealing with this interruption to your sleep include:

  • sleep when your baby sleeps
  • if you can’t sleep, at least rest
  • go to bed when baby does – even if it’s early evening
  • do less, relax more – let the housekeeping go, and rest instead
  • get help – whether it’s with the housekeeping or with baby care

So, when will your baby sleep through the night? It’s hard to say. Sleep is a developmental milestone that every child reaches on his own timeline. As your baby grows, he will start to sleep more, and that sleep will consolidate into night hours eventually. And before you know it, you’ll sleep 8 hours and not even remember what it was like to be awake all the time!

Written by Michelle, childbirth instructor, lactation consultant, and mother to 4 busy kids

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice.  All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.