How to Survive Sleep Regression During Your Baby’s First Year
During your child's first year of life, there will be many periods of sleep regression. When I was a new mom, the anxiety of not knowing if my child would sleep through the night caused me more stress. I would lie awake in bed and wonder how many times my baby would wake up that night. Sleep when your child is sleeping is a lot harder than most would think.
Sleep regression is a period of time (usually 1 to 4 weeks) when your child starts waking up during the night or skipping naps for no apparent reason. Every baby is different, so sleep regressions may happen at different times. During your baby's first year of life, sleep regression can often occur around 4 months, between 8 and 10 months, and around 11 to 12 months.
As normal as sleep regression is, it does not make it any easier on you as a parent. Here are how some moms coped with the sleepless days and nights.
“Bedsharing (or chair sharing sometimes) is what helped us to survive sleep regressions. Also, letting him sleep where he fell asleep instead of moving him to the perfect place (like his bed) helped us a lot.” — Sarah Case, Tiny Sparrow Photography
“My husband and I started bed sharing because our daughter was up so often. She was a great sleeper till 4 months, then boom! — she was up every hour and half. I never planned on bed sharing, but I love sleep.” — Mandy Agarwal
“I do think bed sharing helped me feel more rested and get more sleep. Whit naturally developed into a great sleeper, and it was nice to have him start sleeping through the night with very little encouragement from us. If only I could sleep as well as Baby and Hubby! — Christina Marie Fowlkes
” Neither of my kids are particularly awesome sleepers. With my first, I was constantly watching the clock and counting the minutes. I was so stressed and frustrated all of the time.
“With my second, I decided to not do that and just accept that waking (and sleep deprivation on my part) were part of the package. It hasn't made me any less of a zombie. I do occasionally reach my breaking point where I just need a nap, but I have spent less time being stressed about it. Accepting that it will eventually end is easier because I've been through it once and survived!” — Alison Graichen
“How we thrived: we didn't view normal sleep development as regressions! I know it sounds cheesy, but having a positive view on night waking made us feel really good about sleep. We took clocks out of our room, and we didn't count night wakings.
“Night waking often increases as Baby's neurological function increases (yay!), and light sleep and frequent arousals protect baby from apnea and SIDS. Night nursing kept my milk supply robust and helped us meet our breastfeeding goals (and still going!). Plus, I often found those quiet snuggles in the night to be so peaceful and sacred. Honestly, I miss them.” — Christina Marie Fowlkes
“We wore her so she could sleep, as well as used the swing and coslept to attempt sleep!!! I am sure I have a million photos of her sleeping at home. I distinctly remember photographing her sleep so I had reminders that it did happen.” — Mary DeMarco-Logue
Fill Their Belly
“Often growth sleep regression and growth spurts go hand and hand, so feel free to offer an extra night time feeding (or five!) to help soothe your baby back to sleep. My son really seemed to need those extra feedings during sleep regression moments.” — Emily Brown
Lean on Others
Sleep regression will wear you down from sheer exhaustion. Unfortunately, it can last up to six weeks. Instead of trying to do it all by yourself, ask for help from your partner with the wake-ups and recruit friends and family to help you with your other children and/or household management. An exhausted and worn-down mom is not good for anyone in the family!
How did you survive sleep regression during your baby's first year of life?