Starting a family is a great way to make a good night’s sleep a distant dream! Although expecting parents are fairly warned of their future sleepless nights, they are often blindsided by just how hard the night wake ups can be.
Babies lack the circadian rhythm that we operate on and because of this, it can take 8 to 12 weeks for a regular sleep routine to be established. Even then, their sleep schedule continues to regress and evolve until it finally aligns into a routine.
For struggling parents, there’s a popular belief that the ‘cry it out’ method is the fastest way to teach babies to sleep on a proper routine. However, I’m here to show you that there are simple and easy strategies that allow for a smoother transition for both parent and bub.
4 Month Sleep Regression Signs and Solutions
We’ve all heard about the 4-month regression and dread its arrival. Yet, it may be comforting to know that this is actually a progression, even though it feels like a regression.
At 4 months your little one is learning so much. And with all this learning they are wanting to have longer awake periods to expend their energy. The biggest change is that their circadian rhythm is becoming more synced and night sleeps are getting longer.
However, if baby is waking constantly and it has been more than 2-3 nights, these tips may help:
Tip 1: Are you rocking, feeding or patting Baby to sleep? If so, your baby will expect this to happen when they wake in the night. Instead of offering a feed right before bed, bump it up by 15 minutes before the bedtime routine starts. You can also start weaning your baby off of patting and rocking by slowing down the movements as the baby settles, then stopping. If Baby gets worked up again, start again, then slow down and stop.
Tip 2: At this age our babies are needing more play time, but not in their chair or bouncer; on the floor. Learning to roll and wiggling around can expend all that energy, so they can become tired enough to have a sleep.
Tip 3: Start a bedtime routine. You need to start implementing a sleep routine that you consistently do each time. For instance, the same small board book, a song, or good night phrase.
8 Month Sleep Regression Signs and Solutions
Just got out of the 4-month sleep regression? Well here we go again!
Clingy, fussy and immediately crying when you leave the room are all signs that your baby is going through the 8-month sleep regression. This can happen anywhere between 8-10 months and can happen for a few reasons:
- Your baby is learning to sit, crawl, and pull themselves up and much more, and unfortunately, they love to practice these new skills at sleep time.
- During this time, your baby can now understand object permanence and that when you leave you are gone.
During the day, try and practice those skills they are learning as much as possible. If they are getting stuck in a certain position, like standing up, show them how to get out of it. If your baby is sitting or standing up and not able to get back down, show them a few times how to lay down in their cot. This also shows them that this is what we do for sleep time.
With your baby now understanding you are gone, you are going to have to implement my ‘Parent Presence’ sleep method (see below!) where you slowly work yourself out of the room.
Something I recommend to parents if at any point their baby is not showing the proper signs of sleep progression, is to try using smart baby tech, particularly smart baby monitors, such as the Owlet Smart Sock. Parents can track how their baby’s sleep in real-time, along with heart rate and oxygen level, providing parents with the peace of mind knowing they are getting the most complete picture of their baby’s well-being. Parents can see and rely on past patterns of sleep to create the best routine for your child.
Parent Presence Sleep Method
This method can be done over days or over weeks, depending on where your baby is at and your parental intuition. This approach is not just for babies, but it is also great for toddlers who may be going through a regression!
Level 1: Pat your baby’s bottom or rub their stomach while they lay in bed saying your goodnight phrase. You may also give a soother/dummy to help settle too. Whatever you would normally do to settle them.
Level 2: Stand by the cot, but don’t stroke or pat your baby. Use verbal cues to let them know you are there, that you love them, and that it is sleep time.
Level 3: Stand further from the cot while you give your baby your chosen verbal cues.
Level 4: Stand by the door to give your baby your chosen verbal cues.
It is important to know that this is going to take time to implement this and that the first few nights will be the hardest.
If at any stage your little one is getting really worked up, pick them up and calm them down; then restart. A baby’s brain can only do one thing at a time, so they can only focus on being upset and not going to sleep!
For more expert advice on babies and sleeping, check out our Babies: Development section.