Last month he was sleeping through the night and now he is awake every two hours! What is going on? Is he teething? Does he have a bellyache?
Sleep regression is a common thing for most babies at different points throughout the first two years! He has so much to see and explore during his awake hours and he is learning so many new awesome tricks it is hard to shut off his mind and rest. He wants to play!
He may be also fighting naps, making him extra tired and difficult to settle at bedtime.
The first sleep regression typically occurs around four months when she is no longer a newborn and simply does not require as much sleep as a newborn. Newborns fall immediately into a deep sleep state. Four-month-olds are starting to sleep more like adults, but her sleep cycles are only 45-50 minutes long, compared to adult’s 90 minute sleep cycles. At this point, her sleep habits are simply maturing and she is adopting a new schedule.
Around eight to ten months babies sometimes experience another sleep regression. There is a lot of brain development taking place during this period and it is harder for him to settle down, especially when there is still so much of his little world to explore.
Sleep regressions typically last three to six weeks, so if you are patient, she will eventually get back on track.
Some ideas to help:
- A calming bedtime routine helps prime him for bed and the consistency is reassuring to him.
- A warm bath before bed will help to relax him.
- Cuddle together and read him a book before bed as part of your routine. This will keep him calm and still before you tuck him in.
- Sing him a song before you lie him down. Lullabies are soothing and help him to relax.
- Make sure the lights are dim and it is quiet in his bedroom for at least 30 minutes before bed.
- Continue to encourage two naps during the day. Being overtired can also cause him to wake up during the night. Babies don’t really need to give up that second nap until 15 months.
- Rule out teething pain and bellyaches.
- Make sure he is getting enough to eat before bedtime. Maybe give him a little snack of formula or breast milk before bed.
- Baby massage is a great way to calm him and help him regroup before bedtime.
- Don’t over-react when he wakes up in the night. Try to let him fall asleep on his own, then just pat his back, then as a last resort, rock him back to sleep. Try not to turn on lights or take him far away from his crib so he understands it is not playtime.
Karp, H. (2015). Happiest Baby on the Block. Bantam.
Parmelee, A. H. (1961), Sleep Patterns in Infancy A Study of One Idant from Birth to Eight Months of Age. Acta Pædiatrica, 50: 160–170. doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.1961.tb08035.x
Stern, E., Parmelee, A., Akiyama, Y., Schultz, M., & Wenner, W. (1969). Sleep cycle characteristics in infants. Pediatrics, 43(1), 65-70.