Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Today lets chat about sleep regression. I have clients come to me usually around 4 months and 9 months (give or take a few weeks either way) and say their baby’s sleep has regressed, as in they have gone backwards in sleep consolidation.
What particularly concerns me are parents who are led to believe that their baby, as young as 4 months, should be sleeping through the night. Babies ALWAYS need Reassurance, Comfort, Nutrition, and LOVE.And how those needs show up vary, BUT they aren't shut off just because the sun goes down. Therefore they often have phases of increased night wakings.
Babies increased wakefulness actually makes a lot of sense. At around 4 months (the first 'regression') they gain an increasing awareness of the world around them. Their developing brain begins to light up like city streetlamps turning on at dusk AND this is a good thing.
However, with more brain activity and increased awareness they become more distracted as they work about their day and might miss some daytime nursings or better yet start nursing and end it all too soon, ouch. Both scenarios leave you with rock hard boobs.
So it’s a double whammy
They are waking up more because they are doing their job and developing by processing all this new and rich information.
And due to their new intrigue in the world they may be missing day time feeds and need to make those up at night (often called reversed cycling).
Toss in the fact that they might be having some growing pains, like teething...
And it's a TRIPLE whammy
Contrary to what many people think our brain doesn’t turn off at night. Your head chatter does, but not your brain. Sleep is when we, humans, consolidate all of our learning and our new littles have so much learning going on.
Their brain doesn't just shut down at night, it develops and grows.
The 9-month mark is also a prime time moms reach out because their baby has ‘regressed’. Nine months is such a milestone time for babies. It's about this time they learn to pull themselves to standing, some are even cruising at this point. That is big work in their world. Also this is when they start formulating vocabulary with mama and bubba and papa (or the like).
Notice a trend here? These ‘regressions’ are happening with major life events. But wait! Their entire life is one big event. Think back, I bet you can even remember a ‘regression’ about six months when they started to sit. Everything they are doing is forward learning and growing and it doesn't stop.
So sleep regression…? I don't believe this is a thing. What they are going through is not a regression. It is a PROGRESSION!
And yes, that can affect their nights and sleep, but just like it does for adults.
When I am learning something new and exciting my brain is on fire, rapidly sending messages and consolidating and working for me. If we as adults can't turn off our brain, (and please let's not try) how can we expect a baby to turn off theirs?
Does sleep training work? I don’t believe so, not only in that I believe it is neglectful to your child’s needs, but also because it CANNOT guarantee you a continual sleep pattern.
Night waking is normal!
Night waking is often very healthy!
And most of all, I promise this too will shift. You will get more sleep…soon-ish.
~I help parents co-create safe and effective sleep plans for their family.
To a Confident, Sexy, Love filled life! Kimberly Lindsay, BA, CPCC, ORSCC, IBCLC
Mental Fitness Coach for Spiritual & Creative Moms:
Who are ready to ditch their saboteurs so they can show up
as the partner, parent, and person they want to be - getting back to self and back to roots.