The newborn period can be a trying time for new parents: a tiny, fragile human is completely dependent on you for everything, and it doesn’t have an efficient way to communicate exactly what it wants.
The biggest challenge for most new moms and dads is sleep deprivation. Just when you think your baby has settled into a sleep routine that somewhat resembles that of a normal human, he suddenly starts waking in the night again. This is known as sleep regression, and commonly pops up at around four months, 8-10 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years of age.
Fortunately, most babies won’t experience sleep regression during all of these periods, and regression phases typically only last one to four weeks.
In most cases, sleep regression is a normal, healthy part of infant development. The most common causes of sleep regression are teething, naturally shifting naptimes, and developmental milestones, such as learning to crawl or walk. Here are a few ways to get through sleep regression phases as painlessly as possible:
Maintain baby’s nighttime routine. If this involves a bath, rocking, cuddles, or a lullaby, keep it up. Use a pacifier. If you’re not opposed to pacifier use, this is one way to let baby self-soothe. Just make sure that it doesn’t create a choking or strangulation hazard.
Try sleep training. There are dozens of methods; you may have to experiment for a while to find a style that works for you.
Create a healthy sleep environment. The room should be dark, cool, and quiet. Blackout curtains can help cut down on exterior light. If you haven’t already started the nightlight habit, don’t introduce it now. Recent studies have shown that a cooler room temperature promotes better sleep; some experts recommend a temperature of 68 to 72 degrees for babies. Use a white noise machine to help drown out noises.
If you’re dealing with baby sleep regression, just know that you’re not alone and there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.
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