New parents are oftentimes surprised to learn that hitting certain development milestones in their baby’s life will interfere with their sleep habits. One of these first development milestones happens at around four months of age. Commonly referred to as the four month sleep regression, it’s a huge mental and physical growth spurt, and it is no joke! Babies’ sleep patterns shift during this time and you will find that they wake often during the night and have a hard time going back to sleep.
From the moment they are born, babies' brains are constantly evolving and adapting to the new environment. During this time, your baby may be learning new skills such as rolling over or sitting up. This intense time of physical effort and growth can interrupt even the best sleeper’s habits.
If your awesome sleeper of a newborn all of a sudden starts waking at all hours, and it’s left you thinking “what in the world is going on?” then you may have entered the four month sleep regression. Newborns typically sleep around 16-18 hours a day, but by the age of 3 to 4 months, babies begin sleeping a little less at around 15-16 hours per day. This adjustment can be tricky for baby to navigate and can also result in additional night time wakings.
So what can you do?
First, it’s important to watch Baby to understand what is going on. Is this a sleep regression caused by developmental milestones, or might there be something else at play such as an illness?
Second, since this is an intense period of learning new skills, it’s a good idea to allow your baby uninterrupted time to practice these new skills during the day. It can be easy to want to step in when they are struggling with things like rolling over or grasping an object, but allowing them space to attempt a new skill, will also help them to exert effort and become more tired when it comes time to nap or sleep.
Third, make sure Baby is taking in full feeds during the day and right before bedtime. Any period of brain development and growth requires more caloric intake for babies. Ensuring they are full and satisfied will keep hungry tummies from waking baby when they should be resting. It’s ok to offer a quick snack feed about 20-30 minutes before you get Baby ready for a nap to top him/her off.
Lastly, as I always recommend, stick to your routine and keep Baby’s room dark. Having a consistent and predictable bedtime routine will cue Baby to the fact that it’s time to sleep. When wakings do inevitably happen, keeping the room as dark as you can will aid in helping Baby to fall back asleep.
You can’t avoid sleep regressions altogether, but you can control how you handle them. Remember that babies can’t tell us what’s going on, so we want to respond with love and comfort. From a few days to a week or two, the regression will end. Remind yourself that this is a short term hiccup and baby will go back to sleeping at night soon.
Let's hear from you! Have you made it through the four month sleep regression? What worked for you?
If you’re not sure if it’s the 4 month, or any other sleep regression, book a free 15-minute call with me and we can talk specifically about your situation to determine what’s going on.
Planning to sleep a little longer this Sunday morning?
It’s time to spring the clocks forward for the annual move to daylight savings time. Have no fear! I’ll tell you exactly what to do to adjust your baby or child’s schedule in 3 simple steps.
1. First, leave your clock alone Saturday night. Wake up Sunday morning at your usual time, have your coffee, then go around your house and change your clocks that didn’t change automatically.
2. Gradually move your child’s bedtime and nap times starting Sunday night.
Children who no longer nap: If your child normally goes to bed at 7:00pm, put him/her to bed at 7:30pm on Sunday night. Do this for 3 nights, then on the 4th night put him to bed at 7:00pm or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.
Toddlers (12 months and older)- Start with naps on Sunday and put your child down for their first nap 30 minutes later than normal on the first night of the time change. If your child usually naps at 9:30am, naptime on Sunday is now 10:00am. Do the same with the afternoon nap if there normally is one. For bedtime on Sunday, if your kiddo’s normal bedtime is 7:00pm, you would put him down at 7:30pm. Do this for 3 nights and then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00pm. Within a week, you’re back to your child’s regular bedtime.
Infants (6-12 months with a predictable bedtime)- If bedtime is normally 7:00pm, move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach the normal time. On Sunday night, you would put baby down at 7:45pm, the second night 7:30pm, and so on. In four nights you should be back to 7:00pm. If their bedtime is not predictable (0-6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night.
3. Make sure your child’s room is as dark as possible. Install blackout curtains if you don’t already have them. Your child may wake up too early with the sun rising so early now in the morning and may struggle to fall asleep while it is still light outside. Even with the extra hours of daylight, your child sleep needs the same amount of sleep. It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep or not seem to be as tired as usual, which is normal. It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to daylight savings time and some children may take up to 3 weeks to adjust. Be patient and consistent, and your child will be sleeping in no time!
If you have any questions about how the time change will affect your child or about your child’s sleep, please send me an email at email@example.com
As your baby gets older, one of the biggest questions parents have is when is their child is ready for a toddler or ‘big kid’ bed. You may be expecting another child, your child is trying to climb out of the crib or just does not seem to ‘like’ the crib anymore. Here are some tips to tell if your child is ready to move out of the crib.
Ask yourself why you’re considering a move out of the crib. If you are expecting another child and you need the crib but your older child is sleeping well, then purchase another crib. Do not change a great sleeping situation if you do not have to. If your child is climbing or attempting to climb out of the crib, make sure the crib is lowered as far as possible. If your child can still get out of the crib, it’s time for a big kid bed.
If you think your child just does not like the bed, take a look at what is going on leading up to bedtime. Is your child getting too excited during play or is your toddler just testing the waters to see if he/she can push bedtime? Make sure you know that if you put your child in a big kid bed that they understand they need to stay in bed all night.
If your child is old enough to ask for a new bed or wants to be like their friend with the big kid bed, it’s probably time to move out of the crib.
Overall, it’s best to wait until your child is closer to 3 years old before switching to a big kid bed. Children younger than 2.5-3 years old may not grasp the concept of staying in bed all night and decide to use their new found freedom to run the house at 3am. Your child has to be ready for a different bed, not you, in order to be successful.
Not sure if your child is ready or have sleep questions?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Schedule a free call and we’ll chat!
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