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.
Dealing with Daycare Naps
I received so many questions last week about naps and daycare that it inspired me to do a blog post about it. I got questions such as “How do I talk with my provider?” and “Do I just give them a schedule?” so I wanted to address the most common ones I hear.
Whether it’s with a family member, a daycare class with multiple children, a homebased daycare with different age ranges or with a nanny, ensuring your child’s caregivers provide the same consistency that you give at home will keep your little one sleeping well while you’re away. Besides, you shouldn’t lose all of the great work you’ve done with your child’s sleep as soon as they leave your arms!
Sleep begets sleep… crappy naps = crappy night sleep, plain and simple. If your child gets good naps during the day, then they’ll sleep better at night.
Let me know if this has ever happened to you…you leave your baby or toddler in the care of someone else while you’re at work, that you absolutely trust, but you spend at least some of your day worrying that your little one is taking good nap(s). Sound familiar?
So what’s the best way to start the conversation about your child’s naps with your daycare provider?
Read on to check out my favorite tips for creating a great sleep relationship with your daycare provider.
Tip #1: What is your provider’s policy on naps?
Do all of the children in the class nap at the same time or do the provider(s) put them to bed when they’re tired? If your provider has a set nap time for all children, such as 12:30pm for children over 12 months of age, then try to stick with the same schedule at home. If your child sleeps well at daycare but not at home, stick with the same naptime schedule and allow your child some quiet time to rest and play quietly with a stuffed animal or book.
If your child is under 12 months of age, talk with your provider about your baby’s current schedule to make sure your baby isn’t awake too long in between naps, naps are evenly spaced throughout the day and is being put to sleep in a similar fashion like you’re doing at home. Talk with your provider about your nap schedule at home and ask them to put baby down around the same time.
If your provider has a differing opinion about your baby’s nap schedule, see how you can come to a compromise. When all else fails, call me and I’ll mediate!
Tip #2: Where does your child sleep?
Movies or music playing, bright rooms, other kids running around…what’s a baby to do when it’s time to get to sleep?
Take a look at the area where your child will sleep. If baby is under 12 months of age, they should certainly be sleeping in a crib or pack ‘n play, never in a swing, car seat or bouncy seat. Ask them to put your child to sleep in the darkest part of the room as possible. If your baby uses a sleep sack or other wearable blanket, have a second just for daycare. Talk with your provider to find out the process they use to put children down for a nap and see how close you can get it to your way of doing things. And if your child isn’t used to being held and rocked to sleep, suggest that your provider doesn’t either.
Tip #3: Keep track of naps
When you pick up your child at the end of the day, ask your about how the day went…how were naps, how long did they last and when did they occur? Bonus points if your provider provides emails or text messages with a log of this information! If your child’s nap was a shorter than normal or skipped a nap, consider putting them to bed a little early (about 30 minutes) that night to catch up on some much needed sleep.
Not sure if your baby has the right nap schedule? Send me a note at christine@sleepsolutionsbychristine and we’ll schedule a time to chat through it and find the right nap schedule for your baby or child.
Nightmares vs Night Terrors
Walking through a large store last weekend with my daughter, she asked to go through the Halloween section. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised but also excited that she’s starting to enjoy one of my favorite holidays! We turned down the aisle and she ran right past the candy, the girly costumes, the silly masks… then stopped cold in her tracks in the face of a creepy looking clown thing that you hang up on your front porch to greet trick or treaters. The look on her face said it all… Yikes!
Is my child getting enough naps?
I often meet parents who say their child doesn't nap and it's one of the major reasons that nighttime sleep doesn't go well either. Ensuring your child is getting enough age-appropriate daytime sleep is a key component of good nighttime sleep... so how do you know?
First, newborns up to 3 months of age should be taking 4-5 naps per day, babies 3-6 months 3-4 naps, babies 6-11 months 2-3 naps and babies 12 months and older usually take 1 nap per day. Naps should be around an hour in length.