Hello everyone, let me just start by saying the following is NOT a joke. I'm going to open your eyes and give you a tiny bit of help and inaight into the ONE thing absolitely no fucking person even uttered a single syllable about whilst I was pregnant - Sleep Regression! I'm serious, if you don't have kids or are a first time parent the odds are that you've never heard of it either, until now. So please, pull up a seat and bring some tissues because you may cry at the realisation that this will probably happen to you!
What is sleep regression? I saw it described as when your child goes from 'baby' sleep patterns to more 'adult' sleep patterns meaning that they have 4 cycles instead of 2 resulting in them waking up faster and more frequently but let me explain this in terms that may be more applicable and easy to understand to me and you. Well, it is when your darling little angel baby who has been sleeping like a fucking pro, suddenly decides that those hours with their head down aren't necessary and eh, you can deal without them too. It's a crying shame, and I mean literal. They cry, you cry, they have you up and next thing you know they fall asleep mid day and you're left zombified legging it round the house with a mop trying to get all your house work done within 20 minutes for fear they will wake up and start the rigmorall all over again. Basically you'll be caught completely off guard if you're anything like me and you'll want to ring your mum and blame her for bestowing this curse upon you. Your baby will go to waking up through the night and if anything like mine he cries and whinges and fights his sleep whilst already IN his sleep. And I held out hope due to being told "oh they settle at about 16 weeks don't worry about the random spats of crying" LIARS! Worry. I mean not so much you miss out on sleep because as described... that's going to happen anyway. My baby would nap through the day and sleep through the night to start with and then POOF as if out of nowhere, the naps dwindled to 20 minutes a piece if that and he would wake with a jolt (also look up Moro effect) he would cry a lot and then the aforementioned sleepless nights.
Why do they regress? Babies regress in sleep because their bodies and minds are developing. It's as if they are having another BIGGER monster of a growth spurt and are just so excited to try new things that they wake themselves up. They physically can't help it and odds are you did it when you were a child too, so getting your parents or care givers a little gift to thank them for those sleep deprived and baggy eyed days would probably not go unnoticed. But the good news is that your little cherub is learning, they are growing they are developing and this makes being kept up that little bit more bearable, I can't tell you the amount of times I've hated it and told my baby they are selfish (sleep deprivation will turn you into a banshee spouting pointless shite, get it out before they understand it, but don't be shouting, babies getting a fright isn't something anyone wants), to only then be filled with tears of joy when he has rolled over or stayed sat up alone or something, it's worth it.
What ages do sleep regressions happen? Okie doke, here's where I make you throw your phone across the room as if it's possessed. Sleep regression usually happens for anywhere between 2-6 weeks yes, 6 looooong weeks of your baby pulling faces like a bull dog and noises like a choking parakeet. The ages they tend to happen are : 4 months (can start as early as 3 and a half like my darling son), 8 months, just as they are talking and learning to crawl/cruise/walk oh the joys, and 18 months. These are the most common, and whilst completely heart breaking and anxiety inducing at the thought, knowledge is power and knowing about it might give you a heads up in order to prepare. As they say..
How do I prepare for sleep regression? Ok it isn't so much preparing physically as it is preparing yourself mentally. Of course you wont know the exact patterns but if you are like me and you love your sleep, you're going to want to make sure you get a chance to have SOME shut eye. Of course with lockdown we didn't get the choice to have ANY help what so ever so me and my boyfriend designed our own, single parents you are superhero's! For instance, if you are due to go to a party, maybe someone could mind your little one for a couple of hours in the day so that you can get some rest before going out so you don't burn out trying to show face and be sociable, it does happen. But mentally I feel like it helps to know what they are going through so as not to panic yourself. My son has a CMPA and so I thought he was going through the motions again and I was going to need to ring the dr yet again because my health visitor has been absolutely pointless since my son was 6 weeks old. So mental preparation can save you a lot of worry and panic, although never blame your baby screaming solely on sleep regression, check temperature and make sure they aren't sick too... it can happen!
How can I stop it? You can't you lunatic! And aside from you missing sleep, why would you want to? Housework, me time, sanity, pep talks to name a few, yes I get it. But this is detrimental to your babies development, thing with babies is, if they are sleeping a lot or not enough there IS a reason for it. Your baby is getting bigger and smarter and ready to run rings round you 🤷♀️ sorry but it's true. While you can't stop it there are a few things you CAN do to make it easier, below I will list a few:
Schedule - I learnt this the hard way. I was raised on the notion 'babies don't follow a schedule they sleep when they sleep' fuck that right off! I'm serious. My son would avoid napping all day, get really whingy to the point he cried for a solid hour at one point (read my getting an infant to sleep - as easy as diffusing a bomb in 'you are not alone) and I had NO idea why. Want to know why? Sleep regression stress. I had no clue what was going on, I was rocking on the couch at one point it wad horrific. So I sought outside help. A friend of mine inboxed me after I publically announced my breakdown due to my demon baby on facebook and she told me about a sleep schedule. She had sought professional help and so she sent me the same. In a nut shell babies need 2 hour intervals, as soon as you see your little one getting sleep fussy, grab that child, hold them close and comfort them, promise you the first time I did this it worked so fast he was out like a light. Don't let this lure you into a false sense of security though, sometimes it's harder than others and he will claw at my eyes like an angry crow, or scream louder like that weird lettuce baby in Harry Potter, but stick it out it's worth it.
Day feed - Ok obviously you are going to feed your baby in the day time. But I mean try get as much feeding done as you can. My baby luckily likes to eat more of a night before bed than he does in the day, but others will work the other way around. The reason I say this is because a full baby is a happy baby. They sleep better, they stay down longer and they put on weight, win for everyone. Of course you can't force feed a baby trust me I've tried, my son decided formula suddenly wasn't good enough and would scrunch his lips up until they somewhat resembled a baby mouses bumhole, it was frustrating to say the least. But when he will keep his mouth open for a feed he eats a fair amount. I'll say one thing, if your baby wont eat 7/8 oz in one go like mine refuses to any more, try 5 oz bottles more often. Ignore guidelines every baby is different (she says preaching sleep regression). Do what you need to do, but we found we were wasting half a bottle almost every time, and ours are small tubs of neocate which are prescribed, so in effect were wasting half a tub meaning prescriptions were needed faster and I hate ringing the drs. So we changed things quickly, 4 and 5 oz bottles were brilliant, our son would wolf down a bottle as opposed to pushing it away because it felt 'too much' so just go with what you know. As I always say...
A dark room is a good room. Not all the time but there is a reason people sleep better in the dark. It allows your brain to switch off and you get drowsy faster. I stay in the room while my baby falls asleep, it works for us. He is still only small and he scares easy if he feels alone. That might sound silly but what I like to remember is that he isn't used to being alone. My son went straight from my boyfriends balls, to womb, to lockdown, being alone is alien to him and whilst I'm trying to introduce it, it doesn't seem right to put him down and run. Dark rooms work brilliant though, we have black out curtains, they were only around the £20 mark and I love them. He sleeps sound, although still waking up quite frequently, but that's sleep regression for you.
Self soothe. I'm not one for putting my son in a room and letting him cry it out as I've just said. But my boyfriend tried it, he lay across the room from him waiting for him to cry it out until he slept... it didn't work. The kids got my will and his dads volume that shit went down like a lead balloon. I like to take a more tender approach. Lately I have taken to lying/sitting next to him and 'shh'ing him to sleep. I also use a womb sound on youtube, it's amazing. We will alternate dummy, bottle, dummy bottle until he finally sticks with one. He usually whinges quietly until he sleeps, but my son does the cutest thing and grabs my hand and puts it to his chest and holds it there as he drifts off. So whilst I'll encourage him fully to self soothe, if that little extra comfort is what he needs in order to not be held or rocked, that's what I'm willing to do. It's baby steps all the way with little ones and it's important to make compromises. The more comforted they feel at this stage, the happier they may be to go to the next without you having to be superglued to their body whilst they sleep, and then YAY freedom... to do house work 🙄.
Last one, reduce time of waking up in the night. Obviously easier said than done but what I mean is this. I used to get woken up at around 3 am (witching hour, wonder why) and I would talk to the baby as I slowly did his nappy so as not to startle him and make him smile, then I'd take my time warming uo his bottle and I'd play with him to keep him entertained, stretching out our night time wake ups to sometimes between 2 and 3 hours long because he'd think it was play time. You'll never believe just how quickly you will learn things in order to preserve your sleep though. I swiftly changed this. I know my babies cues, I feel it in my body, I'm his mum I made the child. You mums will know what I mean, we're hard wired to be awake while we're asleep, one heavy breath too much and we're up. Whilst this is a curse because the babies dad can sleep through it, it's also a bloody beautiful gift from God that I can anticipate him waking up! It literally is like preparing to diffuse a bomb. I'm up like a shot, boom nappy changed, boom bottles in the pan heating (we use a pan upstairs for water, it's just easier seeing as my fella used my good jug to store USED paintbrushes in, prick), the bottles heated and his bum is changed before the babies blinked twice usually these days. It's winding him that is the decider. Sometimes I can dream feed and wind and not a peep, others like 2 nights ago I'll wind, and one look from him and it's play time. How do you stay angry and say no to a baby looking at you with sparkly big blue eyes and a gummy smile chatting away? By passing it to it's dad... that's how 😂. Again single parents, you're super hero's. But trust me reduce the awakr time, anticipate things, even set your alarm and dream feed if you have to, trust me it's a game changer.
Look, I'm honest as they come and I wont lie, some days I just want to stick my son on ebay on the off chance I'll get a full nights sleep, but then I remember, ebay take a cut. I joke. But I do remind myself, these times don't last forever, whilst they feel like they do, they are only small for a tiny amount of time. We wont get these days, months, years back so try to embrace them. Make them easier for you all of course, but don't dwell on them and stress yourself out because I have and all you end up doing is making everyone in the house miserable, and as we all know as a mum to a new baby, your mood can change so quickly along with your mindset. Hormones are still there, you still hate your body and the fact you aren't as glam as you used to be. But honestly, try embrace it. I hope this post has helped anyone struggling with sleep regression, because like I said, no fucker told me! So here I am, telling you.
keep your head up, you're facking fabulous!
Until next time, don't be a stranger and stay safe.
💙 Much Love 💖