Sleep regressions and me

I can’t believe I’m writing this, thinking about this, googling this YET AGAIN but I am:

Sleep regressions

(are horrible)

I know the theory of sleep regressions…that they are a signal of progression. That my son will be experiencing marvellous developmental leaps. That previously alienated neurons will be finding ways of connecting.

I’m happier than anyone will ever know that this is all happening for him, I really am.

It’s just in the midst of these regressive visits, two things whirl uppermost in my mind:

  1. I am the only person in the world EVER to have a child that won’t go to sleep/stay to sleep, and therefore I must be fundamentally flawed as a parent
  2. My child will never sleep well again, which means that I too will never sleep well again

Yet when LJ does sleep well (which is most of the rest of the time) I would never presume to attribute it to my parenting. It’s just good luck.

LJ has been fairly textbook experiencing each sleep regression. So in an attempt to remember how far we have come, and also because this might help other people desperately googling in the middle of the night here is a potted history of our sleep regressions:

6 weeks

  • Waking up every two hours to feed for two/three nights

How we coped: It was short. He made up for it in daytime sleep. We were lucky he wasn’t doing this for the whole first six weeks. And it all seemed part of the hideous magical newborn experience.

On reflection: I don’t remember this being fun to be honest. I was knackered. And away from home so it was just me doing the nights. But in a sort of hazy way I suppose it was alright. I did mention it was short didn’t I?

4 months

  • Waking in the night for TWO hours every night for about 10 days.

How we coped: I’m not sure in all honesty that I did.

It was exhausting because of the wakefulness, but also because all I could think to do was feed him constantly to get him back to sleep. It didn’t work.

I could not work out what was happening or why. I was not familiar with sleep regressions at this time and I thought my life was going to be like this forever.

On reflection: Well my life obviously isn’t like that now, which is good. But this regression was the start of me becoming obsessed with sleep and anxious about every aspect of it. I wish I hadn’t let it get to me as much looking back, but we’re all so bloody wise in hindsight.

It was over the Christmas holidays and I have a memory that I think will become pleasant one day of Andrew and I wishing ‘Happy New Year’ at midnight to our very awake 4 month old.

This post by Mannlymama saved my sanity. I remember exactly the moment I found it, nodded along to all of, took comfort that she was a second time mum and so she knew it wouldn’t last, and then printed it out and kept it in my pocket to read when I was wobbling.

8, 9, 10 months

  • I think this regression is supposed to happen at some point in those three months. I’m fairly sure LJ’s came about 8 months and stayed for all three.
  • Lots of night wakings and comfort feeding. Long unsettled bedtimes. Separation anxiety in droves.

How we coped: I was still sure I’d broken LJ and found these few months quite stressful. My Babycalm teacher sent me unbelievably reassuring words of advice along with these articles on Normal, Human Infant Sleep:

Feeding method and development
Changing patterns
Night nursing’s importance
Normal parenting for sleep

On reflection: I can remember feeling quite desperate and I’ve got the email (subject: Help!) to prove it. But it does seem much more hazy than 4 months.

18 months

  • Separation anxiety was the biggest factor in this one with bedtimes extremely hard work.

How we coped: We were old hands at this point. And LJ had finished breastfeeding so while we didn’t have that as a back-up, it also meant we could share the pressure point of put down time

On reflection: honestly haven’t even given it a thought.

2 years…aka right now

  • LJ believes bedtime is a marathon
  •  He doesn’t want to be alone, and is seemingly a bit scared of the dark as well.

How we’re coping: I believe bedtime should be somewhere between a sprint and a short jog round the block so LJ and I are disagreeing.

No nap gives a peaceful, easy bedtime but an upset and angry afternoon. I’m not sure that this exhausting solution is fair on him or, longterm, very sound.

I don’t actually believe this is a sleep regression. I believe this is how my life is now. I will NEVER get to bed before midnight again.

image

If you are suffering through any of the above sleep regressions or anything else that upsets the sleepy apple cart (illness, teeth, holidays, heat etc etc) here are some pearls of wisdom:

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself
  • Your baby is not the only baby to go through these regressions
  • Start consistently every night, ie continue the bedtime routine as usual. That way the base will be there for your baby/child to fall back on when the regression passes
  • Bear in mind above point but look after yourself and do whatever you need to do to get through.
  • If, in carrying out the above point, anyone utters the words ‘rod for your own back’ walk away
  • However annoying it is to hear this from smug ‘been there people’ when you are about to collapse from tiredness and stress, remember that it will pass

If I could send a little package of sympathy, chocolate cake and a cup of tea through the internet to you right now I would.

Good luck!

A Cornish Mum
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18 thoughts on “Sleep regressions and me

  1. The joys hey? 😉
    Mine are a little bit older so sleep well, but stay up later and mess around for at least an hour at bedtime. My down time is now a constant stream of small people on bedtime avoidance strategies. Yawn!

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  2. I really feel your pain. Small boy is almost 3 and will now sleep through 5 out of 7 nights but even up until the last month he was waking up in the evening every night, luckily he’d settle when we went to bed but it was a real pain in the backside when I just wanted a bit of chill time without a long limbed heavy child to heave around the bedroom trying to soothe. Plus he gets up at 6am usually. I tried dropping his nap but I couldn’t handle the afternoons, they were traumatising!

    He is such a sweetie first thing and I try to think of it as our special mummy son time. As I mainline cups of tea and try and keep my eyes open to watch his spiderman jumps! 😀

    So no words of wisdom I’m afraid but you are totally not alone and I have hope it will get better as 4 yr old big girl sleeps like a dream and will even lie in! I think chocolate cake should actually be prescribed to sleep deprived people!

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  3. Ahh thank you! Yes I completely agree about the chocolate cake! Sounds like you have a wonderful way of thinking about the mornings. I imagine you’ll really cherish those times looking back (I annoyed myself saying that, but I do believe that’s true…I think that in our evenings. My son can be really sweet even when he’s not sleeping and I try and remember how much I’ll probably enjoy remembering it when he’s old and left home!). Completely know what you mean about the afternoons, almost but not quite worth it. Traumatising indeed. Thank you for your solidarity lovely x

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  4. I was one of those mums that everyone hates. My son is a beautiful sleeper, slept through since ten weeks, never had sleep regression, still a beautiful sleeper and napper. Hate me yet? Then read this. Someone decided I’d had enough of a good time and gave me a horror of a sleeper second time round. It’s like he googles sleep regression and if he finds someone else has had one at the stage he is at then he copies. Which means after a regression (i.e. – a few bad nights), he’ll sleep through twice, even three times in a row, to pop me into a false sense of security before a couple more bad nights. Little poop. (and during those good nights he conspires with te cats who decide to meow all night).

    I have no words of wisdom except this – turn the monitor off during the tantrums. Some nights it doesn’t matter if I’m with him or not, he’ll still bellow. So make it easy on yourself and turn that bad boy off (we can still hear him – it’s just not projected). I check on him and make sure he’s ok every few minutes but I dont need the yells coming straight into my room. Call me mean but it saves my sanity 🙂 Good luck, I truly sympathise #picknmix

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    1. Ahh no! I sympathise too! And it’s always so annoying if something other than the children are keeping you awake…shhh cats! On balance I think I would call my son a pretty ok sleeper so I’m dreading it if a have a second one…but your first sounds utterly amazing! They are all so different aren’t they? I was the second child bad sleeper for my mother – Fascinating how some babies can be completely unaffected sleep wise by anything. These little people are certainly random. Thank you for commenting and sharing too xx

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    1. They definitely do that don’t they! Ahh lovely to hear about your four month old, I hope the good sleep continues. There is absolutely nothing scientific in my next statement but a lot of my friends with girls have more consistent sleepers than my friends with boys (not necessarily better mind but more consistent) so fingers crossed for you. Thanks for commenting x

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  5. I really feel you pain if it is not one in my house its another I don’t even remember the last time I had a full nights sleep its awful isn’t it! mine are all boys btw so you might be more lucky #PickNMix

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  6. I have always been very lucky, my boys who are 9 and 11 now slept through from 7 and 8 weeks old. I contribute this partly to genetics as they, myself and my own Mum are ridiculous heavy sleepers!

    I still get sleepless nights though, as my eldest has had Type 1 Diabetes since he was 5 and some nights his blood glucose levels just won’t behave so I have alarms set for 2am and 4am…yet unless I actually have to wake him to eat he sleeps through it all including me testing the blood from his finger!

    You definitely have my sympathy for sleep deprivation, when we’re having a bad week I really can’t function! Crossed fingers the sleep regression stops!

    Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix
    Stevie x

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    1. Thanks stevie…oh dear. That doesn’t sound good. Sounds like you are well practised at the nighttime adventures. How amazing that your son sleeps through that though! They are all so different aren’t they!?
      I think when you have good sleepers an unsettled patch can feel so awful because you are not trained up for it. Thanks for hosting #picknmix

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  7. Just to provide a counterpoint to the ‘good sleeper’ stories – you’re definitely not alone! My son of 17 months is alas, in one long sleep regression. Bar a blissful few weeks where he consistently slept through until 3-4am, he’s been waking every 2-3 hours since he was about 3 months old (prior to that he didn’t sleep at all unless actively breastfeeding). Co-sleeping at some stage in the night and various rounds of semi-successful sleep training have been the only way to cope. Hoping for a better sleeper next time round (if indeed we ever have the energy to contemplate another child!). Good luck! Sure it will pass soon…

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    1. Ahh no! Definitely sending you some virtual cake, caffeine or whatever you need. The tiredness is the thing I’m most worried about having a second (well apart from their health of course!). I read a great post once called something like ‘how I got my child to sleep through the night by the time they were two and a half in 133 easy steps’. It was very funny and very good…If I remember who wrote it I’ll send it your way! X

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