I am currently on a few parenting pages on social media and have noticed that sleep is one of the most popular topics being discussed and alongside that, the term sleep regression is cropping up more frequently. Being a Mum who never read any baby books or who never signed up to baby websites (because I chose to ‘learn on the job’!) there are times when I read these terms and wonder if too many parents are getting far too worked up over them. In the last week I have heard of the 4 month, 6 month, 1 year, 18 month and 2 year sleep regressions. I can honestly, hand on heart say that not one person mentioned these regressions to me when Jake was a baby. All I knew was that a baby wakes you up at night and when you have one you need to be prepared for this. I never once imagined that almost 3 years later I would still be sleep deprived!
If you are in a cycle of your baby waking a lot in the night, panicking about how they may never sleep again and that it is only your baby who doesn’t sleep , just stop. For starters every child is different. Your friends’ babies may sleep right now and they may look refreshed and have it all together but they may discover issues further down the line. I will let you into a little secret… Jake has always been a terrible sleeper. I watched as other Mothers talked about how their little ones slept 12 hours a night from four months old. I was so envious that they had the energy to be chirpy in the baby group and I just could not understand why my baby was the odd the one out. He did begin to sleep better once food was introduced but each time new teeth came in we went through the sleep battle again. He was never a ‘put down for a nap’ baby, I rocked until my arms hurt and he finally dozed off. I held him because when he was laid down he would wake and on the most difficult days I used the car to get him off to sleep.
For a while, he started to enjoy bedtime and we were led into a false sense of sleep security… don’t be fooled! Once the molars started to cause issues the night time awakenings began again. At the same time he was changing at such a rate that he was showing new skills each week, learning new words and watching everything we were doing; taking it all in. It felt as though his little brain just never switched off! He never wanted to miss out on anything and he could fight sleep like I have never seen anybody do in my life. He would wear me out just watching him. When the naps finally came to an end part of me was so relieved. Most parents mourn this time but, for me, it was one less sleep battle in my day. This led to bedtime becoming easier because he was more than ready to sleep.
Unfortunately, this has been followed by his new ability to go longer in the day and again fight us at night plus, to top it off, he is now in his own bed and can get up and just suddenly appear standing next to our bed. When this first happens be prepared to jump out of your skin! He has since learnt that he can sneak into our bed and get back off to sleep without even waking us. If I do wake I do the usual blurry eyed walk across the landing to take him back to his own bed and attempt to settle him down – this can often result in a back and forth, back and forth routine. I bought a gro-clock which lasted two nights because he said the light was keeping him awake. We changed his room around, we bought him a new bed with a memory foam mattress so it was like Mummy and Daddy’s and we continued to take him back to his own bed. Guess what? Nothing has worked. He still wants us, he still hates bedtime and he still thinks he’s the Duracell bunny!
The truth is, at some point, every child will change their sleep patterns. It has nothing to do with them being naughty or difficult. These regressions have everything to do with growing, developing and huge changes occurring in their tiny lives. And, as I have said, time and time again in my blogs, a baby is not textbook and they will not all follow these charts or lists or go through the phases at the exact month stated. When we have seen Jake go through these sleep problems we have also seen a change in him as a person. He is constantly learning and taking in information. He is becoming a proper little person now and his personality is taking shape. It WON’T last forever and you only feel like it will right now because you are so tired and worn out that it seems as though things will never just be straight forward again (although once you have a child is anything ever straight forward?!)
More importantly, don’t compare your baby’s sleep patterns to others. You may have a baby that feeds often, a baby who doesn’t enjoy being apart from you, you may live in a noisy area, you may have a baby who is teething badly or perhaps a colicky baby… the list could go on. Do you know who know’s your baby best? You do!
Concentrate on what is right for you and your family at that time. And, hey, you can always sleep when they are teenagers!