Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Elizabeth Street


Understanding Your Child's Sleep Regressions

Jul 18, 2013

Understanding Your Child's Sleep Regressions

Once you become a parent, you realize that sleep is precious currency, one you may have taken for granted before your children were born. Lucky parents with great sleepers may not understand how being sleep-deprived can make you bonkers, and parents with babies, toddlers and young children who have difficulty sleeping know all too well how it can take a toll on your days if you're all not sleeping well. Sleep regressions, which can be part of developmental leaps and growth spurts, are trouble spots nearly every child will have at one time or another. Typically they can occur at times of major developmental transitions, with the most notable times being at 6 weeks, 4 months and 6 months. However, Wonder Weeks, an excellent week-by-week analysis of baby-to-toddler development by Danish researchers Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij, says that sleep regressions can also happen at weeks 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46 and 55. Yowza.

The signal that a sleep regression is beginning can be a disruption in sleep—your baby may refuse to nap, bedtime can be nightmarish and quality of sleep can be dismal. Because of this lack of sleep, naturally, you may find yourself saddled with an extremly fussy baby. Rest assured—a sleep regression is temporary, usually lasting only a few days to a week, and is usually followed by a period of better quality sleep (for everyone!). To get through these difficult periods, van de Rijt and Plooij suggest that parents try to be understanding—as hard as lack of sleep is to cope with as an adult, it pales in comparison to the difficult time your baby is having. Loving care, extra soothing and lots of patience will get you through. It's a huge help to know when these sleep traps are potentially on the horizon—forewarned is forearmed, right? Consider marking your calender with the times when you might want to be on high alert, so you're not taken by surprise.

By Biba Milioto

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