What are Sleep regressions?

If you are a parent or you work with children, you have most likely heard about sleep regressions.

In this article, I will try to explain what is going on.

Developmental changes

Children are constantly changing, growing, adapting and learning. Each child reaches their milestones at different rate e.g. not every baby sits up at the same age.

When children are learning, their brain is processing a lot of new information.

Research has shown when a baby has spent time in the day practicing a new skill e.g. maybe crawling, their brain is still active when they go to bed. This is maybe why your child finds it difficult to settle at night while they ponder their new found super power and even practice it in their cot! The part of the brain they have been using the most, in this case gross motor skills, is still firing & lighting up like a firework show even after they go to sleep.

Amazing, right!?

What will happen during a sleep regression

I don’t really like term regression, and in fact, there is no scientific evidence to back up sleep regressions!

There is plenty of evidence about development, and also about how a baby’s sleep matures and evolves.

What parents usually notice is that their baby’s sleep suddenly changes. They might notice any of the following

  • Refusal to nap
  • Waking soon after falling asleep
  • Resistance to fall asleep at bedtime
  • More night waking
  • Waking up early in the morning
  • Waking up seeming tired still

It’s often a combination of all these things. As frustrating and worrying as it is, I can assure you that your baby hasn’t lost the ability to sleep, it’s just sleep isn’t a priority for your little one during this developmental leap.

When do ‘regressions’ typically occur?

Sleep distributions can occur at any time of developmental change. There are, of course, some well-known times around 4-5 months and 8 months.

4-5 month ‘regression’

As a newborn, your baby transitioned from awake to asleep via REM (dreaming) sleep. The brain activity during REM sleep is very similar to the activity during wakefulness, and babies often fall asleep easily – whether in your arms, during a feed, or with a little bit of movement.

Their sleep cycle is also quite short, and they simply alternate between REM sleep and deep sleep. As their sleep cycle matures, they transition from awake to asleep via a completely new state of sleep that they have not experienced before – light sleep. It’s a type of non-REM sleep, and may well feel quite unfamiliar to your baby. For this reason, it seems that many babies suddenly struggle to ‘switch off’ and go to sleep.

4-5 month old babies are often distractible, stimulated by their environment, eager to interact and learn, and find new experiences, places and people exciting. At this age babies are learning a huge amount, cooing, smiling more and perhaps rolling.

Also they are starting to be able to stay awake between naps for longer now, typically having 4 naps per day.

During any phase of development, babies may seem unsettled, and will need more support to enable them to sleep. In truth all of us have times we cant sleep due to studying, stress or excitement. These different emotional states can have us all laying in bed for hours waiting for our minds to switch off. However, it’s only a phase in our life, and your little ones too. We don’t lose the ability to sleep and helping them with good sleeping habits now will help them to cope with all of these states throughout life.

8 month regression

At this age, babies are babbling, probably learning to stand with some help, crawl, clapping hands, waving and lots of other new tricks.

If your 7-9 month old baby has suddenly become fretful when you leave to go to the bathroom, or answer the doorbell, chances are separation anxiety is to blame.

Around this time You may need to drop the last nap of the day this typically occurs around 8-9months.

Remember to make the lunchtime nap a bit longer and the bedtime a bit earlier, or you’ll end up with an overtired baby by bedtime, and you may get sleep resistance due to excessive tiredness.

How to help your baby during sleep regressions

Focus on the things you can help you baby with, it’s easy to feel out of control at this time.

  • Keep calm. Babies pick up on our vibes! It’s understandable that you’d find bedtime and nap times stressful if they have suddenly become a challenge. Remember it’s temporary.
  • Re-evaluate your naps. Does your little one need to drop a nap? Watch your baby’s individual tired cues and try to be responsive to them.
  • Maintain your predictable, positive and calming routines. Stick with whatever worked before… don’t switch things up.
  • If naps have shortened, stay close to your baby so you can help them transition between sleep cycles. You could lay a hand on them as they stir and guide them back to sleep.
  • You could consider using white noise with babies under 6 months, and pink noise with babies over 6 months. Studies have shown pink noise promotes deep sleep.

How long do sleep regressions last?

Sleep regressions last between 7-10 days, on average.

During this stressful time parents contact me after trying numerous methods, to settle their baby. Because what they did before has no soothing effect anymore. My advise during this unsettled time is to stay consistent in your response.

Studies have shown it can take 2-3 weeks to form a habit, so try not to switch things up.

Stick to what your baby knows, weather that’s rocking or patting them to sleep.

Then once the developmental leap has ended they will fall back into their sleeping patterns more quickly.

Sleep regressions can cause parents a lot of stress. But sometimes the fear of one can be worse than the experience. Try to stay calm, and remember that all phases eventually come to an end.

*useful tools The Wonder Weeks App*

I am a Maternity nurse and Holistic Sleep Coach, offering home consultations, as well as Skype or telephone consultations helping families throughout the uk and overseas.

Night Nanny

Diane has helped us for 6weeks now, she is a reassuring presence. Guiding us through those first few hazy days.
Diane met us at home on our first day back from Northampton general hospital.
It was such a comfort to know she would be there waiting for us.
She stayed with us for the first 72hrs, then looked after our son, 3 nights a week.
I never felt as though Diane was taking over,
My husband & I felt safe to sleep & recover
Knowing our son was being cared for.
Sleep deprivation is overwhelming, I spent the first 3months in a daze with my first child.
Having a Maternity nurse/ night nanny,eliminates this.
Diane was also able to gentle stir my son into a lovely routine, her knowledge and understanding helped us through some tricker times too.
Don’t hesitate, invested in sleep 💤

Kristina & mark73086EC2-0498-43CD-87B5-2FD39C055939

Keeping your toddler help while you feed the Baby!

Do you have a toddler and a new baby?
Or are you expecting one soon?

If you are in this position, this tip may be useful for you.

Put together a special ‘feeding basket’ for your toddler, for each time you are sitting feeding your baby. Put in toys, books and a doll that they haven’t seen before. Things like sticker books, or fuzzy felt work really well as you can help them with one hand.

It is nice to put a doll in the basket, as then your child can ‘feed’ their baby like you are doing with their brother or sister.

If you are breastfeeding, lots of toddlers pretend to breastfeed as well, it is really cute, and keeps them entertained while you are tied up with feeding!

Pop to the £ shop and get a few things each week to add in, so there is always something new in there for them to find!!

Give it a go! 9AB4629C-4EB8-4434-8D20-99E898A4C49A

Happy Baby!

I went to Diane for some help with my 8 months old and 3 year old. The 8 month old was breast feeding 2/3 times a night but waking about 5 times expecting me to settle him. The 3 year old kept coming into our bed and waking up the baby and us a few times as well. So in total I was getting no sleep… I was exhausted all the time!
I spoke to Diane and we chatted through the issues and how best to deal. We agreed a structure to try to follow. 1 week later I now have two children that sleep through! Go to sleep at 6.30/7pm until 6.30/7am. I’m ecstatically happy! And have had the most sleep this week than I have in 3 years! Most importantly the baby and toddler are happy too because they are getting better quality sleep. X thank you Diane!

Does my baby have Reflux!?

If you feel your baby may have Reflux, speak to your health visitor or Doctor straight away. Sadly many parents feel they aren’t being listened to, here are a few tips.

keep a diary for a few days, take videos of your baby’s episodes.. and present them as visual evidence. Make them listen!!

Ask a friend to come to the appointment with you, someone who is sleep deprived. You may be exhausted & emotionally charged, this won’t help get your point across.

Do not feel embarrassed, keep going back time after time. Don’t be fobbed off!

If you still have no enjoy, and finances will allow go private to a specialist.

Support is essential, visit forums and chat to mums online. Have a look at www.livingwithreflux.org

Finally trust your instincts

Family Portrait Photographer in Northampton

In my line of work I meet lots of lovely people that work with children. Andy Nickerson is a family portrait photographer in Northampton and he’s given me some advice to share on choosing a family portrait photographer…

family portrait 1

How to choose a family portrait photographer?

Choosing someone to shoot your children’s portraits sounds straightforward enough, but it’s an investment and a shared family experience so its worth your time and research. Here’s a quick guide to help you find the right family photographer for your needs.

Specialism

Does your chosen photographer have the credentials? This may sound pretty obvious, but take a moment to look at their training, experience and specialism. Most photographers favour a specific interest eg, school photography, family portraiture, commercial or weddings, although some may cover many other so it’s worth looking at their portfolio to check out which genre they really shine at, not just jack of all trades.

Timing

Children are amazing through all their ages and stages, but timing is an important consideration. For instance, if your 7 year old has lost several teeth you might want to wait a couple of months for photos when they feel less self conscious and goofy! Equally, if your baby is not yet smiling, it’s worth waiting till they smile around 6 weeks old as this is a smile you’re going to fall in love with. If they’re ill on the day of the shoot, postponing is likely to be the better option to get the best out of them at a later date.

Safety

Is your family photographer someone you feel is trustworthy? Are they qualified or hold lots of experience? When choosing a family photographer, ask questions about safety. Eg, there are particular industry considerations for posing newborn babies that should be observed. You could also ask about safety in the studio if you have an energetic 2 year old as there will be lots of heavy equipment around. During the shoot, don’t be afraid to ask questions and ensure that the photographer puts your children’s safety as priority.

Style and Quality

Are you thinking classically posed shots, or are you looking for informality to capture the purity and natural expression of childhood? There’s no right or wrong and it really is down to personal taste, but do think ahead and consider fashion. The photographs are an investment you’ll want to last the test of time so it’s important to consider quality too, especially if you opt for bespoke artwork. After all, if you could capture the same quality and expertise at home you wouldn’t be seeking professional photography, so make your session count.

Three quick questions to ask yourself when short-listing your family photographer based on style and quality include:

  • Does their portfolio show children looking comfortable capturing a variety of expressions and aspects of their real character?
  • Will the image stand the test of time or is it a current fad?
  • Has it been professionally edited/retouched? ie, has flaky skin been retouched or any temporary marks and scratches been removed?

Location

Practically, are you within travelling distance of your favourite family photographer or would it be best for you to commission a home service? Studio photography is a specialism in it’s own right, while location photography means you have the photographer come to you, space allowing. There are pros and cons t to both, and again it’s down to preference.

Cost

Great portrait photography is an art form and suffice to say prices will often vary to reflect both the experience and talent of the professional photographer. Often if something seems priced as too good to be true, then it probably is. Be sure to ask your photographer about any hidden costs and expect clarity. Any business worth their salt will offer honesty and transparency. The web is full of stories where this isn’t the case so research pays off rather than meeting hard sell head on.

Reviews

The web is a great place to do your homework. Netmums is a great website to find honest customer reviews to make an informed choice as are the photographer’s business Facebook pages. Friends and family are perhaps even better sources for honest reviews.

Purchasing

The trend of receiving digital images remains popular, but a disk of images unprinted and unappreciated is often not the best option. Most photographers sell professionally presented bespoke artwork, helping to ensure your beautiful images get seen everyday, ensuring commissioning a photographer is worth your while.

Family-portrait

These pointers should help you make a good investment. Perhaps most important is to enjoy your shoot, as every time you view your images you can treasure the lasting memory of a memorable family outing together.

One mums experience

Slowly, I backed out of the room and closed the door as gently as I could. I didn’t realise I’d been holding my breath until I’d crept half way down the stairs on tip toes and once I was back in the lounge I let it out, thankful that he was still asleep then just as I collapsed into an exhausted heap on the sofa, I heard the all too familiar sound of crying that made my heart drop and tears of frustration and tiredness fill my eyes and threaten to fall… he was awake again.

You see, my 7.5 month old son didn’t sleep… ever.

Night after night, I’d sit on the sofa with him on my chest falling asleep. I’d think, ‘yes okay this is it, he’s going…’ but ten minutes later he’d start tossing and turning. This carried on for hours until my husband and I brought him upstairs into our bed where he would sleep for a few hours and then wake up again.

With a 2 year old to also look after, life was becoming incredibly hard. I spent all day holding/tending to him and then he’d sleep for ten minutes or an easily disturbed hour and it HAD TO BE IN MY ARMS! I was down, easily upset and fed up.

I craved to have an evening where I could just sit down and have a moment to myself. I wanted to just read or watch a film with my husband and just have my hands free to do whatever I wanted and the more I needed that, the more desperate I became until, faced with another dreadful night of no sleep and a restless baby, my husband Wesley came home to find me crying in despair.

We knew I needed to get help. Not the kind of help a shrink or therapist could offer but someone to train my son. I needed someone to help me bring back my life and create some balance.

Introducing Diane. Her colleague recommended I contact her and I did… a long garbled outpouring of desperation in an email and she understood fitting me in as soon as possible. I was so relieved. The next few nights whilst we waited were some of the hardest and one night standing in the kitchen so tired I could barely see in front of me with an awake baby in my arms, my husband told me ‘help is on the way’. I knew it was, but I couldn’t see beyond that night… I couldn’t imagine my life being any different than it was now. My son didn’t sleep. Surely I was mad to think that someone was going to come in and change the way my son had been for 7.5 months of his life. It was just wishful thinking, wasn’t it?

But I was completely wrong.

Lovely Diane came to stay with us for 36hours… a breath of bubbly fresh air and my children loved her. She asked me questions, listened and then we went to work implementing the plan she constructed for Alexander. She knew and understood his needs and the fact that he was a tough cookie to crack. My son’s stubbornness didn’t faze her at all and she was right there, every step of the way guiding me.

The first night he was put to sleep in his cot and he slept!! A miracle!! He woke up once and that feeling of solid sleep was bliss. I felt energized and renewed. My husband commented how happy I seemed. That day, he actually went down for his naps and I sat at lunchtime with nothing to do for the first time in months. That night he slept in his cot again and I was shocked that this was the same boy who only days before had been so restless and unsettled.

Diane had changed my life overnight.

I went from an over tired, weepy, fed up mother in despair to one who had time to do all my household chores, play with my two year old and enjoy every second of my son. Both of my children now go to bed at 7pm thanks to Diane and I have my evenings back. I can watch a film with my husband and read a book, write and just RELAX AND BREATHE!

To any mums out there who right now feel how I felt, who are sitting up in the early hours of the morning with a baby who won’t sleep and every part of your body aches with tiredness and desperation, contact Diane.

I would recommend you to have her come into your home and for just one night, let her change your life and help you to start being YOU again. You deserve it. I’m writing this in bed, my husband is next to me reading and it’s 8.30pm. My house is silent and my two children (thanks to Diane) are in bed fast asleep. My marriage is thriving and I’m at such a happy point in my life again after months of hardship.

I just wish everyone struggling could read this and understand that you’re not alone. Help is on it’s way… if you want it.

This has literally been life changing for us

“What a difference a week can make! If someone had told me a few days ago that our 8 month old son would be sleeping through the night and having daytime naps in his cot without protest, I would not have believed you…! I contacted Diane (through recommendation) when I was at the end of my tether. Our lovely boy had never been a great sleeper and I had found myself in an exhausting, relentless rut. I was feeding him to sleep at night which was becoming increasingly difficult as he would wake as soon as I transferred him to his cot, and during the day required me to walk, take a car journey or carry him in a sling to get him to drift off – he just couldn’t be put down. My whole day revolved around getting him to sleep and bedtime would be fraught for the whole family.

I’m pleased to say, with Diane’s help, this is now no longer the case and the improvement has far exceeded my expectations. Diane came to our home, listened to our many problems and formulated a plan for us to stick to. Her phone calls, texts and emails throughout that week was just the support I needed, offering reassurance, advice and motivation. This has literally been life changing for us – after 8 months I now have my evenings back and time to myself during the day, resulting in a happy mummy and baby! AMAZING! I would advise anyone who is thinking about hiring Diane to simply go for it – a good night’s sleep is just around the corner!”

Laura Hill, March, 2015