The holy grain for every family is sleeping through the night. Sleep regressions can creep in and derail bedtime and how you handle a child waking overnight is going to dictate whether that sleep regression is a quick blip in the developmental growth or a long lasting sleep struggle.
I this video blog, I explain how to best work through your current sleep regression and how to avoid them coming back in the future.
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Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Hi, Courtney Zentz here from tiny transitions. And I want to talk to you today all about sleep regressions. I see a lot of comments in my private Facebook community called slumber Made Simple, where I help lots of Tiger parents to answer all of their sleep struggles. So if you’re not a member of the community, make sure you jump out there and join for free. And a lot of questions I get have to do with sleep regressions, whether a baby’s three months, four months, eight months, 16 months or six years, it always seems like a sleep regression could pop back in and derail your sleep success. So I’m going to talk to you today all about sleep regressions, when you can start to differentiate whether it’s truly a regression or a habit, and then how you correct helping your child or baby to sleep through the night without any wakings. As a pediatric sleep specialist, I work all over the world in a variety of different situations to help tired parents. And the first thing I always ask is, what is your goal? Sleep to every family is different and may look different in your home as well. Some parents will ask me if they can continue to co sleep and successfully sleep train. And for that, I will say no. However, you can create an environment whether your child is in your room or in their own space where they do settle independently for bedtime, sleep through the night and take beautiful inconsistent naps without the need to cry it out or without any type of formal sleep training, if you set them up for success. To start, when you’re trying to differentiate what has happened in your child’s sleep, where perhaps they were sleeping, right, they were sleeping well. And then all of a sudden, one night turned into two night turned into three nights turned into three months later. And you’re still waking up several times, you need to assess first and foremost, what have you done differently. Many times we as parents insert ourselves back into the situation. And then we unknowingly become the reason our child is waking if your child was teething, and then you started to pick them up and rock them to help them feel more comfortable. Guess what they got used to rocking and guess what’s gone away now teething, because that only lasts a couple days. But you created a habit that you’re still looking at as teething when really, it’s become the fact that they’ve built a sleep association to the rocking. As your child grows over 15 or 18 months of age, they’re starting to teeter into toddler territory, believe it or not, where they have this voice that can say no, and they’re willing to exert it. So when you start to talk about sleep regressions, for children over the age of 18 months, you have to look at a behavior reset, you’re doing something and they know you’re going to do it. So you have to stop the behavior on your part. And then set expectations around the behavior on their part. And how you change behavior and toddlers is consequences. So making sure that you’re setting up age appropriate consequences to a specific behavior. And I’ll give you an example. If your child wakes up several times a night and throws the pacifier out of the crib, because they know that you’re going to come in and give it back to them. They are going to continue to throw that pacifier out of the crib until you stop, pick it up and walk out of the room for a few minutes. You know, when it does, your little ones going to be upset, they’re not upset because they need you. They’re pissed off, you took their pacifier and didn’t give it back. The expectation from them was that you were going to hand it back to them, give them a kiss on the forehead, say goodnight and leave the
room and then you’ll be back in there 90 minutes later when they wake again. If you change the expectation, if you set the boundary and then you stick to it, children are going to respond. And with older children, it can sometimes take about a week to get there. When you talk with babies, infants, toddlers, you know, kind of all different ages, and you do have some sort of a crutch or asleep Prop, right? Whether it’s rocking to sleep, bouncing to sleep, feeding to sleep, nursing to sleep, driving to sleep, you see what I’m getting at here, right? The word to sleep is a component for all of these different things. And your child is typically waking anywhere from every 45 to 90 minutes, both for naps and for overnight. And if the only way they know how to go back to sleep is with your support, then they’re going to require that you give them that support to go back down. Well the problem is when they wake up 45 minutes later, they’re looking for the same thing. So rinse and repeat over and over until you again set a boundary. I’m here and I love you but I’m not going to be the mechanism to put you to sleep. I’ll offer calm Through through touch, maybe some gentle back or butt rubs, right? Maybe it’s a little bit of singing or quiet shushing, while you’re in the room with them until they’re back asleep. And then you gradually wean off of that for a few days, you’ve set the boundary now with a baby that says, I’m here, and I love you, I’m going to support your needs. But I’m going to get rid of those desires and wants that you have, right. As a parent, I think sometimes it’s difficult for us to decipher whether or not something is a one, or whether or not something is a need, right? If your child needs you, because they pooped, and they need their diaper changed, because nobody wants to lay in poop all night, great, go in and change them, you always should do some do it, and then rock them to sleep. Right? If your child’s hungry, go in and feed them, it’s totally age appropriate that up till about six months, they need to eat overnight, in many cases, right? Feed them to spoon feed them to sleep, you see that word to sleep consult, easily creep its way back into your day and night, that it then can very quickly derail all of your sleep success. My aunt came to visit when my son was first born. And for two nights, she rocked them to sleep. I asked her not to, but the door was closed. And when she left on Sunday night, he cried for sleep. And before that he was going down peacefully. And I said please don’t do that you’re going to create a habit. And after two days, we did and guess what happened, he cried himself to sleep that night. Now granted, it was only for maybe five or six minutes that he was crying and then he went to bed. But his expectation after only two days was that he was going to get rocked to sleep. And he liked that. Well, who wouldn’t if my husband came upstairs every night with chocolate chip cookies at 3am, I would eat them now you know, I don’t have a stomach. So I’d probably also get sick from it. But if I did have a stomach and I could eat chocolate chip cookies, I would eat them every single time I could. And then I would get used to it. And then the first night that he didn’t come up with a cookie, my body clocks gonna tell me to wake and go, where’s the cookie, right. So you have to be very, very clear around what you’re willing to do. And then what that new boundary is whether it’s a baby or a toddler. When you start to get into older age children, it also is a habit. But sometimes it is caused as a result of something like anxiety at school, the pressure of the craziness of the past year, you know, friendships that are developing, I think self awareness and mindfulness and mindset of ourselves, right. Giving your children the opportunity to journal is a great way to help with that to help them calm their mind before bed, sending them to bed with a specific action or task can also be helpful, so that they complete the story in their mind both going into bed and in their dreams. And when you wake them up in the morning, or they wake up, you ask them to complete that cycle. So if you tell them, hey, I want you to dream about all the rides, we’re going to go on at the boardwalk this weekend. And then when they wake up in the morning, you say, tell me about right what what rides we’re going to go on. That way it complete completes the cycle. And you make sure that you’re telling your child that it’s important what they’re thinking about, but you’re also sending them to bed with more of a positive psyche, versus laying there thinking about something negative or unfortunate that may be bothering their mind. Sleep regressions are a challenge there is going to be developmental sleep regressions that happen. And you don’t want those to derail your sleep into weeks, months and even years. So when you feel like something may be changing asleep regression may be coming on the first thing I’m going to advise you to do is look at your timing. Make sure that your timing is set up for success because your timing changes as your child grows. As a sleep consultant,
it’s important that you work with someone who is a professional, whether it’s joining my Facebook community, working with someone through a preliminary discovery call are really just trying to get education, not even that you have to pay for to just make sure you’re on the right track. A lot of times I see Facebook groups where there is terrible advice given to parents, frankly, I see apps that are out there on the marketplace today that have grossly inaccurate, awake times. So make sure that when you’re trying to assess your child’s day you’re looking at whether or not they have the right balance, are they getting the right amount of sleep at the right time and settling in the right way as the skill of sleep strengthens any props or behavior over the course of time is going to lessen. Now some parents call me and say Courtney, I go back to work on Monday fix this in a weekend. Great I will just a little more aggressive. I have other clients that say look, I’m super sensitive to any aspect of tears. So let’s do this as gently as effectively as possible. Great pet just takes a little longer both are accomplishing the same thing. A child recognizes they have this skill, then the habits go away and the boundary is set. You are not welcome in my bed. I am not rocking you to sleep. You are not nursing to sleep. And you can offer your child comfort in other ways that you, as a parent are comfortable with. A lot of times people think that sleep consultants just tell you cry it out. And that’s your only option. And it’s not. There are gentle and effective ways that you can transform your child’s sleep. And you can do it starting today. If you’re not in my facebook group called slumber Made Simple, I encourage you to jump out there. I’m live every single week at 130 East Coast standard for a q&a where I answer all of your sleep questions. And then every week put out a ton of content and information across the various platforms that I have to make sure that you’re set up for sleep success. So hopefully you found this to be helpful, all about sleep progressions and making sure that you stick to your boundaries and help your child to get the best sleep of their life.