When you are a new parent, your sleep schedule depends pretty much on when your baby decides to take a nap. Most new parents have heard all about the horrors and myths surrounding sleep regression, especially once their baby turns ten months old. But there are plenty of ways to tackle this problem with ease, and ensure that both you and your baby get a peaceful night’s sleep!
What is 10-Month Sleep Regression
Sleep regression is a phase your baby may go through, where your baby who was earlier sleeping soundly has suddenly begun to have trouble sleeping. This is usually the result of an obvious cause, such as illness or discomfort.
Your baby could be struggling to fall asleep because of changes in terms of growth and development that could leave your baby unable to sleep. There is no particular timeline that sleep regression follows but often parents have a ten-month dip in the sleep schedule of their babies, which can prove to be detrimental to their overall development.
Sleep regression can also happen as early as eight to ten months of age, or even much later down the road. Signs of sleep regression include struggling to fall asleep and even waking up more often throughout the night.
What Causes Sleep Regression
1. Developmental Milestones
The most common cause of sleep regression is the fact that your baby is growing and changing, and has hit a significant developmental milestone. Significant developmental changes like a growth spurt or mental development can have a significant effect on the sleep schedule of your baby. This is a good thing! It’s a sign that your baby is evolving physically and mentally, and is adapting to a new environment.
2. Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety also plays a huge role in determining the sleep schedule of your baby. It occurs at various times during the first two years of your baby’s life. Separation anxiety causes a baby to be paranoid about the parent leaving the room because they are fearful that they might not come back.
This fear fades away as the child is introduced to concepts of object permanence. All your baby needs is the confirmation and reassurance that you will return to them after leaving the room. This anxiety can cause your baby to experience stress and uneasiness and as a result, prevent a sound sleep at night.
Teething is another cause of sleep regression. Teething can be an uneasy and painful process for some babies. It contributes largely to a child’s discomfort, and the pain in their gums is even heightened further when the baby is trying to sleep and doesn’t have any distractions. If your baby is chewing and drooling a lot, his or her gums are red and they go on incessant crying sprees- the messed up sleep schedule is a result of teething.
Sleep regression is often caused as a side effect of the baby being sick. It doesn’t need to be a major problem, and can just be a result of a common cold or cough. The illness will resolve itself, and so will your child’s sleeping pattern. In case the new sleep associations linger long after the illness has subsided, it may be best to consult your pediatrician or a sleep expert. They can suggest specific methods depending on your baby, that you can implement to get your baby’s sleep schedule back on track.
How Long Does Sleep Regression Last?
If the sleepless nights are causing you stress, don’t worry because sleep regression is temporary. A baby’s sleep regression usually lasts for about a few weeks- anywhere between two to four weeks. Over this period, they usually get used to the new milestone, new routine, or recover from the illness- whichever has been the cause of their sleep regression. The exact time can vary and depends on the adaptation and recovery duration of your baby.
How to Deal with 10-Month Sleep Regression
1. Check for Illness
One of the major causes of sleep regression is an illness. Checking for any underlying issue like reflux, illness, allergy, or sickness should be the first step towards tackling sleep regression. Any of these could be causing your baby discomfort and affecting his or her sleep schedule. Other developmental milestones like teething can also result in sleep regression. So, it’s important to rule out such possibilities when it comes to trying to identify the cause.
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2. Be Patient
Remember this phase is temporary and your baby will only go through this phase once. Try to help your baby to the best of your capacity because besides being a tiring process for you, it is an extremely uncomfortable phase for your baby. Even though you can’t get rid of your baby’s discomfort, you can be there for your infant in terms of support and comfort.
Think of this phase as a puzzle your baby’s solving. You shouldn’t solve it for your baby, because that way your child won’t learn but when he or she hits a roadblock you must be there to give a reassuring nudge in the right direction.
3. Stick to a Routine
The common mistake most parents make is trying out too many different techniques and tricks. However tempting it may be to try out different methods to get your baby’s sleep schedule back on track, it’s highly recommended to avoid doing that. Instead, formulate one routine, and try to stick to that.
Options include encouraging self-soothing, minimizing activity as bedtime nears, or creating bedtime habits like reading a book or giving your baby a warm shower. Instead of rushing to console your baby at the first sight of a cry, allow them to sit in the crib and give them a reassuring back rub.
4. Try the Ferber Method
The “Ferber method” is a popular sleep training technique that is also known as the “cry it out method.” It’s a technique that is based on graduated extinction which means, it teaches your baby to self-soothe. This way if your baby wakes up crying during the night, he or she can fall back asleep on their own.
There are no long-term effects to this method, but it does require parents to have the ability to endure their baby’s crying and have the willingness to stick to the plan. If you decide to opt for the Ferber method, it will require you to respond to your baby only briefly for progressively longer intervals.
Make sure that during these breaks you are only checking in and not soothing or consoling your baby. If this method is not your cup of tea, don’t worry- other solutions don’t require such a hard-line approach!
5. Maintain a Good Environment
A good sleep environment is essential for sound sleep. Establish a calming bedtime routine, that is consistent and regular. You can set aside a few minutes before bedtime to read to your baby, shower her or sing a lullaby. This way your child will draw associations between those activities and sleeping. Ensure that the baby’s bed is comfortable and the room is dim and cool. Once the baby is comfortable, it’ll be easy for him or her to fall asleep.
6. Give them their Favorite Item
You can make use of a sentimental item or a favorite toy that they may be attached to. Giving them a blanket that has your signature scent on it, or a toy that provides them with comfort can help them fall asleep easier. The comfort provided by a familiar item helps soothe your baby. Eventually, your child will also build an association between the item and sleep, which can be helpful in the long run.
7. Get Medical Advice
The average duration for your baby’s sleep regression to settle down is two to four weeks. However, it is common for it to extend up to the fifth or sixth week. Past the sixth week, it may become important to get medical advice regarding the issue. You can consult your pediatrician to rule out any underlying issues that can be affecting your infant’s sleep.
You can also consult a sleep consultant who will offer personalized methods depending on your baby’s difficulty. With expert help, you can monitor these issues and take the specific measures that may be needed.
Your ten-month-old should be getting about a total of 12 to 16 hours of sleep per day! This can be broken down into about 9 to 12 hours of sleep during the night, and naps ranging from 2 to 4 hours during the day- usually during the latter half of the morning and mid-afternoon.
Sleep regressions can be a pain for parents and disrupt their normal sleep hours. Provide your baby with all possible adjustments during this time. As much discomfort as this is causing you, it is twice as uncomfortable for your baby. Keep in mind, this phase is temporary. Establishing regular short-term sleep methods will help you attain long-term sleep success!