Managing Through Common Sleep Challenges the First Year
Have you ever heard a fellow mom say something along the lines of, “Ugh! We’re going through the typical nine month sleep regression.” Or, “Apparently my baby is done with naps, and he’s only 1!” Or maybe you’ve said it yourself. We’ve been there too, feeling like just as you get a good sleep routine going, things change.
We are believers in the parenting approach of ‘everything’s a phase,’ which cuts both ways – teething isn’t forever, but neither are the squishy, kissable infant arm rolls. When it comes to sleep schedules, they change throughout a baby’s first year, but one basic principle applies: stick to a routine. That routine may call for minor adjustments every few months, but babies thrive on predictability. At Indy Night Nanny, we coach our clients on not letting each new phase or milestone derail the sleep routine progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve together.
Here are a few common phases and milestones when we see parents struggle to stick to the routine, and our recommendations for getting through it with sleep schedules intact.
In short, don’t get distracted by teething. Of course it’s natural to want to comfort our babies when they’re in pain. Address your baby’s discomfort, but don’t let it derail all of your sleep progress. Your baby shouldn’t regress into night feedings or prolonged night wakings because of normal teething. With the hundreds of families we’ve worked with, we’ve seen it time and time again that when consistent, effective sleep routines are established early on and stuck with when that first tooth breaks through, everyone can continue to get quality, restful sleep.
“9 Month Sleep Regression”
This common reference may actually be due to the fact that your baby is more alert, mobile, and curious now and needs extended wind-down time before naps and bedtime. With their brains and bodies working in overdrive during this milestone-filled phase, they may just need sufficient time to calm their energy and settle in for restful sleep. You can keep your sleep routine activities the same, but add more time for calming down, like reading additional books for example.
Fear of the Dark
We’re speaking of the parents here. We fear all the monsters under the bed stories too, but your baby likely doesn’t yet. Don’t give in to the idea of brightening the room so they don’t become scared. Continue to keep the room very dark. Your baby needs to continue to have this dark sleep environment for optimal rest. We love black-out shades for your nursery and glow-in-the-dark pacifiers when needed.
1 Year Old Opinions
Approaching the first birthday, your baby likely has quite the personality now, with new energy and opinions. Sometimes sleep can be on the list of things to protest and test boundaries. Continue with your consistency and routine and don’t get distracted by some fussing and crying. You’re not making your child cry. Remember, your goal is a well-rested, happy child. Routines are much easier to establish with an infant than a toddler, so stick with it! And make sure you build in enough connection and affection time during the awake hours to fill your baby’s emotional tank and help them feel safe and secure to fall asleep.
And finally, remember that an overtired baby will not settle as quickly or stay asleep as easily, so watch the clock but also your baby. The bedtime routine should begin before they show super sleepy cues.
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