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To Say That a Baby Has Sleep Regression Is Misleading, Says This Expert
  • You and your baby have become used to a sleep routine. Your little one is falling asleep better or faster and has been clocking good hours of shut-eye especially at night. Then suddenly, everything good about your baby's sleep turns sour. It seems she's going through what some experts call sleep regression

    A baby who has been sleeping well starts to wake more than usual or finds it hard to settle down gets the sleep regression label often. The term ‘regression,’ however, may not be accurate. For baby sleep coach Gabrielle Weil, it is in fact misleading. "A regression implies going backward yet these moments are about moving forward [for your baby]," she tells SmartParenting.com.ph.

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    Babies go through sleep disruptions until age 2

    A baby who is already sleeping well and then have difficulty sleeping and staying asleep may appear like it's a developmental setback. According to Weil, sleep disruptions are to be expected because your baby is growing.

    "Babies at 4 months will have their first developmental leap," Weil explained. These babies will begin to sleep differently from the way they did when they were newborns. "What you teach at this stage — both good and bad — are what form the foundations of your baby’s sleep habits for life," she wrote in an article for Smart Parenting.

    Between 8 months and 1 year, babies are learning and developing new skills such as crawling and walking. These are exciting times and can affect how he sleeps. "If you were making progress with his sleep training before, continue with it as long as it's comfortable for both you and your baby. It has to feel supportive," Weil stressed.


    Sleep disruption happens at set moments during the first two years of a child's life, and some will be harder to deal with than others.

    Then, you may notice sleep disruption in your child again at 15 to 18 months. Your child is at the stage where he wants to be independent, so he's testing his boundaries constantly. But he may also be experiencing separation anxiety. "If you have waited until now to help your toddler learn how to put themselves to sleep, it is vital for you to expect the training period to take longer," Weil shared.

    But these sleep disruptions can also go unnoticed. "My personal experience, for instance, is that I never noticed my son’s sleep affected negatively at his 4th, 8th to 10th, 12th or 15th to 18th months of age despite knowing how to fall asleep and stay asleep without my help from 10 weeks of age," Weil shared.

    Should you sleep-train your baby or toddler again?

    Weil shared that other possible reasons behind sleep disruptions could be a change in the baby's environment, routine, or family dynamics.

    "These moments are times where awareness is heightened and where our babies need us more emotionally," Weil stressed, adding she was the one who adjusted to her son's needs and did not force him to "do" something. "It’s up to the adults to help their little one through the development accordingly without forcing sleep," she added.

    Babies are quick learners, and the most ideal time to introduce sleep skills is between 2 to 4 months. But while sleep training your baby again after a 'regression,' say at 8 months, can get him back on track and sleeping well again, Weil does not recommend it. "A more long-term success plan would be to simply not introduce any changes or new sleep lessons or skills at these moments," she said.

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    So what can you do? Just be there and offer comfort as your child goes through the transition. And don't waver in being consistent because next thing you know you're off to a new phase.

    You may reach baby sleep coach Gabrielle Weil via Facebook (@BabySleepPH), Instagram (@babysleep.ph), or email at BabesofBliss@gmail.com.

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