Do you have that child that was the perfect sleeper and then all of a sudden, they started getting up for no reason in the middle of the night? Nothing can be more frustrating! Unless, I guess, you have had a child that has never slept well!
Many people wonder what is going on and when things will get back to normal! As you google for answers, you have probably run across the terms leaps and sleep regression which provides some answers to this new change in behavior. Theorists and researchers have written books about when these leaps will occur and what to expect.
One author is Dr. Brazelton who wrote Touchpoints from birth to 3 and 3-6 in 1992. Another is the common The Wonder Weeks, written by Frans X. Plooij and Hetty van de Rijt, also written in 1992, but republished in 2019.
The theory behind these books and applications is that all children develop in a predictable manner and because of that, it can be documented so parents know what to expect. When a child does go through a regression, you may see more crabbiness, different eating habits or change in nap and sleep patterns. Then typically there is a newly acquired skill the child learns – the leap. Unfortunately, a regression can last two to four weeks which can feel like forever. The leaps can be physical like a growth spurt making them hungrier at night, learning to sit up and wanting to practice, teething, or a cognitive growth like learning they are separate from you.
I have had some parents that have told me their child followed every leap documented and others who have said that their child never followed the leaps and it was not helpful.
The best way to combat sleep regression is to start early with understanding your child’s sleep cues and developing a consistent routine that allows your child to fall asleep on their own in their sleep space. You can read more helpful details regarding healthy sleep habits in the Keys to Peaceful Sleep download.
The challenge is that while much of development (especially in the first year) does happen in a fairly sequential manner, every child is still going to develop on their own timeframe. Some walk at 10 months and others at 18 months. This is all considered ‘normal’!
I am a believer in understanding child development but as the parent, it is important to remind yourself that your child has their own unique timeline – different from their sibling, cousins, or neighbors. There is little you can do to make them clap, walk, or talk sooner than when they are ready.
If you are a parent who would like answers for every change in your child’s behavior, then the books may be helpful in letting you know what is coming. What you will find is that there is a leap pretty much every month up to age 18 months! Having been one of those parents that like answers to the changes, I really encourage you to ride out the regressions, enjoy the leaps and adopt the phrase, “this too shall pass!”
Being a parent means letting go of control and the earlier you learn that in your child’s life, the better your relationship will be. You are there to love, guide, and keep them safe to the best of your ability, allowing them to become their own amazing gift to the world.
If you are struggling with helping your child learn to self-soothe or not sure how to put healthy routines into place, please reach out for a free 20-minute conversation. I am here to walk with you on this windy road called parenting!