Handling Regressions in Your Child’s Sleep Habits0

The relief that we feel when our little ones finally start sleeping through the night overwhelming for a lot of us. That’s why it’s so frustrating when, suddenly, they start regressing into their old habits again, and waking up in a fit several times a night.

Take heart. Regressions are common in sleep training, and I’m here today to share some tips about how to handle it, and get through it as quickly as possible, so you and baby can get back to those blissful, sleep filled nights.

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Hi, I’m Dana. Welcome to this week’s video. I’ve been noticing a lot of comments on the Facebook page lately about situations where a baby was doing really well with the Sleep Sense Program, but now after a few months, you’ve hit a bit of a roadblock, or a snag, or a regression. We’re going to talk today about what to do when those situations occur. There was somebody on there that said, “Hey, what is going on here? My baby’s not sleeping as well anymore. I thought this was a one and done situation.” I have to tell you, and I’m the bearer of some bad news here, but nothing in parenting is one and done. It just isn’t. You teach your child some rules, you’re going to have to constantly remind him of those rules, teach them those rules, consequence them for not following those rules, and that’s going to be for life.

I’m sorry to tell you, but children are just going to be natural boundary pushers, and they’re going to test you periodically to just make sure, “Hey, just because it’s a rule today, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a rule a week from now.” They’re going to just test you, and make sure that, “Yep, it’s still the rule,” and then they’re going to go back to the correct behavior. It can just be a matter of what I call testing the waters. That might be you’ve had smooth sailing with sleep for a few months, and then for no other reason, at bedtime tonight, she protests for 20 minutes. The problem is that it’s alarming for you, right? You’re thinking, “What’s wrong? Is she sick? Is she teething? Is she scared? What’s going on in there?”

You start to second guess yourself and her, and it’s easy to start intervening. Going in, giving her lots of attention, having cuddles, and a few nights of that, she will figure out very quickly that protest equals change, right? Protest equals reaction, and she may start back stepping into more and more protest, because it’s getting rewarded in certain ways. You really want to be careful. Definitely make sure that she isn’t actually sick, or that something’s not going on, and if you see a tooth cutting the gum, then maybe that’s why she’s having a little bit of trouble tonight, and you can assist with whatever kind of pain relief you might offer a teething baby, but other than that, you don’t want to do too much different. You want to just make sure, check on her periodically, remind her that it’s sleepy time, and let this ride out. The good news is that it’ll only take a night or two, and she’ll go, “Okay. Rules are still rules. The expectations are still the same. I’m going to back to being a great sleeper again.”

You’ll have a few months, and then all of the sudden out of the blue, she’s going to do it again. It tends to often occur around a developmental milestone. If she learns to sit up, or is crawling, or learning to stand, or walk, you’ll often find that there’s a bit of a sleep regression around those situations, as well. Same thing though. We’re not going to change much, but what we do in response, because we don’t want to inevitably reward behaviors that we don’t want, so we’re going to be really careful and cautious about that. Now sometimes a baby just back steps into old habits for no real reason, and what do you do if you’ve walked into that situation, and now you need to get out? That would be protest for a couple nights, or random nighttime wake ups, that can occur, too, and you’re thinking, “I don’t know. Is he maybe hungry? Growing through a growth spurt?” You don’t know, so maybe you’ve gone in and offered a feed.

After a few nights of this, now it’s a habit again, and six months later, you’re back to nighttime feeding. That can happen, too. I get it, and there’s no blame or judgment around that. I totally understand how it happens. I’ve seen it countless times. The good news is you know this baby can sleep well. She’s proven to you that she has the skills to do this, so if you’ve back stepped yourself into a bit of a situation, just get back on the plan, right? Dust off your copy of the Sleep Sense Program, and start it again. I would suggest you speed it up though, because she has the skills. We’re not starting from ground zero here, so if you’re doing the stay in the room method, you would just do two nights, two nights, two nights, and out you go, or go back into a leave and check situation. Either is going to work just fine, but that’s all you can do.

You’re just going to have to start again, and know that there’s going to be some protest again around this, because she’s had it one way for X number of weeks or months, and you’re going to have to remind her that, “Nope. We’re going to do it that way again. Here we go.” Know that you’ll get through it, and within a few days, she’s going to be back to her great sleeping self. All right. That’s my advice. You’re going to have it. It’s going to happen. Just hold on tight to your expectations. Hold on tight to your boundaries. I promise you, it will blow over. Thanks for watching today. Sleep well.


If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!

The post Handling Regressions in Your Child’s Sleep Habits appeared first on The Sleep Sense Program by Dana Obleman.

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