Why has my baby stopped sleeping?
This subject is one that is close to my heart. With our first born Oliver, we never had to worry about this because there was no such thing as “stopped sleeping” as he never started. However, our little sleeper Ruby slept through as a newborn, but now she wakes 2-3 times a night as a 5 month old. Does this sound familiar? Read on to find out why.
You maybe reading this thinking, but she is a sleep coach why is her baby not sleeping through the night. The truth is you cannot expect a 5 month old baby to sleep through, we were just very lucky she slept so well as a newborn.
There are so many reasons as to why your baby is no longer sleeping through, far too many to discuss in this article but I am sharing with you the two most common reasons why your baby has stopped sleeping.
I have two words for you, sleep regression!
A sleep regression is when your baby’s sleep quality temporarily decreases, this can be seen as resisting bed or nap time, early rising and frequent night wakings.
This usually takes place in relation to your baby gaining new skills and reaching important milestones such as rolling, sitting, crawling and walking. Your baby loves practicing his new skills whilst sleeping.
Although sleep regressions affect the first few years of childhood, this article focuses on two of the main sleep regressions that affect your baby from birth until they are 1.
4 month sleep regression
If you had a good sleeper until 3-4 months of age, then this is more than likely due to the 4 month sleep regression. This takes place for two main reasons. Firstly, your baby’s sleep cycles have matured from newborn sleep cycles to adult ones. As an adult, you cycle through sleep stages 1, 2, 3, 4 and then REM sleep (associated with dreaming), these 5 stages are known as a sleep cycle.
Throughout the night you journey through many sleep cycles, and when you “finish” REM sleep you transition back to sleep stage 1. During this transition you temporarily wake but are usually unaware of this, as you have learnt to progress through the rest of the sleep cycle.
However, when your baby transitions from newborn sleep cycles to adult ones, they do not know how to transition from one sleep cycle to another. Therefore, they wake at the end of the sleep cycle not knowing how to go back to sleep. Hello, upset and awake baby every 1.5-2 hours!
The second reason is that most babies learn to roll at this age. The problem with your baby rolling when they are asleep is, initially they don’t know how to roll back onto their backs meaning they wake unsettled and unable to go back to sleep.
8 month sleep regression
As if that isn’t challenging enough, your baby will probably experience a sleep regression from around 8 months too. Perhaps your baby’s sleep resettled after the four month sleep regression and now it feels like their sleep is terrible again.
Here are the main reasons this one takes place:
Developmental Milestones (Notice a theme here?)
This is a very busy time for your baby. He or she maybe learning to crawl or pulling to stand, as well as gaining the pincer grasp and new teeth! Their learning and development are taking place at such a rate now, it is no wonder that their sleep is affected.
At 8 months your baby now understands that you still exist even if they cannot see you. This newfound distance from you can be very overwhelming for your baby, as prior to this they thought they were part of you. This means at night, your baby suddenly needs more reassurance from you, as they now understand you are not there.
Lastly, now is the time that your baby technically needs less sleep. “What, less sleep?”, I hear you say. What I mean by this is, in a textbook situation prior to 8 month’s your baby’s daily recommended sleep requirements are 11-12 hours a night and around 3.5-4 hours per day depending on their age.
However, from 8 months this decreases to 3-3.5 hours a day until around the age of 15-18 months. This is the optimum daily sleep to promote good night time sleep (less night wakings), yes the better quality sleep your baby has during the day, the better their sleep becomes at night and vice versa.
Don’t worry if your baby is sleeping considerably less than this, with some hard work and support you can get their sleep right back on track, so you can feel full of life and energy again.
There you have it, there are two main reasons why your baby has stopped sleeping during the first year of their life. If you feel you have never really come out of the sleep regression and without a doubt you need better sleep right now, then book your discovery session here.