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My baby's sleep has regressed terribly. Her sleep was getting better in the first few
months, but then, all of a sudden, she's awake every two hours at night. What do I
There's nothing more crazy-making than when an older baby
thinks she's a newborn again. The first thing to know is that it's normal—no
one told babies they were supposed to start sleeping and never go back to
waking again at night.
There are lots of causes, but the most common is a
developmental milestone. That means a new motor skill, like rolling, pushing to
hands and knees, standing or sitting. Even more common is when a new cognitive skill comes online and makes
sleep regress. A more aware, conscious little being has an active mind at
night, is excited to think and practice and is more likely to get hooked on a
soothing habit, like having a paci reinserted, rocking or bouncing to sleep.
The key to weathering a sleep regression is to help your
baby. But try to avoid the common pitfalls, like adding in feedings at night (in
a baby beyond 5 to 6 months old, where they didn't exist before) or resorting
to rocking baby back into a deep sleep again. Try to soothe your baby by the
least intrusive means possible (readers of "The
Happy Sleeper" know this technique as "The Soothing Ladder") and put her
back in awake.
Just try it. If it doesn't work, you can do more and work your
way to the "big guns," which is usually feeding.
Do a quick check of these elements too: baby's bedtime could
be too late (past 8 p.m. might lead to a restless night); temperature too
hot (65 to 68 degrees is the recommendation); or baby is over-dressed. Any of these factors might lead to more wake-ups.