Updated: Oct 18, 2021
I think I made it pretty clear on my "truth about sleep regressions post", just how it frustrates me that so many people label this phase a 'regression', just like the 4-month, 12-month & 18-month progressions.
I cannot state it enough, that these stages are progressions & because there is so much going on at the same time for our babies, sleep can be affected, but not always.
I don't want parents living in fear, waiting for these dreaded stages, because the truth is, some babies sale through it without being phased at all, others will be out of sorts for a short period & for some, it changes the whole situation for a prolonged period.
You can feel like you just got over a really hard sleep phase & now you're straight into another. I am going to help you feel informed & empowered to support your little one through this next bumpy phase.
This is such a common age for enquiries, this is partly because there is a perception that by 6-months, all babies should be able to sleep through the night. Research has indicated that most babies of 6-12 months, wake 1-2 times per night, (Hysing et al, 2014).
"I grant you the gft of releasing this expectation & worry!"
Here's the story...
Here are some of the signs that your little one will show:
Needs you more
Doesn't want to nap
Wakes more at night
Wakes upset after shorter nap
Here is only some of what is going on:
May be time to drop another nap
More purposeful play
I want you to take a breath & be ressured that your little one has not lost the "skill" of sleeping, because it is not a "skill", it is a normal biological function that cannot be learned or un-learned.
They are dealing with so much else & really need your reassurance & support during this time. They are finding things that weren't so bad before, like sleep, environmental things, you going to the loo, people, & other things a lot more difficult to handle.
Agh... Where did you go? Come back!!! Sound familiar, without the actual words?
Separation anxiety is a big factor at this age. Your little one has gone from not being too bothered if you potter around, to demanding you stay near them. This is completely normal around this age becasue they have developed the understanding that when you leave the room, you still exist & they worry about whether you will come back.
You'll have a little visitor with you in the loo for a while, if you didn't already because it truly is more helpful to be there through this phase, keep them near you & support them as they need, it will pass quicker by doing this.
If this comes at a time when you're returning to work, it can be a tricky time for parents to navigate & if they find it hard being away from you in the day, of course going away from you, alone at night is going to be difficult too. (Get the floor bed out & go with it)
There are things you can do to help:
Games to play... (main aim is helping them trust & realise that you always come back)
Peekaboo - Hide behind the pillow for a second, then something further away for a second & peek a boo out, longer each time, as tyour little one is tolerating.
Lift the flap books - Great for helping your little one to understand that things come back.
Hiding toys under things - Keep going at this until they really get the hang of the fact that if they lift the object, the item is underneath & not gone forever.
Bye bye game - Play a pretend leaving game to practice leaving, at a time when you are not actually going anywhere to build trust. Start for only a few seconds & build up to a few minutes.
Time to drop another nap
Frustrating I know, is there not enough goin on without this too...
Your little one will drop their afternoon nap around this age.
When you are dropping the nap, approach it gradually, decreasing the time until around 10 minutes & then drop it when they are ready. The time your child is ready to drop naps is variable for each child. You will have an idea when they start to resist the last nap or it starts to bring on resistance at bed-time.
When you drop this nap, you may need to bring bed-time earlier for a period until your baby adjusts. This will reduce the pressure of tiredness leading up to bed-time because if you leave bed-time as it was, with a big gap, this may lead to bed-time battles or waking in the night & early rising. You can gradually move bed-time back to the original time a little bit at a time, as your child's tolerance for being awake increases or the 2nd nap is a little longer.
I always say, it's ok to have a 30 minute window with bed-time on a daily basis, depending on tiredness & how the day went, this shouldn't cause any disruption. If your little one needs an earlier bed-time, you're just topping up & if it runs a little later, depending on the day, that's ok too. Your main aim is not to let them get too tired to fall asleep comfortably.
Little tips for you...
Try to look after yourself through this phase - if you practice self care, you can be in a better place to help your little one through this phase. Find what calms you & squeeze it into your day, practice deep breaths, play your favourite song & dance, whatever works. Take help where you can & ask for help where you can (washing, dinners. etc.).
If naps are a mess, move bed-time & try not to get hung up on it. If you're trying & the nap is not happening, stop, play for a little while, & try again when your both in a calmer state.
There is already so much going on here, so try to keep consistent & not make any avoidable changes. (room move, soother drop, etc.)
Support them as much as they need, if you need to sleep on a floor bed in their room, that's ok, if you need to change where or how they sleep for a hiwle, that's ok. You can gradually get back to before, when your little one comes through this phase. Remember, the more we resist during these phases, the longer they last. Be supportive, stay with them if they need you, do things to build their trust & go easy on yourself, this will help them through this busy phase of development.
I say this to all my clients with babies of this age, "always say goodbye", & if you can, make it as predictable as bed-time. Hug, kiss, phrase ("love you"), whatever works for you but if you can make it predicatble, it will be easier for them to accept. I know it's sometimes easier to sneak out & avoid the drama, but folks, this really helps the overall trust & even if there's a few tears here & there, if you make it predictable, it will get easier because they will know they can trust what you say.
If you dissapear one day without a goodbye, & another day say goodbye, they don't know when to trust you so they may resist you being away from them more than if you are honest & always tell them when you are leaving.
As always, feel free to make contact with me if you feel that your situation is unsustainable or you want to reassure yourself & feel empowered to change how you view sleep with your family. Book your free 20-minute call or follow my Instagram & Facebook page for useful tips & advice, all based around my holistic, evidence-based, family centred style of sleep support.