When your baby learns a new skill, it is initially very exciting! Then reality hits, your baby may start to have disrupted sleep or goes through what is commonly referred to as a sleep regression.
As your baby starts to learn a new skill, e.g. rolling, crawling or walking they may become frustrated when they get stuck. Sometimes sleep disruptions can come because a new skill is a challenge in some way. Other times, your baby is just so excited about their new skill that they want to keep practicing during naps. New skills that disrupt sleep aren’t just gross motor skills, either. They can be something as simple as babbling.
It is important to give your baby plenty of time to practice their new skills (rolling, sitting, crawling) during the day! Try to avoid using prams/highchairs/walkers for long lengths of time when at home. Mat time is super important for development! Many babies go through sleep regressions at some point as they develop their new skill. Rest assured your baby is normal and will get past this hurdle. Your baby will go back to sleeping as usual. However, it is important that you don’t reinforce any new habits you don’t want to continue!
Here are a few tips to get over those sleepless nights:
While it is normal and even inevitable, there are things you can do to help speed up your baby getting past this disruption.
1. Wear Out the Novelty
Allow your baby plenty of opportunities to practice this skill in the day during waketime. If your baby is obsessed with rolling, make sure he gets plenty of time to roll during playtime during the day. Make it your first priority. Once your baby is accustomed to this new skill, they won’t feel such a driving need to continue this practice during nap time.
2. Give Practice Time
There are things you can do to help encourage your baby to figure out how to do certain skills. To get baby to roll over, put a toy just out of reach. To get baby to roll from tummy to back, arc a toy from the ground over baby’s head slowly so baby will follow it his head is heavy and will help propel him over.
3. Give it Time and Be Patient
In this practice, you are also helping the baby to build the muscle needed to do the skill. Your baby needs to build muscles just like we do, in order to do physical things. Babies seem to do so much faster than we do. And keep in mind, the length of time you need to be patient will vary a lot.
4. Get back on track
If sleep does go wayside get back on track ASAP don’t keep putting it off, there really is no reason sleep shouldn’t stay or get back on track.
There are some things to avoid so you don’t fall into a trap of “accidental parenting”. Avoid starting doing something you do not want to continue long-term.
Do Not Stress
Remember, this is normal. I know it can be stressful when your baby isn’t sleeping. Do the first steps I have listed above, and then try not to stress about how your baby is taking a long time to fall asleep.
Do Not Turn This Into a Social Hour
When you do need to go in to help out, don’t turn it into a social call. Avoid talking and just gently help baby to get back to sleep and then leave the room again. Sometimes your baby will cry when you walk out. No surprise! You have just walked in and left again without taking him with you. But he needs to sleep..
Do Not Intervene More Than Needed
Yes, you can help as needed, but don’t jump in there more often than needed or sooner than needed. Give baby some time to figure it out on his own before you “rescue.” The day will come when your baby can do it alone, it is important to give them that chance to develop that skill.
Do Not Ignore Other Possible Culprits for Poor Sleep
Most of the time, these disruptions are happening simply because of a new skill. However, sometimes, you have something else contributing to the sleep disruption. Sometimes your baby will be old enough and ready to stay awake longer or drop a nap. Be mindful of your babies awake windows.
If you are still not seeing any changes with your babies sleep, I am here to help! We can formulate together a personalised plan so that you feel knowledgable and supported in the ways to assist your baby through this change. Request a free call today to discuss your options.