I’ll start with a disclaimer: I’m no expert.
Previous sleep regressions seem to have passed us by without too much drama. Of course, we’ve had the odd bad night, but overall the boy has been pretty good at sleeping from quite early on. Maybe that’s why the past two weeks have come as such a shock.
Two weeks ago the boy had a nasty ear infection. Two nights in a row he woke crying at 3:30am and didn’t go back to sleep until after 5am. He was just awake. Every time I left the room, he screamed. Every time I was in the room, he started laughing and playing. It was frustrating, but I put it down to him not being well. Now, I wonder if it was the start of this sleep regression.
The past three nights in a row, the boy has napped and gone down at bed time as normal, perhaps even better than he has for the past month or so. That’s when it all goes wrong.
I feel like I have a newborn again. He wakes crying every 2 – 3 hours. We go in to settle him, and for a few seconds it works, but then he opens his eyes again and won’t go back to sleep until he is fed. If we leave the room he just screams. Sometimes he screams when we’re in the room. So we feed him and he goes back to sleep, then two or three hours later we start the process again.
As I said, I’m no expert, but here are a few ways I’m getting through it:
- Sharing the load. Up until now I’ve taken on the majority of nighttime wakings, but now I’m learning to say “yes” when help is offered. We’re lucky that Husband much prefers doing the earlier wake ups, whereas I function better after a few hour’s sleep, so he does any before 2am and I do after.
- Rest when you can. I’m lucky that the boy is mainly still napping well during the day, so when he does I get any urgent jobs done quickly then have a rest for a while. Whether that’s bingeing on Netflix, having something to eat, or just sitting quietly, it’s time that I’m not running around after a small child.
- Don’t blame yourself. At first I was wondering what I did wrong. Did I let him nap too late/long? Did I not feed him enough during the day? Am I just failing at parenting? Then I asked some other Mums and found they had all had the same problems around the same age. Sometimes babies just don’t sleep well, it’s not your fault!
- Get out of the house. Some days I feel like I might go insane after very little sleep and moving the boy away from the TV stand for the hundredth time in the past hour. I find, no matter how tired I am, putting him in the pushchair and going for a walk for an hour saves my sanity and actually makes me feel better. Sometimes it’s just nice to be reminded there’s a world outside.
- Look after yourself. It’s easy to overlook your own wellbeing when you’re exhausted and looking after a small child. Make sure you’re eating well, staying hydrated, and try to find time to do something for yourself each day.
I realise there’s no groundbreaking advice there, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the basics, and just knowing other people are in the same boat and don’t have a miracle quick-fix either can make us feel better.
I take my hat off to parents with a perpetual bad sleeper or who are also going through a sleep regression. You deserve a medal. Or maybe just a good night’s sleep!