What sleep regressions occur in the first year of life?
Has your baby actually slept well since it was born? You already thought that baby sleep wouldn't be an issue for you? But after four months everything was different? Maybe your baby is a little older and is just discovering his motor skills? Does he prefer to sit in bed or pull himself up on the bars at night instead of sleeping?
In the first year of life, one developmental leap follows the next. Especially around the 4th, 8th and 12th months of life, these phases can be so intense that the little ones' sleep becomes restless. If the changes occur suddenly and last for several weeks, it is probably due to sleep regression.
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1. What happens during the 4-month regression?
The newborn period ends at the end of the 3rd month of life. Your baby can now see as far as you, recognize faces, perceive language and experiment with his first sounds. So a lot is happening cognitively with your baby. Your baby is also making great progress in his motor skills and is beginning to grasp and turn. The oral phase also begins, when your baby explores everything with his mouth and tongue. Your baby is more active overall and is much more aware of its surroundings. Many babies find it far too exciting to drink or sleep during this time.
Between the 3rd and 5th months of life, your baby's sleep cycle develops into the sleep cycle that we adults have. This development can continue into the 6th month of life. The new sleep cycle consists of five sleep phases with light and deep sleep phases. Specifically, your baby develops a sleep cycle consisting of REM and non-REM sleep phases.
The sleep cycle starts with a REM phase. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement and is so called because the movement of the eyes in adults can be observed while they are closed during this sleep phase. Babies' entire bodies can move during this sleep phase. Some babies also make noises or even open their eyes even though they are sleeping.
After REM sleep, your baby slides into the non-REM sleep phases. Non-REM sleep consists of different sleep depth phases. The first two deep sleep phases of non-REM sleep are light sleep phases. If you try to put your baby down during the first stage, he or she will probably wake up. Phases 3 and 4 of non-REM sleep are the deep sleep phases that your baby goes through, especially in the first third of the night. This is where regenerative deep sleep takes place.
Once your baby has gone through all the sleep phases of REM and non-REN sleep, it is called a sleep cycle. A sleep cycle lasts 45-60 minutes for babies and 90-120 minutes for adults. At the end of a sleep cycle there is a brief awakening. Here your baby does a safety check and checks whether everything is OK. In order to find your way back to sleep independently, your baby needs the ability to connect sleep cycles. When this ability develops depends, among other things, on the various brain maturation processes that your baby goes through during its development.
2. What happens during the 8-month regression?
Between the 8th and 10th months your baby will make great progress again. Your baby will become more mobile: he will start to crawl and crawl, he will sit upright and may even try to pull himself up. This allows them to experience the world from a new perspective and reach things that previously seemed unattainable. Your baby's range of motion increases enormously and he can decide and control where he wants to move.
Your baby is also undergoing new developments cognitively. It develops the ability to stack things on top of each other and learns about categories. This means that it recognizes, for example, animals, people and other things and assigns them to corresponding groups.
Many babies experience their first bout of separation anxiety during this time. This is because your baby is realizing for the first time that things or people continue to exist even if he or she cannot see them. This means your baby understands that you and other people can move away from him. You can support your baby in this phase by practicing separation with him in a playful way (e.g. playing peek-a-boo, hiding behind the couch and emerging laughing).
3. What happens during the 12-month regression?
A new milestone in your baby's life has been reached: he is turning one year old! Between the ages of 11 and 13 months, your baby will make another major developmental leap. During this time, many babies begin to pull themselves up and make their first attempts to walk.
Language also develops and the first words often fall during this time. Your child has also learned to connect things and can, for example, imitate the sounds of animals depicted in a picture book.
But there is also a lot going on for many families. For many families, parental leave ends and the time comes to settle in a daycare center or with a childminder. Separation anxiety often occurs again, which can make it difficult to fall asleep. During this time, your baby experiences many new stimuli that he or she also processes at night. This can make sleep more restless. Some children find it so difficult to detach themselves from the events of the day that they only take one daytime nap instead of two during this time. But still continue to offer extra sleep. Most children return to two daytime naps after a certain period of time.
Guest article by Jana and Linda from Schlaf gut Mini:
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