There. I said it. Sleep regression does not exist.
I hear that term often from moms – in my office, at the mothering support group I facilitate, on social media – and it has never sat well with me.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines regression as “A return to a former or less developed state”.
In all of her wisdom, why would Mother Nature have our physical development move backwards, several times during infancy?
During Emery’s first year, I recall trying to wrap my head around the first sudden change in his sleep. The frequent (hourly!) waking through the night and constant need to be held during the day was taking a toll. I was exhausted. That’s when I discovered the ‘Wonder Weeks’.
The Wonder Weeks, studied and written about by Dutch researchers and psychologists Franz Plooij and Hetty Van Der Rit, are periods of rapid neurological development, during the first two years of your child’s life. During these periods (which often last more than a week!), your child’s entire experience of the world changes (can you imagine?!).
And, while these “Mental Leaps” are a needed for baby to learn new skills, the newness can be frightening.
In order to feel safe and loved, he’ll do anything he needs to stay close to you – crying, clinging and being cranky – day and night.
More recently, I read an article by Pinky McKay, a lactation consultant and author from Australia, that connected the terms ‘Wonder Week’ and ‘sleep regression’. The most common one I hear about – ‘the four month sleep regression’ – falls at the time of Wonder Week 19 (AKA Mental Leap #4).
So, at the time when so many parents feel like everything is getting worse (regression), their little ones are actually progressing!
I know how painfully challenging those times can be – for all aspects of your health – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
Just when you’re feeling like you’re getting the hang of things…just when you’re starting to get a little more sleep…baby’s suddenly more fussy…napping less…waking more often through the night.
Here are the TOP TEN things that have helped me, and many of my patients, move through the struggle more healthfully:
1. Rule out other common sources of discomfort that can be soothed in other ways. Is he teething? Is she gassy or constipated? Is he fighting a cold (stuffy, runny nose, cough, fever…)? Is she going through a growth spurt? Need some support with sorting this out? Book an appointment – I’m here to help.
2. Reassure yourself (constantly!). You haven’t done anything wrong to make this happen (let go of the Mama guilt!). Your baby hasn’t done anything to make this happen. While challenging, this is a healthy and natural process that both you and your little one are growing through.
3. The Blessing of Babywearing. Keeping baby snuggley close to you throughout the day, helps her feel safe and secure, while keeping your hands free. If you`re not familiar with babywearing, the Babywearing International website is a fantastic resource.
4. Co-Sleeping. Done safely, co-sleeping is a great way for baby to feel comforted by your closeness and for both of you to get a little more sleep.
5. Reach out & ask for help. You don’t have to struggle through alone! Who will make a meal or pick up some healthy take-out for you? Who will stop by to visit, to snuggle baby while you take a nap or a relaxing bath? Where can you meet other Mamas in your community, to chat about the joys and challenges of motherhood?
6. Bach Rescue Remedy. This gentle remedy is a must have in your medicine cabinet and diaper bag! It’s focus is to help calm the storm inside, when we are stressed, anxious or overwhelmed. Add 4 drops of Rescue Remedy to a glass of filtered water and sip it throughout the day. You can also use a medicine dropper to give a few drops of the solution to your little one, if he is having a particularly challenging day or night.
7. Stay hydrated. Water supports your overall health. The cells of your body use it to make energy, everyday. And, if you are breastfeeding, you’re going to need lots of water to keep your milk supply up, during these high demand times. Remember, baby breastfeeds for more than nutrition – it is mentally, emotionally and spiritually soothing.
8. Healthy Snacks (AKA nutritious & easy to eat while holding an infant!) Another way to support your energy levels. Two of my favourites are raw veggies with hummus and homemade, no-bake, granola bars.
9. Nourish your spirit. Go for a walk & take in the fresh air with slow, deep breaths. Focus on healthy breathing while you’re rocking with or nursing baby. I also love doing mantra meditation while rocking with Emery.
10. Book an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. During 1:1 consultations, we have the opportunity to explore how stress (yes mothering through the Wonder Weeks is stressful!) affects you and your health. With this full assessment, we work together to create a manageable therapeutic plan, that includes gentle, natural medicines to support your whole health. Reserve your appointment today, by calling the clinic – 506-382-1560 or by clicking on Book Now