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Mum

Any tips for managing an eight month sleep regression? My son used to sleep through the night but now he's waking in the early hours. He often takes over an hour to get back to sleep, and that's after a lot of soothing, and often the bottle is the only answer (but I'm conscious thats probably a bad habit?)

Sleep regressions/progressions are a part of a baby's development. You can't stop them, but we're going to focus on what you can do.

1. Keep calm. Babies sense panic! It’s understandable that you’d find sleep and nap times stressful if they’re a bit of a car-crash. But acknowledge this, and then try to dump those thoughts somewhere to enable yourself to stay calm, confident, and connected.

2. Re-evaluate their naps. Has your little one’s need for naps changed? Watch your baby’s individual tired cues and be responsive to them.

3. Consider fiddling with bedtime. Around eight months when nap needs often reduce, babies may need a slightly earlier bedtime to compensate.

4. Maintain your predictable, positive and calming routines.

5. If the bottle is the quickest and easiest way of settling him at night continue to use it - but you might also like to address how he is regulating during the day. Are you supporting him to co-regulate, or are you doing his regulating for him by giving him a bottle every time he is upset? If the answer to the latter is yes then you might like to try soothing him in another way. This gives him the opportunity for co-regulation emotional expression during the day, otherwise his developmental frustrations and tensions will build and can up disturb his sleep at night. It's also not fair to change how you respond to him during the night until you have practiced responding in a different way during the day. Usually, sleep regressions last several days, but it depends what else is going on. Progress can be much slower.

Psychologists say it takes a couple of months to form a firm habit, and that’s with no interruptions in consistency (and with babies, maintaining solid consistency for two months can be tricky!) In reality, progress is likely to have ups and downs. Sometimes it will feel like you’ve made some in-roads, and then you’ll feel like you’ve plateaued and got ‘stuck’. Other times, especially during particularly significant times of development or massive routine disruptions, it may feel like your baby is having one of many sleep regressions. It’s normal for progress to feel like this. Try to stay calm, and remember that all phases eventually come to an end.

Emma, Tinto Expert