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The four month sleep ‘regression’ - How one word has royally screwed over parents for years

Ok people, I’m talking about the word ‘regression’. You know the one...

...“How old is your baby? Oh no, that means they’ll be going through the dreaded four-month sleep regression soon. Sad times. No sleep for you.” *insert other helpful comments from well-meaning people here.*

As a new parent I was bloody terrified of sleep regressions. And why wouldn’t I be, they are painted in such a negative way, it’s not something you’re going to sit back and look forward to.

But much like a lot of things when it comes to parenting, it has been presented all wrong - designed to intimidate and strike fear into the souls of mums and dads all over the world.

A simple re-zhuzhing of the phrase and some education around what it actually means is going on in your child’s world, could save a lot of worry and help reassure parents.

The four month sleep ‘progression’

So what is actually going on at roughly the four month mark for your baby, is:

Their sleep cycle is maturing. The physical architecture of the sleep cycle evolves from a very simple one to a highly complex multi-stage mature sleep cycle.

It’s no wonder this can be massively unsettling for some babies. But see, to call it is a ‘regression’ in light of this, is quite frankly, a bit bonkers.

Take a random example. If you couldn’t even cook a boiled egg, so decided to go on a cooking course and can now knock-up a duck a l'orange - I’m not going to tell my friends your cooking has regressed - you’ve made a forward, not a backwards step with your cooking. I mean, you couldn’t even cook an egg for Pete’s sake.

So why, when our babies are making a step forward in their development, are we still referring to it as a ‘regression’? It is a sign of progress and should be something to be celebrated as a milestone your baby is developing.

It’s not only the four month progression which gets bad press - eight, 12 and 18 months are on the hit list too.

But in fact, any time of rapid development for babies such as wanting to practice a new skill - rolling, talking crawling etc, could have an impact on their sleep.

But when we know why this is happening and we view it through the lens of forward development, it’s a little bit easier to get our heads round and work through.

Not all babies are the same

My first born definitely had a blip in the sleep department around the eight to 10 month mark, likely linked to a progression in development and I remember really struggling with it. So with my second I was gearing myself up for it, discussing it with friends, telling them how I ‘knew’ it was going to happen and how I was dreading it. Guess what. It never happened. I wasted weeks fretting over something that never materialised. Lesson well and truly learnt.

And that’s the point isn’t it - no two children are the same. Scaring parents into believing that all babies are going to go through these same so-called ‘regressions’ at the same time is misleading, anxiety-inducing and quite frankly just annoying.

So next time someone tries to talk to you about ‘sleep regression’, spread the word - it’s a ‘sleep progression’ - that’s right, my baby is pretty bloody awesome actually.

If your little one is currently having a bit of a progression party and it’s messing with their sleep and you’d like some one-to-one help, check out my sleep support packages, or hop on your free 15 minute introductory call. Or in the meantime head over to my Instagram page for all my latest free help and tips.

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