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112. Baby Sleep Regressions- Are They Real? With Guest Erin Junker from the The Happy Sleep Company

Sleep. It's high up on the priority list for every parent but did you know that you don't have to sacrifice your lactation goals? It's true. Even with the dreaded 4-month sleep regression. Let us teach you how.

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Read the full transcript here: 
Welcome to the Breezy Babies podcast, where we talk about all things boobs, babies and breastfeeding. This is episode 112, sleep Regressions are they Real? I'm Bree the IBCLC and I made brisbies with you in mind to help ease your transition into parenthood. Becoming a parent changes your life in every way imaginable. Bumps in the road are going to come up as you move into your new role, but my goal is to help smooth out those bumps and help you become the most confident parent you can be. With good education and support, I know you can meet your breastfeeding and parenting goals. Let's do this together. Hey there, friend. It's so good to be back with you for another episode of the Breezy Babies podcast. Thank you so much for listening in. I have an extra juicy topic for you today. I know you're going to like it because every time I have a podcast episode that has anything to do with sleep after having a baby, it is one of my most popular downloaded podcast episodes. And I understand why. Because sleep is also high up on my priority list as well. So today we are going to talk about sleep regressions. If they're real, why do they happen and how to get through them. Now, you already know that I am not asleep training expert. I'm not even a sleep trainer at all. So I do have a guest today who is much more specialized on this topic than I am. Her name is Erin Juncker and you are going to love learning from her. She owns the Happy Sleep Company and she is going to help talk to you all about sleep because I know that it is a hot topic. Now I will introduce this guest to you in more detail a little bit later on. But first, I want to talk through a couple things with you because what I have found is that sleep is a common topic that bubbles up in my one on one lactation consults. And I believe that's because of two reasons. Number one, it is very closely tied to breastfeeding. And number two is sleep is high up on the priority list of just about every human on this earth. So let's go back to reason number one. Sleeping and eating are two of the only things that babies do and that they need to do, especially with newborns. In fact, we often gauge how good of a baby they are by how well they eat and how well they sleep. Although, side note, I would argue that that is very debatable. I would go so far to say that every baby is a good baby, even if they have trouble with eating or sleeping. I often hear, oh, this is just a lazy baby, a lazy eater. I just don't buy titles like that. It may just be that that baby needs a little help to get through, but it definitely does not mean that they are not good, that they're not a good baby. Okay, reason number two sleep is high up on the priority list of just about every human on this earth. Let's talk more about that. One reason that having a newborn is so hard enlarge is because you are being asked to function at a high level with very little sleep. And that's a hard combination. Newborns are programmed to feed frequently. That's all normal. And sometimes even older babies still want to connect with you in the middle of the night, whether that's through a feed or being held. Sometimes it's more about connection with you and finding comfort more than it is about calories. And that's all fine, and that's all normal. I'm often very careful with sleep programs as a lactation consultant because I have found that many sleep programs take your lactation goals and throw them right in the trash. I have literally had clients come to me and say, oh, my sleep program taught me that my four month old should be feeding only four times in 24 hours. That is a hard one for me, because most people cannot meet their lactation goals with a feeding plan like that. Babies tummies and moms breasts are not made to work that way. Frequent emptying is what causes a great milk supply. And yes, maybe some people could do the four times in 24 hours, but most people cannot. That really depends on what your magic number is. If you don't know what I'm talking about when I say magic number, go back a few podcast episodes. I have an entire episode just on that alone, figuring out what your magic number is. But the important part is that I don't want your lactation goals to be at the expense of your sleep goals and vice versa. I choose to believe that you can have both. You can breastfeed and sleep. It doesn't have to be one or the other. And it also won't look the same for every family. Some will love to cosleep and breastfeed their baby through the night without even waking, and others will want to slowly transfer their baby from being near to them while they sleep to the bassinet to a crib. Again, it's not a one size fits all. That's why a lactation consultant like me and a sleep consultant like my guest Erin exist, because these can be tricky transitions, and you're not in this alone. So before I turn the time over to my guest, I will start by saying that if you are still pregnant and listening to this or you have a newborn, you do not need to stress about sleep training. This is a transition. New babies are not meant to sleep through the night and will often run into problems with weight gain and things such as that if they do okay, are you ready to learn about what you came for? Sleep Regressions my guest is going to talk about the four month sleep regression. Have you heard of this before? And I'll just start by saying the four months sleep regression doesn't always happen exactly at four months because it's more about when your baby exits the newborn phase. She's also going to talk about avoiding sleep props, and I'll let her get into all that. But first, let me introduce Erin a little bit. Okay? Here is her bio. She says, I am passionate about children's sleep. I firmly believe that a wellrested family is a happier, healthier family. I am committed to working with tired parents to help them help their little one to get the healthy rest they need. That means getting amazing, uninterrupted nighttime sleep and taking proper restful naps, all within a supportive and guided twoweek program. The tools and knowledge gained through a master's degree in health communications and a certificate in infant and Sleep Toddler Sleep consulting have allowed me to help hundreds of families gain amazing, healthy sleep for their children. I also have more than ten years experience in the field of health communications. She goes on to say, here's the most important part. I am a mom. So I've been there. I am the mom of an amazing little girl who wasn't always such an amazing little sleeper. Long before I became a sleep consultant, I have seen firsthand the difference that healthy sleep can make to a child and to the entire family unit. When nap times become easy, bedtimes become joyful, and nights become full of restful sleep, this makes an incredibly positive difference in the overall health, happiness and well being of families. Don't you agree? So good, so well said. So without further ado, I'm going to turn the time over to my podcast guest today, Erin. So here she is. Hi, everyone. My name is Erin Youngker. I am a pediatric sleep consultant and owner of the Happy Sleep Company. And I'm so thrilled to be joining the Brisbabies podcast today to talk to you about a hot topic, and it is sleep regressions. Are they real? When and why do they happen? How do we get through them? So let's talk about all of that today. A little bit about me. I am based in Ottawa, Canada. I have a team of amazing consultants who work with me, and we work with families all over the globe to help them get their families healthy sleep. To be taking their big, nice, long restful chunks of sleep at night, be taking their great naps during the day, and generally just getting the whole family some really healthy rest by the time we're done working together. So that's a little bit about us. You can find us at the and on Instagram at thehapysleepcompany but let's dive into sleep regressions because I know that's what everyone really wants to talk about. Okay? Are sleep regressions real? Are they a thing? They absolutely are, unfortunately. But I'm not telling you anything new if you are already a parent because you've probably already been through one or two or three or four. Hopefully not, but you probably have. The good news is that while you know they're real, you also know you can get through them. So they are real. They generally are going to happen at a few fairly distinct points in baby's life. The first one is the biggest one, the four months sleep regression. The first thing I'll say about that is that it's the most poorly named regression of all of the regressions because it really rarely happens at four months. I, as a sleep consultant, generally see children exhibiting the signs of the four month sleep regression anywhere between about ten and 14 weeks of age, because it's not about when your baby turns four months on the calendar. The four month sleep regression is about when your baby really is exiting the newborn stage and becoming an older infant and their sleep patterns are becoming more like those of an older infant, which are actually more like those of an adult than they were when they were in newborn. This means shorter sleep cycles, and that means that if your baby has become reliant on certain things in order to get to sleep in the early days of their life, they may now be looking for those things more and more often because their sleep cycles are shorter. And whenever they're in those frequent light stages of sleep, they're waking up looking for something to put them back to sleep. That might be rocking to sleep, that might be feeding to sleep or a pacifier. But many parents will find that the requests for those things becomes a lot more frequent as your baby hits that form on sleep progression. Even if your baby hasn't really relied on anything in particular to get to sleep in the newborn stage. Even if you already have a little one who can go into their crib or bassinet with their eyes open. With no what we call sleep props and go to sleep independently. They may still hit the four month sleep progression. But it might not hit quite as hard as it does with a baby who's really reliant on some of that stuff in order to get to sleep. So that's the kind of thing to look out for. If you're wondering if your baby is going through that four monthly progression that they are now waking up even more frequently than they used to, maybe your newborn was getting to the point where they were only waking up once or twice at night for a feed or a pacifier replacement. And now you're finding that your twelve week old is waking up like three, four, six times at night for a feed or a pacifier replacement. And maybe it's the case that your newborn would take like a three hour nap, but now all of a sudden your ten week old will only nap for 30 to 45 minutes at a time. Those are the signs that your child is going through the four months sleep regression. This one happens because your baby, as I said, is becoming an older infant and it's just a natural part of their development that their sleep patterns change at that point. The next sleep regression you're likely to see is around eight months. And this one is generally largely due to physical development. So seven, eight months we're seeing when baby is really now rolling, but also probably trying to get into those early stages of crawling, or for some babies, already fully crawling. And then they're soon going to get to the point where they're even going to try to pull to stand. So that is often where we see what many people refer to as the eight monthly progression. There's a lot of physical development going on at that point and then around eleven or twelve months we often see a lot of cognitive development in addition to further physical development. So now baby is not only crawling, rolling, pulling to stand, maybe even trying to walk, but in addition to that, they're trying to form their first words. That is a lot of stuff going on for a one year old and that can cause a bit of a sleep regression. And then finally what some people refer to as the 18 month sleep regression. I often call the toddler sleep regression because it doesn't necessarily happen right at 18 months. But that's really more about behavior stuff that is where your toddler is becoming a toddler and they're developing ideas of action and response and cause and effect and they're really sort of testing boundaries. Which is 100% their job as a toddler. But it can really wreak a little bit of havoc on sleep. How do we get through all of these regressions, though? That's the thing. So it's nice to know when they're coming up, but it's even better to know how to deal with them. If there's only one word I could ever be allowed to use that would help families with children's sleep, the word I would have to pick is consistency. The key is consistency. I know that can be really tough if you're not sure what to be consistent about. But certainly. Especially if you already have some really great sleep habits in place. If your child already can go into a crib on their own. Fall asleep independently. And has been sleeping through the night. For example. And then they hit a sleep regression. You really want to try to avoid introducing sleep props to get through the regression. If you've gotten to the point where your child can go down without rocking to sleep, feeding to sleep, a pacifier, et cetera, and that's all worked out and your child's been sleeping great, and then they go through a bit of a hiccup and now you're wondering how do I get through this? And you get through it by introducing those sleep props it's going to be a bit tough to go backwards because your child didn't even know those things existed, right? He was already a great sleeper and so he wasn't even aware that you rocking him to sleep in the middle of the night or coming in to read books or sing songs for an hour with him on your lap at 100 in the morning. You didn't even know that was an option. If you introduce it as an option to try to get through the regression, it's very likely that it's going to become your new normal and then you're going to have to work backwards to try to get rid of it. So best to manage those nights with some level of consistency so those nights are fewer and further between rather than creating new normals that you didn't mean to create. So rather than responding to a night wake during a regression with running in to offer sleep props, for example, if that's not something you've ever used before, then you're going to first give your baby some time, if you're comfortable with that. I would give your child some time to see what happens because sometimes they're just waking up, needing to sort of reposition and get comfy again and go back to sleep. Even as adults, we all wake up multiple times during the night. Sleeping through the night does not mean that you never hear a peep from your child. It just means that they can sleep through the night, they can wake up, they can reposition and get comfy again and go back to sleep on their own. So I would give your baby some time, give them a couple of minutes. If they wake up and they're fussy, see what happens. If fussing turns to crying, then you're going to go check on your child. You're going to make sure that they know you're there for them, but you're going to try to do it in a way that doesn't involve the sleep props like we talked about. So you're going to go in and offer some words. You're going to offer some touch. If your child needs to hear your voice, then they need to hear your voice and you're there for them. If they need a hug, you can pick them up for a hug. But then you want to try to allow your child to go back to sleep on their own rather than lingering in the rocking chair, introducing that as a crutch. Because very quickly a child of almost any age is going to now understand that this is what we do in the middle of the night instead of me just going back to sleep. So really try to manage it with consistency. It can be a frustrating night or two when you're going through something like that, but it's much more likely to be a night or two of going in and checking, offering support. It's much more likely to be a night or two than your new normal if you manage it that way, than if you start coming in and using a pacifier that you've never used before for your eight month old just to try to get through this night, or offering snacks and books and songs at 100 in the morning for your 18 month old. We really want to try to avoid that because that is something that a child is going to then start to just wake up habitually for even when they are out of this regression. The other scenario is that you have a child who is already fairly dependent on sleep props in order to go to sleep and then they hit the regression and it gets even tougher. So as we were talking about before, a child who was already pretty reliant on feeding or rocking or a pacifier in order to go to sleep now is going through a regression. And instead of just waking up once at night, they're waking up four times, or instead of just having long naps, they're having only short naps and you're having to replace the pacifier every time or rock your child back to sleep every time and you just become really exhausted. That might be a scenario where in order to get to the other side of the regression, you might want to think about some version of sleep coaching to help your little one learn some more independent sleep skills. And sleep coaching does not need to mean just leaving your baby alone in a room to cry by themselves until they go to sleep. They need to be able to hear your voice, as I said earlier, they need to be able to feel your touch and have a hug if they need a hug, and sleep coaching can absolutely involve that. But if you are a parent who's gone through a regression with their child, and the sleep props you are using not only don't really work well anymore, but also are just being needed extremely often and you as a family unit are feeling extremely exhausted and like you need a different way now for your baby to sleep to get through this regression. Some version of sleep coaching may be what your family is looking for to get your child different sleep skills than they had before they entered this regression. We have loads of resources available on our website about nap time routines, bedtime routines, sleep coaching techniques and everything in between, so don't hesitate to take a look there. Those are some tips for what to expect with those regressions and how to start to manage them. I hope it's helpful. Thank you again to Brizy babies for having me on. Check us for loads more information. All right? Thank you, Erin. So good. If you were listening to that and you were thinking, oh, my gosh, I need to know more, then no worries. I'm going to tell you where you can learn more from Erin and I'll also link her in the show notes so you can send her an email. she provides sleep guides and one on one sleep programs at the Happy sleep You can find her on Instagram at thehappysleepcompany or you guessed her website just in general is the so easy to find her. I'll also link it in the show notes. You can go and say hello to her. Tell her thank you for sharing her amazing expertise on his podcast episode today. I hope feel a little bit more confident about how to navigate through those tricky sleeve regressions. And of course I'm going to leave you with you are strong, you are smart, you are beautiful, you're a good friend. All talk to you next week.



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