Before we wade through the reasons for 7-month sleep regression, let’s first talk about what exactly a sleep regression is.
One of the questions on most parents minds is whether they’ll be able to get adequate amounts of sleep during that first year. In many instances, your baby will be content to drift off to sleep every chance they can get. During this time, you might focus on doing things around the house or staring dreamily into that new beautiful face you brought into the world.
Soon enough, however, your baby will become restless at the oddest of hours. You will find yourself waking up in the middle of the night to calm them down when they’re crying. And due to this unpredictable sleep pattern, known as sleep regression, your own sleep pattern will be distorted.
The main reasons behind 7-month-old sleep regression are the development of your baby’s brain and the growth spurt that their body is going through. As the baby’s brain develops throughout the first year of life, the infant picks up some vital skills along the way. These skills include being able to flip over, sit independently, pull himself up, and crawl. When your baby is learning these skills, they will be eager to perfect them — hence the constant fussiness and night waking.
Despite the fact that sleep progression disrupts your routine and may impact your close relationship with your partner, it’s actually a sign that your baby is hitting some of the important milestones in their development.
While the 7-month sleep regression tells you that your baby is developing quite well, knowing that doesn’t always put your mind at rest. You’re likely feeling tired and at your wits’ end due to your baby’s fussiness and seemingly endless night awakenings.
What you should know is that this stage is quite normal during the first year. Once the baby achieves their key milestones, their sleeping patterns return to normal and you’ll finally get some peace and quiet in the house for a whole night.
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A 7-month sleep regression baby can be quite a handful — even for parents who have already dealt with the issue with previous children. Your baby will almost suddenly shift from being quite calm and charming to being fussy, choosy with food, waking up multiple times during the night, and taking fewer naps during the day.
Here are a few tips that can help make this stage of the first year comfortable for the baby and easier for you to manage.
Allocate time for practicing skills during the day
During the day, give your child as much time as possible to practice the new skills they’ve learned. For example, if your child is trying to sit up unassisted, provide a lot of toys and let them try to reach out to grasp them and play. Let them do the task unassisted.
Create a sleep routine
At this point in time, your baby requires around 10 to 12 hours of sleep. There are two sleep stages: REM (rapid eye movement, the time when dreaming occurs), and non-REM (deep sleep). Create a routine and stick to it so that your baby can fall asleep when it’s nighttime. When it’s time for bed, get in the habit of reading a book, singing a lullaby, or even giving your baby a bath. They will eventually start to associate these acts with falling asleep.
You should also encourage them to fall asleep on their own. You can do this by laying them down in the crib when they’re just drowsy but not totally asleep. In the beginning, you can wait nearby as they fall asleep, as your presence gives them some reassurance.
Ensure your baby is getting enough food throughout the day
When you’re breastfeeding your baby during the day, there are likely many distractions that will take their attention away from feeding. As a consequence, you might assume that your baby is fully satisfied when they aren’t.
Try to remove distractions during meal times to ensure your baby gets full. On a full stomach, your baby won't wake up with much regularity for more feeding during the night. It’s also advisable to resist the urge to breastfeed at night in a bid to quiet the baby when they’re crying. They come to expect it and will cry during the night just so that you can feed them.
Recognize your baby’s sleep cues
Your baby might inadvertently let you know that they want to sleep by yawning, becoming fussy, or rubbing their eyes. If you notice any of these signs, take your baby to the crib as soon as possible. Delaying this could cause them to lose sleep and disturb you throughout the night.
Ask family and friends to help out
One of the effects of 7-month-old sleep regression is that your outward demeanor changes. You may feel frazzled, stressed, and even appear unkempt. If you have family or friends that are willing to help, don’t be afraid to ask them to keep an eye on the baby while you catch up on some sleep. You’ll wake up fresh and alert, ready to continue taking care of your baby.
It’s not uncommon for the 7-month sleep regression to push you to the edge as a parent. Remember, though, that it doesn’t last forever and your baby’s sleep pattern will return to normal soon.