If you have a baby who has been sleeping through the night for a while, and suddenly starts waking up in the middle of the night, or doggedly refusing to go to sleep, it might be a sign that she’s about to hit a new physical or mental milestone. Often, when babies are ready to meet a new milestone, they have a sudden increase in brain activity, which causes them to have difficulty nodding off to sleep. So, if your little one suddenly wants to stay up all night again, it may be a sign that she’s just about to reach that next great developmental stage.
Some milestones are harder to define than others, but it is generally believed that babies typically experience sleep regression before these milestones:
- Sitting up
Much like adults, babies may have trouble sleeping when they are processing too much new information. Of course, “new information” is a daily experience for a baby, because they are constantly developing. While walking and crawling don’t take a lot of active thinking for us as adults, the activities are new to your baby, and require a lot of mental energy.
Most of us probably look at our baby’s development predominantly from a physical standpoint, but in reality, most of the development is mental. Babies typically are physically able to reach a new milestone for quite some time before actually sitting up for the first time or taking that first step. In fact, it’s the mental activity and development preceding a new milestone which makes it difficult for baby to sleep.
Many parents find that when baby actually reaches a new milestone, such as starting to crawl, taking her first steps, or using her first real words, that the baby starts sleeping soundly through the night again. In many cases, the baby will even sleep a bit extra for a few days. In a way, this makes sense, because the baby has been exerting herself, both mentally and physically, to master a new task. Once the task is accomplished, baby’s mind is able to relax, and she is able to sleep better.
So, if you’ve just started to experience sleepless nights again, after baby had started sleeping through the night, take heart. Chances are this is temporary, and when it’s over, your baby will have a brand new skill to show off to you and the rest of the world.