The Sleep Thieves - Intellectual Thieves of Sleep Part two

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 Intellectual Thieves of Sleep


Today we will cover a bit more of the intellectual thieves of sleep

Yesterday we looked at personality and temperament types of our little ones and how certains types respond in various situations including sleep.


Today i want to cover Developmental milestones from an intellectual aspect. We talked a little about development of emotions & intellect affecting sleep.


Today i want to look at developmental milestones and sleep regressions.

A development milestone is a marked part of your little one's development usually based around physical skills. Rolling over, sitting up, crawling standing and walking are skills that your little one will develop and these key stages are often referred to as milestones.


A developmental leap (imho) is usually associated more with your little one’s intellectual development. The way they think and feel and also how they take in information & knowledge about the world around them and how they process that information will change from time to time as they grow and learn more and more.

If you have the book wonder weeks you may be familiar with developmental leaps already.intellectual Sleep thieves part 2 Pinterest (1)


Usually around the time of a leap or advance in your little one's intellectual development. They can become uncharacteristically fussy or clingy, hungrier perhaps but more in need of interaction and reassurance from you than normal. All of which is completely normal but can be unerring as a mum if it's not something you're aware of or expecting.


What's a sleep regression?

A sleep regression is really a developmental progression that interferes with how your little one sleeps. Usually most noticeable on little ones who previously were pretty good sleepers.

What happens is there's a progression in their development or they have a leap which results in the clingy and fussiness which can occur anytime in A 24 hour period. At night these new feelings or behaviours seem so much tougher to deal with if you're both tired and want to sleep.


You may  have heard of the 4 month and 9 month regressions which just happen to coincide with developmental advances in your little one.


At 4 around months (but can occurs between 3-5 months there is a change in how your little one sleeps and also this is around the time when they are beginning to learn to roll over.  The changes in your little one's behaviour usually occur before the emergence of these new physical skills. It's like the wiring is taking place before hand in the brain ready for these new skills to emerge.  


Learning about your littles ones development and what's coming up can help you plan ahead and prepare yourself for what's to come.


The 9 month (can occur quite between 8-10 months) sleep regression occurs around about the time  where little ones separation anxiety may have heightened as well as advances in their physical development too. Separation anxiety is when your little one's understanding of object permanence begins to solidify. They now remember you when your out of sight and that combined with new awareness of space and how big the world around them is freaks them out a little making them fearful and clingy.  They may be attempting to say small simple words too meaning their auditory perception is heightened. They seem so much more aware and sensitive to sounds and language gearing them up ready to speak. Also they will probably have learnt how to stand and even cruise around furniture but have not yet learnt how to get back down after perhaps pulling themselves to standing. The amazing and also slightly annoying thing about emerging skills is that babies often practice these skills in moments of quiet and when they are coming into light sleeps ie at night.


How will I know if this is a sleep regression or developmental leap?

Look at your little one's age and development. Have they become more fussy or clingy than usual lately? Are they approaching 4 or 9 months ?

Have they recently learnt any new skills or trying to say or form words?

Have they suddenly began waking early at naps or overnight where before they would sleep longer or right through the night?

Developmental milestones  leaps or progressions (aka sleep regression) in your little one's development can't be avoided the best way to deal with them is to know be aware of when they can occur and plan ahead, it's a very normal part of your little one’s development.  Remaining predictable and consistent with your bedtime pre -nap and daytime routines will ensure your little one is comforted through these sometimes unnerving changes & easily get back on track with their sleeping habits once the regression passes.


** Top tip **

When your little one is on the brink of learning or has learnt new skills theses new discoveries can seem exciting and interesting for them and they want to practice these new skills however night time is not the ideal time. Help take the shine and excitement off these new found skills by giving your little one opportunity to practice these new skills during the day when you can support them. You can give lots of encouragement when they pull themselves to stand and also support them as they learn how to get back down again after pulling themselves standing  too. This boosts their confidence as well as strengthening these new skills they have.


Sleep associations and habits

As association or habit is anything your little one associates with falling asleep.

I often have mums asking me if feeding to sleep or rocking or cuddling to sleep is bad habit. My answer is no they aren't bad habits at all. Feeding or rocking your baby to sleep is not a bad habit . It could make life a little tricky later on if it the ONLY way your little one can get to sleep but if rocking or feeding  to your little one to sleep suits you both, you should continue to do so. I don't think any of any habits or associations as bad or good rather than some habits your little one may have around Sleep time may involve some or a lot of involvement from you and others are more independent associations or habits.

I divide these into 2 groups independent associations and parent dependent associations.

Parent dependent meaning that the association your little one has with sleep at the moment may depend on a parent  to assisting them in falling asleep & vice Versa for independent associations.


Some mums suspect that perhaps if their little ones had more independent habits and associations than parent dependent ones their little ones would sleep better at night and in may respects this is true( if that's the reason for your little ones night wakings.) If you suspect your little one wakes overnight and just needs your help to get back to sleep you may want to consider introducing more independent sleep associations whilst reducing how much you assist your little one in getting to sleep (easier said than done I know and I have a class that may help you with this you can access for free)


In the table below are examples of sleep associations babies and toddlers may have. Consider the types of associations your little one has right now are they independent or parent dependent associations?


Does your little one rely solely on you to get to sleep or can your little one get to sleep by themselves sometimes. If they can comfortably go from being relaxed and calm to sleeping on occasions why not give your little one more opportunities to practice this skill. Remember being able to sleep independently is a skill and skills take practice.

Consider the types of associations your little one has right now are they independent or parent dependent associations?

Parent Dependent                                                   Independent

  • Breastfeeding or bottle feeding to sleep

  • Rocking to sleep

  • Patting to sleep

  • Dummies

  • Bedtime/pre nap routines

  • Swaddling

  • White noise/gentle music

  • Thumb sucking

  • Lovie's/cuddly toys/ comfort object

  • Dark rooms

  • Scented oils


Think of the habits and associations your little one has at the moment? Do you have routines and rituals in place to help with the wind down process? If you do are you regular and consistent with them or do you just do them every now and again?

Do you swaddle your little one or use white noise overnight. Does your little one have a comfort object? Or do they like to suckle on their thumb or their dummy?


Before trying to reduce the use of parent dependent associations I think it's better to introduce new habits and associations first and allow your little one a chance to get accustomed to new ways of getting to sleep. Remember we are building on what they can do and respond well to then we can reduce the use of old methods and habits that no longer suit either of you.


That's all for today


Tomorrow we cover the last category of sleep thievery.




Day one. Day Two  Day Three Day Four