4 Months: Chatter Baby’s Speech Update

As a speech therapist it has obviously been so exciting to watch my baby daughter’s communication skills develop! To watch her go from what looked like a mere observer of human life, passive and watching from the outside, to a fully fledged, active,  engaged (and engaging!) social being. As a new Mum I have obviously convinced myself that she has already said her first word! And I think that word is…wait for it…”OK”. Now that I’ve picked up on this I hear CB say this constantly throughout the day – a word that peppers her adorable early babble sounds.  Now, I know she doesn’t understand what she is saying and her word obviously doesn’t sound exactly like my version of the word – it sounds more like “nnngay”.  Maybe I’m imagining things (I blame the sleep deprivation and my hazy new mum status!).  Maybe my Speech Therapist ear is so well-trained that I am picking up things that aren’t even there!  But babies do start imitating speech in the first few months after birth and are familiar with all the sounds of their native language as early as 4 months of age – so it might not be so unbelievable that CB was unwittingly trying out her first real words already!

Of course, as a Speech Therapist, I thought I knew a lot about babies vocal development.  That was before my little one was born.  Something I didn’t know was how noisy newborns are from birth! I expected the crying, cooing, the blowing raspberries, the squeals and all the other cute gurgley sounds the babies on the nappy adverts make when trying to communicate. However, I was completely unprepared for the unladylike grunting, throat clearing and generally scary involuntary sounds that babies make that stop their Mum’s from sleeping though the night! While everyone else in my family was laughing away (“What funny sounds she’s making! Hahaha”) I was busy panicking that my poor little girl was choking or going to have vocal fold nodules before she was even a month old! I did eventually get used to these noises and my Chatter Baby soon expanded her repertoire of speech sounds to those I was more familiar with.  I was also reminded of how unprepared my little girls digestive system was for the outside world! Not every sound she made was her trying to communicate with me, sometimes it was just about getting a bit of wind.  Who knew it was seriously hard work!

I’ve started video journal of CB’s speech (I will be posting videos below) so I will definitely be keeping a close eye on this “nnngay” to see what it turns into.  However, it does look like I am actually experiencing how children can be a perfect mirror of their parents.  It turns out that a word I say hundreds of times a day is, surprise surprise, “OK!”. Now that I’m tuned in I can I hear myself saying it “OK! Let’s change your nappy OK?… OK I’m just going to put you on the bed for a minute…OK! Let’s put you on the changing table now…OK! OK! we’re nearly finished! Don’t cry …OK we’re finished!!” I even recall myself desperately making up a song featuring this word when CB randomly started crying in her car seat while I was driving “Mama’s gonna make it OK, OK! Mama’s gonna make it OKAAAY! Mama’s gonna make it OK in a minute. Mama’s gonna make it OKAAAY!” (repeat infinitum until baby stops/doesn’t stop crying). So I guess, with all that (auditory) bombardment of this word my poor girl didn’t stand a chance! Word to the wise – figure out what yours and/or your partner’s favourite word is then listen closely. You may hear a baby version of it sooner than you think!


4 Months: Hello Sleep Regression!

At about 3 1/2 months we started to approach the imminent four-month Sleep Regression. I have googled this a million times trying to find the miracle cure but at the same time knowing there isn’t one. For our experience of the four month regression my little one decided to do a mix-and-match of different things each day just to give us a real flavour of what this period of development involves. So in one week we had:

Monday – waking up every 1 or 2 hours (this again!)

Tuesday – we didn’t fancy sleeping in the cot (Mummy’s bed was better) and developed the ability to go from a coma like state to wide-awake and laughing in two seconds!

Wednesday – another night in Mummy’s bed (cue Daddy gets an uninterrupted nights sleep on the sofa – you are rightly sensing mild jealousy here) but little one doesn’t fancy sleeping at all really (cue Mum entertaining little one for 3 hours in the early hours of the morning)

Thursday – surprise, surprise, little one actually wants to sleep in her cot tonight but heat rash decides to kick in and the itching wakes her up every five minutes!

Friday – Mummy gives up trying to put little one to sleep at 10pm (bedtime was 7pm) and brings her out to chill with her dad (this involves watching Tom and Jerry on the iPad…facepalm!)

I did come across a few articles to help me understand what my little girl was actually going through and why, which helped to get through this stage and kept my sanity intact. Despite its depressing name I came to find that this was actually a positive sign that she is developing as expected.  For example, as a nearly four month old, CB was getting more and more aware of the world around her.  In fact she is so alert that she gets distracted from her day time feeds and needs to catch up at night – makes sense when you think about it.  Also as she is officially no longer a newborn- sigh – she was growing out of her newborn sleeping pattern i.e. sleeping easily and a lot in the day (much needed bliss as a new mum and dad!) and developing her more permanent mature sleep pattern. It was like she woke up and suddenly realised that she was on her own when she was asleep and evidently this was a huge shock to the system (for me and her!).  But staying positive I would say to myself that all development is good development, right?

On my sleep regression research journey I also found that there were lots of other “sleep regressions” to look forward to throughout my little ones early years of development (yippee!). However what is unique about this one is that it never ends – fabulous! What does that mean??? Thankfully not that we will never have a restful night again – by restful I mean only waking up a few times when Chatter Baby is hungry rather than when she just wants to hang out for three hours. I learnt that this means this was the beginning of a permanent change in sleep pattern – whereas the other regressions will be more like little hiccups before sleep goes back to normal. Also, I guess it means that I now have to help CB to soothe herself to sleep when she wakes up during the frequent periods of light sleep that will happen every 30-45 minutes.

Now I’m reticent about using the words “sleep training” in print with my name next to it. It sounds like I’m about to put my baby through military programme! But like everything else in life I take advice and recommendations with a pinch of salt. So I won’t be doing anything exactly by the book – I think very few people (or babies) can. As appealing as it would be to have a Contented Little Baby and despite learning a lot about babies from reading this well-known book, I’m not sure I have it in me to have my little one under a full Gina Ford routine!  However, a few reliable naps that I could look forward to would be nice and would also save me from having an overtired baby on my hands (visualise a crying, laughing baby hours after bedtime and a crying mum who is still talking in hushed tones, trying to put her baby to sleep).  However for now – in the midst of this regression – I will just settle for getting my little one to sleep by any means necessary.

My Chatter Baby is also going through the 16 weeks growth spurt (which helpfully merges with the 12 week growth spurt), as well as going through a leap in her brain development (leap 4 if you follow Wonder Weeks) and of course has a bit of of heat rash for good measure. So evidently it’s not such a great time to try and wean little one off of her dummy or teach her how to go back to sleep in her cot without Mummy’s cuddles. Even when I do you get round to this, it will be served with a huge side of guilt as usual, something that I guess I’ll have to get used to as a mum. As I said to my partner the other day being a baby is handwork and “How would you feel if you were pulled out of your warm cosy bed in the middle of the night and thrown into a cold white cell!”. I would cry too – even if I did have my teddy with me!





The New Contented Little Baby Book: The Secret to Calm and Confident Parenting by Gina Ford