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