It wasn’t long ago I was feeling secretly smug about my baby’s sleeping habits. He slept well in the day, and fairly well at night. Better yet, he’d even put himself to sleep at night. No rocking him to and fro, no endless singing to try and get him to nod off. All it took, was laying him gently into bed, and he’d put himself to sleep within about 10 minutes.
We had a fairly good sleep routine going. It would involve a bath (every other night), a bedtime story, followed by some breast milk. I thought this was the foolproof way for an easy, stress free bedtime. During the night when he’d wake, I’d give him a quick feed (only lasting about 4-5 minutes) and then he’d nod off fairly instantly.
I was living the dream. We were genius’ – we’d cracked it! What were people complaining about?
That was until about 3 weeks ago.
Before, little man would only wake once in the night, and once again early in the morning (depending how tired I was, I’d then decide whether to get up or try and get him back to sleep). However now he’ll wake 3 or 4 times, and won’t go back to sleep afterwards.
Bedtime isn’t quite the walk in the park it used to be either. We still stick to the exact same routine, but as soon as little one is put into bed, the waterworks start, and are pretty hard to stop. It now takes a good hour or so of rocking and bum tapping to get him to fall asleep.
After a little research (well, Googling) I’ve discovered that there is a reason to all these changes.
I believe I’ve been cursed with the 4 month sleep regression.
Around this stage, baby’s brain is developing and maturing. They’re now beginning to sleep more like adults. Which means, (apparently) that rather than sleeping deeply through most of the night, they now flitter between light (REM) and deep sleep. And, when they get into their lighter sleep state, they’re likely to wake up before returning to the deeper sleep, as they don’t know how to self comfort yet.
This ‘maturing of the brain’ is also what causes our babies to start doing more things, and being more alert. Which means that they’re switched on for a lot longer. They are also getting ready to drop a nap during the day, which in turn, affects their sleeping at night.
From what I’ve learnt, the main indicators of the regression:
- Extra wakings in the night
- The dropping of a nap during the day
- An extra fussy baby
- Changes in baby’s appetite
So, if you’re baby is doing this and you’re around the 4 month mark, you’re likely experiencing the sleep regression too.
Something I think I may have been doing wrong is putting baby to bed later, to try and get him to sleep longer. But apparently that’s the worst thing I could have done. Getting baby overtired means that they’re more likely to wake during the night. As such, I’m going to attempt to start putting him to bed a little earlier – I’ll let you know how it goes.
I’m also going to stop ‘topping him up’ so regularly, and give him longer feeds at more regular intervals (of course I won’t stop him from feeding if he needs it) so that he can hopefully have a longer, more sleep inducing feed before bedtime.
I’ve also just invested in a snazzy little Grobag to try and help him sleep better, as he always wakes up with his covers kicked to the end of the bed.
Apparently this is permanent (pass me the Redbull…), but with time their sleeping patterns will improve, once they learn to self sooth. There is light at the end of the tunnel!