Four month sleep regression no messin’ session.
We tried from the beginning to establish a night routine of sorts. My daughter was always a great sleeper and obviously that was the aim with Caleb too. In short, swaddling him in his crib in a dark room was the night routine. During the day, he’d nap in the main living space with all the normal noises of the day going on around him. We didn’t co-sleep either, so feeds during the night were in bed with me, but he was always returned to his crib. This all went pretty smoothly in the beginning. Loads of feeding, as you’d expect, but he always went back to sleep in his crib and I actually felt fairly sane most of the time.
A few weeks in, Caleb’s bed time got later and later. He was like a lunatic in the evenings, full of beans up to 2am sometimes. I tried taking him into the dark room, but I’d be in there feeding and pacing for hours and it just made me more tired and frustrated while he was having the craic. It seemed like a better plan to just roll with it and stay up until he was properly knackered.
Eventually we started to see some sort of routine develop where he’d go down at 11pm and sleep to about 4 (maybe 5), then just a quick feed and sleep again to 7am. That was pretty dandy. I felt good during that phase. Such a shame “phase” is at the end of that sentence though. Just as he approached 4 months we decided to stop swaddling him and things pretty much went to shit from there. He’d be totally settled and seemingly fast asleep in your arms, but the second he went remotely horizontal he was bawling. There was no getting him into the crib and I walked and walked the floor for hours during those nights. He was sick within a week of that happening too. He had a fever and as a result I wanted him close, so he slept with me. Sure, I thought this was sleep suicide, but with our night routine already pretty much shot to pieces, I figured screw it, my sick baby needs me.
So, with Caleb continuing to wake every couple of hours and generally being really unsettled, we put two and two together and came up with four month sleep regression.
I started reading more about it and took to putting a positive spin on the whole thing, thinking of it in terms of development and progression, rather than regression (Don’t laugh, it helps me cope. I took a similar approach to survive the early days of breastfeeding). It turns out when an infant hits four months they begin to have an adult sleeping pattern consisting of stages of light and deep sleep throughout the night. Entering a light sleep state every 90 minutes or so, a baby wakes to assess their surroundings and check they are where they’re meant to be. When they discover they are no longer in their mothers or fathers arms, or don’t have a squishy boob pressed against their face, they wake up, crying. Ah ha, so now we know why it happens, brilliant! Now let’s come up with a plan to overcome it (we say with sheer stupid naivety).
Among all the crazy little tricks you try in total desperation (you know, like honing Indiana Jones and doing the quick switch with your arm and a teddy) I discovered if I was swift enough putting him into the crib and tucking his blanket in, he miraculously settled. So next night, we RE-introduced the swaddle and sure enough it worked. He at least allowed his bum hit the crib now, but it didn’t solve the constant waking.
Before this shitty sleep development, Caleb was taking his longest sleep roughly between 11 and 5am. I figured that meant he shouldn’t all of sudden need feeding between those hours, and that I could sooth him back to sleep without a feed between those times, or better yet, teach him to self sooth. Yeah, that was wishful thinking. It took up to an hour and a half to ‘sooth’ him back into dreamville every time he woke, and sometimes he’d only kip for 40 minutes before waking again. I lasted two, three days tops, before giving that bright idea the ol’ heave ho.
Next I decided he was hungry. It made sense. He’s growing rapidly, and when I thought about it he was looking a little leaner the last week or so (he’d lost his third chin). The decision was taken to feed him every time he woke. He woke A LOT.
What next? Well to be honest I don’t really recall, what with all the blurred vision, bawling, boobs and what not. Out of nowhere, at about 21 weeks, he began to get tired by 7pm though. We tried putting him into bed and he’s been going at that time for the past two weeks. He wakes at 10pm and 1am for a feed. After that, it’s anyone’s game (usually his). I’m still trying to stretch the times between feeding by settling him without a boob. It works, so I’m guessing he’s not starving, but he still bloody wakes ALL the time. 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am, sometimes settling in 2 minutes and sometimes it takes 2 hours. The White Noise app on my phone gets a great run out during the night, and Alex and I have adjusted to sleeping with the blasting sound of everything from an Air Conditioner to a Cat Purring. I am zombefied (and clearly making up words from tiredness). Caleb doesn’t sleep during the day either. He took three 20 minute naps yesterday, and only two today. This past week I’ve brought him to play groups, music class, swimming, none of which seem to tire him out enough to sleep through the night. He’s fast approaching six months and judging from the way his eyes pop when he watches us eat, I’m sure he’s inquisitive enough to begin introducing solids. I daren’t believe a full belly will help him sleep because I’ve read too many other blogs saying it doesn’t. On the other hand, I’m defiantly ignoring all of them and holding out for a *miracle. Don’t burst my bubble!
Swaddled in a giant muslin and tucked in. Looking like butter wouldn’t melt. He’s also on a Mimos pillow, but I’ll write about that next time.
Oh, and one last thing.. the swaddle is being abandoned again. It works to get him to sleep but we think he needs to stretch more. Oh man, you really can make any stupid thought seem reasonable when you’re dealing with the unreasonable.
*Embarrassingly it took me about six attempts to spell this – WTF? I need sleep.