Newb Mom here.. again….. Third blog I have done this week.
Ah my sweet little baby… that only took a twenty minute nap and woke up ready to play. Yeah right. I know what’s going on here and NO, you may not get up to play. Why not? Because twenty minutes is NOT a nap and you will be cranky because of it.
This is the conversation I have been having with Little Man the last few days. We are in the throws of the 4 month sleep regression. It can happen as early as 3 months and as late as 5 months. Basically his sleep is all thrown off lately. He has been fighting bedtime and naps, he’s been getting up all hours of the night to eat, and it is nearly impossible to get him to settle back down when he takes these “micro” naps.
There are a few different theories on why they go through this sleep regression:
- They are acquiring new skills and they would rather practice these skills than sleep.
- Growth spurts and teething are causing hunger and discomfort, especially at night.
- They are starting to have adult like sleep patterns. Meaning that they wake after a short sleep cycle (much like we do, like waking to adjust our pillow then going back to sleep), but they cannot soothe themselves back to sleep without help.
- My least favorite; they are learning to roll over and sometimes get stuck in a position that they are not comfortable in. Until they can roll front to back and back to front on their own, they will need help to get un-stuck.
I have been trying to tackle Little Man’s problems one at a time, starting with bedtime. This week he is sleeping in his own room. The first night was somewhat difficult. As usual he woke up 30 min after going to bed and I spent about an hour getting him to go back to sleep. I am not a huge fan of Cry It Out because my baby’s cries are like that of a screaming Banshee. He gets himself so riled up that he coughs and chokes. The most I’ll let him cry is 5-10 min. This usually happens because he gets stuck on his back (he’s a tummy sleeper). My strategy is to let him cry a little, then go in and roll him over. I do this until he falls asleep. If he is really not having it, I will pick him up and rock him to sleep. After getting him to sleep, he woke up every two hours to eat. Not ideal, but he had a rough night so I didn’t mind too much. On the second night, he woke up again after 30 min, but it only took one session of rocking him to get him back to sleep, and he only woke twice during the night to eat. He woke up super happy and ready to take on the day. I am hoping that with a little more work, he will be easier to put down at night and sleep longer between feedings. I want to note that we also have a bedtime routine of book, bath, nurse, bed.
We chose to put him in his own room for a few reasons:
- His room is a bit darker than ours and stays darker early in the morning.
- He would not be woken by the sounds of us snoring, moving around, and getting up.
- His sound machine is in his room and it has been a life-saver.
- Mom and dad sleep better, thus we are more rested to play with him during the day
Today I am working on his naps. As I sit here typing this I have been getting up and down to tend to Little Man. He fell asleep at 8:30am, got up at 9 (not long enough), I worked with him till almost 10:30, and he’s been asleep steadily for the last 15 min. I know what you are thinking….. why not just let him get up after 30 min and put him down later? The answer is this…. I am training him to take longer naps and if I just get him up after a short nap, he will never get the idea. Babies need that long restorative sleep so I am aiming to get him to take a 2 hour nap at each naptime. If this means that I have to spend an hour and a half soothing him, rocking him, and letting him cry till he gets a good stretch of sleep then so be it. He is also in the process of learning how to self soothe and I dont want to interrupt that by not giving him a chance to practice. It breaks my heart to see him upset, but I look at it this way; I need to respect his need for sleep, and as the parent I am responsible for ensuring that he gets it. There will be days where I win the battle, and days where he will win, and thats just how it is.
Here are some of the things I use to soothe Little Man and keep him sleeping soundly:
- I make sure his diaper is clean and his tummy is full
- I have a fan and a white noise machine in his room. I figure it drowns out any other noises that might startle him awake.
- If he is not too fussy, I will let him cry 5 min, roll him over, let him cry another, roll him over and repeat till he is asleep. If he is on his tummy and crying I’ll pat his back in place of rolling him over.
- If he is full blown Banshee, I will pick him up and rock with him.
- If rocking doesn’t work then I take him into the bathroom (there is no window) and close the door for complete darkness until he settles down.
- I will offer a feeding if he didn’t have one before I first put him down.
- Sometimes I will offer him a blanket (that smells like me) to calm him.
- If all these things fail, then I will just get him up and try again at the first sign of him being tired.
There is no perfect solution for helping your baby sleep. The best advice I can give is to really pay attention to your baby and take your cues from them. Each one is a beautiful individual and requires individualized solutions. Keep trying different things and you will find your groove. Just remember that you are the parent and despite how upset they get, you know what is best and your baby will be all the better for it. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below. I would love some other suggestions on how to handle this “exciting” time in my baby’s life. Thank you for reading.