Four-Month Sleep Regression

26 Jun

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I had never heard of it until it started happening. Since the end of May David has been sleeping 12-hour nights, usually waking once in the early morning to eat, and taking two two-hour naps with a short 30-45 minute nap in the late afternoon. He still can’t stay awake longer than an hour and a half during the day. He turned four months on June 24, and I think that was the day he started taking 30-minute naps every time, which ended in crying, and he started waking up a lot at night. I haven’t fed him in the nighttime (except that 5 a.m. feeding) in a long time so it didn’t even occur to me to feed him all those times. I just soothed him and he would go back to sleep for another hour or two. It was weird and horrible.

Because I thought it was interesting that he would start crying while seemingly still asleep, I googled it and found a lot of talk about “four-month sleep regression.” (Also a lot about night terrors but this I dismissed.) I was kind of relieved to know this is normal and he is freakishly on schedule for it, but upon further reading I realized it isn’t a phase, just a permanent change in the way he sleeps. No more easy baby sleep. Now he sleeps like a grown-up (more or less) with REM and everything. AND, the icing on the cake, he has to learn to wake up a little and put himself back to sleep every two hours, all night long. It’s not fair to call it a regression, obviously, when it is more of a progression, but I think it is going to be really tiring for all of us for a while.

My baby’s getting so old.

His bedroom is quite dark and there is a fan in there for pretty loud white noise, which is why his naps got so long I think. Last night in there he started crying about 45 minutes after falling asleep, was awake and fussy for like five minutes, and then fell back asleep on his own. (I watch him constantly on the video monitor. I just think he is so cute. I can’t put it down. Josh will tell you.) Two hours later, same thing. It took longer for him to fall asleep that time because he kept curling his legs up and then falling asleep and they would fall down and jolt him awake. But he was not really crying much. I didn’t hear him again until 6:25. He usually wakes up to eat when Josh starts moving around, or sometimes a few minutes before Josh’s alarm goes off. :)

He has been napping now for 59 minutes, the little darling. I am glad because he has seemed really, really tired the past few days!

Oh, but what I forgot to say above is that while it didn’t previously occur to me that he would be waking up from hunger, I am going to try feeding him in the night sometimes if he doesn’t fall back asleep within a couple minutes. Sometimes he doesn’t nurse very well before bed because he is too distracted, and there is always the chance that he’s in a growth spurt or something. And I don’t think I should be expecting a teeny child to go 9-12 hours without eating just because he can!

Also, he is getting quite close to rolling over. He rolls onto his side all the time. So we will be phasing out the swaddling, which seems like cruel timing because he is going through this sleep thing.

So many people told me when I was pregnant that once he was born I would not get a decent night’s sleep or sleep late in the morning for twenty years. One man said thirty years. But with the exception of this week, I have been getting tons of quality sleep for months because Davy has, too. So I feel pretty lucky overall, and who knows, maybe he will beat this thing and be an excellent sleeper his whole life. Maaybe.

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7 Responses to “Four-Month Sleep Regression”

  1. stephaniechayrez June 26, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    That does not sound like a fun “phase”. Sorry Davy! Personally i wouldn’t try feeding him in the middle of the night in case he might become emotionally dependent on it, but I can tell you’re a way nicer mom than me. I’m always like, “Ugh, just go back to sleep, what is WRONG with you?”

    • littleapartment June 26, 2014 at 11:55 am #

      I try not to lose it because I can see when Josh handles him crankily that they just feed off each other’s crankiness. So I focus on the sad, cute side of fussiness when I can. Lol?
      I read that you shouldn’t worry about forming habits at this age, because it’s not as important as getting the sleep-deprived kid to sleep. Is that scarily shortsighted? I don’t know that we’re that desperate yet. But I feel like he’s always regulated his own nighttime feedings so if he starts getting hungry more often I should continue to follow his lead. Not willy-nilly, you understand, but I was astonished to read that a lot of people’s 4-month-old babies (on the internet) don’t go nine or ten hours without eating.

      • littleapartment June 26, 2014 at 11:56 am #

        As in, they never went that long. Like five to six hours is what they call “normal.”

        • stephaniechayrez June 26, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

          Yeah, Robin was definitely not sleeping that long until after 5 months. They do say baby-lead feedings are ideal! He doesn’t exactly look like he’s fading away though; I would take that as license to do whatever you feel is best. Which you obviously are.

          • littleapartment June 27, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

            I don’t want to over-think this but it is so wishy-washy that I don’t feel like we can get much of a handle on it and I just want to make sure that he doesn’t spend his babyhood hungry or sleep-deprived and be a light sleeper or insomniac indefinitely. I should probably just go with the flow and stop rambling about it on my blog but it did help me organize my thoughts a little. It is very comforting that he remains in the upper 90th.

  2. thelittlefarmhouse June 26, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    I also got surprisingly good sleep postpartum. The 4 month sleep regression is so hard! I was hesitant to give up the swaddling, but Isla actually started to sleep better again once she was “allowed” to roll over and sleep on her tummy. We had to continue to swaddle to GET her to sleep, and then just sort of carefully unswaddled when we put her down. We did this until about 8-9 months. We’re at 11 months now and seem to be going through another bit of a regression as she figures out walking – she just wants to be up and practicing all the time! I’m attempting to fight this one with scheduling.

    • littleapartment June 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

      I guess I’m going to try partial swaddling and see if it helps at all before we get rid of it altogether. I am really reluctant to see it go. It has been amazing for him.
      I remember it being rough when they can stand up in the crib!

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