Gin... and Other Ways I Survived Sleep Regressionby Claire Moran
If you’ve been through the four-month sleep regression or going through it you will know that it is a form of hell. Sleep deprivation is literally torture. I hated it, and I’m so sorry if you have a newborn baby who is sleeping well to jeopardise your illusions of having a baby who will continue to sleep through the night. Enjoy the days and the sleep whilst you can if this applies to you. I naively thought the same with both of my children, and the sleep regression hit me like a ton of bricks.
Let me tell you a little more about it.
It’s when the baby sleeps turns to adult sleep which often happens around the four-month stage. Suddenly their sleep cycles become much shorter and they find it hard to resettle once they come out of one, which leads to the frequent and sometimes hourly awakenings. Sometimes your child may be awake for a couple of hours during the night too. I used to find that both of mine were happy during this time, not crying, and having a party in their cot between 2am and 4am keeping you awake wondering if they will settle themselves or if you will have to intervene. Please don’t be alarmed not every baby experiences this, hopefully, it won’t happen to you, but if it does here are my top tips for how you can survive the dreaded 4-month sleep regression.
It will end
I promise you it will end. It’s really important to keep perspective that being woken up every hour at night will stop eventually. It’s hard to imagine or believe it when you’re in it. However looking back when we were stuck in the trenches of the 4-month sleep regression, it now feels like a lifetime ago. It will end or at least it will become easier.
For me, this was the crux or the start of the sleep regression. Prior to the sleep regression, I would feed our daughter to sleep, which was fine at the time. However, when she was waking every hour at night I would feed her back to sleep just to get back to sleep quickly myself. Having read many books I knew that she needed to go to bed awake, which meant a change in our routine. So instead of feeding my children to sleep, I would feed them and then read a few books together before going to bed, which meant that I was putting them into their cot awake. It was tricky for the first couple of days, but eventually, they got used to the new routine and slowly started to settle themselves.
Learn to settle
This ties in nicely with “routine”. I know that both of my children had to learn to settle themselves when they woke at night, avoiding that hourly waking and crying. So I had to change my view of giving them a feed every time they woke, and instead tried to settle them with patting and shushing every time they woke. At first, this was really time-consuming especially at 3am when all you want is your own bed. However all it took was a couple of nights doing this and eventually, they slept through the night. At the time it seemed like a hard task to do this, but the rewards are huge, you get to SLEEP!
Day time naps
During this time I learned that good nighttime sleep is aided by a good daytime nap routine. Before the sleep regression, both of my kids were not great daytime sleepers, often having really short naps or only sleeping in the buggy. Eventually, I managed to get both of my kids to sleep during the day at set times by starting with the patting and shushing technique, a similar technique for getting them to sleep at night. I also found a good daytime nap routine to be so useful, as you will know when you can have that little bit of time for yourself to get things done or to sleep yourself.
Lighten the load
During the four-month sleep regression, I was so exhausted with only having somewhere between two to four hours of broken sleep a night. Try not to worry too much about household chores they can wait, and dinner can be purchased from a local takeaway. If friends and family can help, let them help, whilst you grab a few hours kip instead of doing the hoovering.
Having good friends who were also going through the same thing was a lifeline to me. It really helps to know that when you’ve been up 8 times in a night someone else is also going through it so you don’t feel alone. I found this a really helpful way to get things off my chest and see how others were dealing with it too.
Coffee (and wine or gin)
There is always coffee. During the four-month sleep regression, you may want to drink all the coffee you can, or start drinking coffee like I did. A little caffeine hit was a great way to kick start the day, and when it was bad there was always wine or gin for later on in the day. Just don’t forget to drink loads of water as this will help to ease that awful sluggish foggy feeling.
This was the last thing I did before both my daughter and son started sleeping through the night, and when I stopped night feeding they slept through. Hallelujah!!! I’m not saying that night weaning is an instant cure, but for us, it seemed to work, or it could have been a coincidence.
Please remember that baby sleep is different for everyone, and we all have our own views on how we should help our children sleep. It’s an awful experience when your child doesn’t sleep and you might feel like the only person in the world awake or experiencing frequent night wakings. I would like to say that it does get easier, and I hope it gets easier if you’re going through it.