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Free Falling Through Life and Motherhood

4 Month Sleep Regression, A Survivor’s Story.

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Something nobody tells you about is your child’s 4 month sleep regression. If you’ve read my writings on the time we took our 3 month old, first born away on a group ski trip, you’ll be familiar with this time in my life. I was suffering from something I now call, “post natal madness”.

We’d battled through getting our tongue tied baby well established on the boob. we’d mastered the timing of showering and eating during nap times so that both could be done in a day. We’d figured out the perfect bed time in order for us to get the most number of hours of unbroken sleep. Things were just getting easier. And, right at this point, with a 3.5 month old baby, we got on a flight to the Alps with a group of childless friends. (I wrote my tips for skiing with a baby here)

The chalet was a dream. Cosy, warm and a delightful little cot in the corner of our room. We settled baby night one and he was out like a light. Perfect, we thought. With hindsight, the poor kid was drained. He had barely slept for a day with the excitement of airports and aeroplanes to stimulate him. Nights 2 to 6 were increasingly less restful and by the time we got home the baby was waking 3 times every night. Something we hadn’t known since he was 3 weeks old. We’d well and truly fucked it, I thought!

After 4 weeks of disrupted sleep I was getting desperate. I turned to the oracle, source of any answer, What I want to know here is, why do you sick people, who’ve had kids before, not warn us first time mums about the 4 month sleep regression? It’s a real, exhausting, thing. That nobody tells you about beforehand.

I spent 4 weeks thinking I was a terrible parent. That I’d sacrificed my child’s development for a holiday. I’d pushed my kid too far, too soon. Even then, NOBODY TOLD ME ABOUT SLEEP REGRESSIONS! Apparently they happen again at 8 and 18 months. We didn’t notice the 8 month regression if it happened and haven’t reached 18 months yet. But, the one at 4 months was a killer. Moreso when it hits you unexpected.

We came out the other side and although I’m no expert, I’ll leave you with this survivor’s advice.

  • Stick to the program. You know your baby’s bed time. You know your baby’s nap time. You’ve figured out what you need to do to help them relax. They may try to convince you, you’re wrong. But, stick to it.
  • Make your plans fit in around your baby’s ideal sleep schedule. Factor in nap times when making plans for brunch or coffee.
  • Don”t be too quick to react. Obviously, I’m not saying to ignore your kid… well, not for too long. Sometimes they’ll cry for a bit for the hell of it and jumping to be at their side can disturb them more.
  • Introduce sleepovers. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to take up the offer of an overnight stay at the grandparents. You need your sleep just as much as baby if you’re going to get through this sleep regression with your sanity.

Ultimately, just remember this torment is temporary. You will get through it. And, I have to assume based on the fact that nobody goes on about it, you must forget about it too. It might not matter how hard you try, your baby still might do their best to make you cry and wake six times a night. Just do your best. Remember you can punish them with early morning wake-ups when they’re a teenager.