Raising a baby is tough work, everybody knows that, but the rewards are priceless – that unadulterated, bedazzling smile that she beams every morning; the cherubic mirth on her face every time you open her diaper and there is a surprise waiting for you; the sheer joy she experiences when you splash warm water on her while bathing. These beautiful moments become permanent memories, your go-to memories, something that you’ll never forget.
But my baby doesn’t take much time for her transformation to complete from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde and these are moments you are more than willing to forget. It’s experiences like these that test your mettle as a parent. But what are these moments?
We are dealing with two concepts here, the first one is a growth spurt. Growth spurts happen starting from as soon as one week and go on till the first year.
As the name suggests, during a growth spurt the baby grows in weight, height and head circumference. This directly translates to an increase in her food intake. This is far more pronounced in breastfed babies as breast milk digests faster as opposed to formula. In this period the child tends to get fussy, irritable and downright cranky.
The second one is sleep regression – During this period it would seem that your child has magically forgotten how to fall asleep. She will hate naps, sleep for shorter hours and wake up regularly, especially at nights. Basically the baby starts behaving like an adult as far as sleep is concerned. We would fight sleep in our heydays to read a book, or be on the phone or watch TV right? Well that’s what’s happening to the baby.
Just do a basic search of these two words on any search engine and automatically the results will throw up “4-months” attached to the term. So clearly this is something all 4-month olds experience and various parents have described their harrowing experiences.
What’s worse? When growth spurt and sleep regression happen simultaneously.
As a parent this phase will test your patience and tolerance levels. The crying gets really out of hand and all the baby wants to do is cling to you. Feeding will not always help, nor will constant engagement. All the baby the wants is human touch. You’ll do it for a couple of days but after some time your body gives way and frustration sets in.
At one point you’ll probably start crying louder than the baby. There will be moments you wished you never had a child. You’ll start questioning your skills as a parent or why you became a parent in the first place. You will find yourself screaming at the baby or nobody in particular. You think you might have lost your mind. But please let me tell you that you are not alone. All parents go through this. This particular experience doesn’t make you an incompetent parent.
We are going through this phase ourselves. It’s been a week where we (mostly my wife) haven’t slept at night uninterrupted. Our daughter wakes up every two hours for a feed and then refuses to go back to sleep. After a lot of effort we got her used to sleeping all by ourselves we aren’t planning to throw that away.
We carry her for comfort, but we don’t walk with her. We kiss her head, but we don’t engage her. We pat her back, but we don’t play with her. After a while we put her back in the crib, she cries, she howls but eventually she does fall asleep. We make sure that the room is dark and we don’t give her any attention.
Initially this will be painful but it is just a matter of getting used to. From what I have read online, this is a temporary phase and it dies out. As parents we need to be strong and patient.
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