Sleep Regression – A monster in the making

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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29 thoughts on “Sleep Regression – A monster in the making

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  1. I feel your pain! Our little one is going through the 4month sleep regression too and is point blank refusing to nap at the moment combined with endless wakings at night, when he used to be a fantastic sleeper! Hang on in there, it’ll soon be over (or so I’m led to believe!) 🙂

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  2. I feel for you guys! And yes it will pass, even though you feel as though you are in a pit looking up at a very dark climb! Great advice about the getting up in the middle of the night. I always kept it ‘night’. Low lighting, soft voices, no engaging and back to bed as quickly as possible. Day time was a different kind of interaction. This worked very well for five children. Hang in there guys! the rewards far out weigh the struggles now…really!!!

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  3. I think I’m definitely headed into this time. I notice that he seems more frustrated lately and he wakes up crying for no reason, even if I just fed him an hour ago. Gah lee. Makes me feel bad but I know this is just a phase. I mean he’s never been a very good sleeper anyways but we just got him sleeping in 4 hour stretches. Now he’s back to 2 and sometimes 1 hour. All I can do is pray. Lol.

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  4. Cosleeping saved the sanity of everyone in my home! Keep loving on your baby and making sure she feels secure. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong for holding, cuddling, comforting your baby. As hard as it is for us, it’s twice as hard for them. Hang in there, dad! We all make it out somehow lol

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  5. Hi there, I enjoyed reading this article. It is so very real and a true experience for most or all parents. I have two children and the experience with them was very different. My first born slept in her own bed straight away and slept 12 hour nights and had long naps. I fed on demand instead of waking her and that worked well for me. I did lose sleep and go through the emotions of being a first time mum etc but it wasn’t too bad.

    My son however refused to sleep in his own bed and it took me 6 weeks of constant trying to get him to stay there. He was a very hungry baby so didn’t sleep as much as my daughter did. I found that a consistent routine, bath, songs, keeping on track for naps/bedtime and a fairly dark room worked really well. Comforting without removing my babies from their bed, reassuring them that I was there and it’s okay but reinforcing that it was bed time worked well. Of course there were times with crying but persistence did pay off.

    I chose not to co-sleep so that it wouldn’t be an issue later on but every child and parent is different. You’re doing really well, keep going! It will all soon be distant memory. Such a joy being a parent to such beautiful gifts even when the experience is sometimes dreadful! 😂

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    1. Thank you for taking the time out and writing. It really does mean a lot. Parenting is such a thankless task but we do it because we are naturally driven to do it. We care for our children and that’s that. Hope 2017 is kind to us and our babies. Happy New Year!

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  6. Oh gosh… This is so trying; I really feel for you guys. Sleep deprivation is the worst! And for the baby it becomes a vicious cycle because sleep begets sleep.

    Have you researched the Wonder Weeks? I found that calendar helps to sort of predict the “stormy periods” and help you know when it should end. It gives you some tips on how to manage your baby’s changes during the Wonder Weeks (the book does).

    Rest assured these rough periods do end! Just keep giving your baby love and reassurance and keep up the good and consistent habits.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am glad to be reading this ahead of what sounds like an inevitable experience. We are only in the early days of baby and sleep is already a distant memory. But we are hanging in there. Crazy how a couple extra minutes of sleep can seem like forever, but then wear off so quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my …My little one learned sleeping in his crib until he unlearnt it and will only sleep with us. The little genius sleeps in his crib until 1am and then will not sleep in his crib at any cost. An hour of wailing took its toll and now he spends half the night in his crib the rest in our bed..Which means I’m awake and watching him like a hawk lol

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think it’s too bad just that as a parent we tend to fear the thought of accidentally squishing our lil critter…lol… Although I would say if your child sleeps in his/her crib stick with it…Once they co-sleep…It’s the end of sleeping on their own

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