After weeks of sleeping a solid 10+ hours every single night, suddenly your soon-to-be 4-month-old decides 1 a.m., 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. are prime times to wake up and stay up. He seems perfectly fine with this arrangement and you, well, you’re a zombie for days on end. Welcome to the 4 Month Sleep Regression.
According to the Baby Sleep Site, this happens because baby’s brain is maturing and his sleep cycles are changing. Although I can’t be certain of the site’s scientific accuracy, it’s one of the only places I can find an actual explanation for this occurrence. Despite being one of few for an explanation, it falls really short on tips for how to get through this. It offers swaddles, pacifiers, swings and dream feeds as your best options and, quite frankly, I call bull. Those aren’t options for help getting through this phase, those are basic soothing techniques that are only helpful if they work on your baby in general.
This post is unfortunately not an advice piece. I don’t have the answers and I’m currently living this regression. Zay goes down around 7 every night in his crib (but sometimes even that is unpredictable lately) and is up, without fail, every morning at 1:30 a.m. wanting to eat. Sometimes he goes right back to sleep, but most times he’s up for 1-2 hours, either way we are both awake again at 5 a.m. This doesn’t seem horrible at first glance because he’s only getting up once before my usual wake up time, but this isn’t actually the case. You see he’s also waking himself up around 11:30 p.m. with his ability to scoot and roll over, right as I’m laying down or sometimes just minutes after I’ve fallen asleep. He will scoot himself from the bottom of the crib all the way until his face is crammed in the top corner. When he isn’t squishing his face, he rolls himself onto his back, in which case he wakes himself up with flailing limbs. Now he will typically go right back to sleep with some rocking, but not if I put him back into the crib. When I say I’m exhausted, I mean I am exhausted and am willing to try anything.
I’ve tried the Baby Sleep Site’s suggestions, and I’ll debunk them one by one:
Swaddles – Good joke. My son Hulks his way out of even the tightest swaddles within seconds of being wrapped. Even if he is unable to break free, he will scream until you let him out.
Pacifiers – Zay has his paci in 80 percent of the time. This includes both sleep and wake time so he’s already sucking on one during our lack-of-sleep nights. Can’t give him what he’s already got.
Swings – He stays calm in the swing, but stays awake. He’s content for about 25-35 minutes before he starts whining to get out. This helps me get one more catnap in, but doesn’t solve our issue.
Dream Feeds – The site suggests feeding the baby once more right before you go to bed (while he is still asleep) in hopes he will be satisfied enough to go the remainder of the night. Now I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong when I attempt this, but Zay wakes up completely each time I do. Once he’s up, he’s awake for 2 hours and then STILL wakes up once in the middle of the night.
What is working for us now, and by working I mean we have minimal awake time between sleep stretches but we still wake up every few hours, is taking a bottle when he wakes up on his own. I keep an 8 oz bottle of breast milk on my nightstand and give it to him when he begins stirring at 1 a.m. He will take 3-4 oz then doze right off again. When he fusses again in roughly 3 or so hours, I give him the bottle again until he calms. This isn’t a routine I want to get accustomed to. This isn’t a routine I’m happy with.
So my question to you is: What else can I do? How long does this regression last and why does it feel like we’ve been living it for. ev. er? Please help me and Zay get some sleep. Any and all suggestions are welcome.
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