I am writing this post through tired, no… exhausted, eyes because I have just come out of the 4 month sleep regression. I honestly didn’t think I would make it. That may sound extreme but 8 weeks straight of waking up every 1-2 hours at night, and only 30 minute naps during the day makes you feel like you’re going crazy. Oh, and on top of that, he cut two teeth at the same time… Yikes!
I could tell you that “it will pass“, “it’s just a phase“, “they’ll go back to sleeping better soon” but honestly, hearing these things were zero help to me. “Grab a glass of wine” helped more than anything!
I am by myself with Rhys during the week and do 90% of the night wake ups with him, so I needed solid solutions to avoid losing my mind. After months of trial and error, I am here with the tips that help me the most to survive the sleep regression.
Start a routine.
I had always followed Rhys’ lead when it came to taking care of him. He was fed on demand, napped when he wanted (and where he wanted) and bedtime was around 9 pm but varied depending on his mood each day. That was, until he turned 3.5 months and everything went out the window. He never fell asleep on his own, he was eating 24/7 and he was no longer sleeping through the night.
I knew that this meant I’d have to get him on a routine. So I started doing the same thing every time I put him down for a nap. I’d change his diaper, swaddle him (you can see the swaddle we used here), place him in his crib with a soother, and turn on the white noise machine. After a couple of days he began to associate this with nap time. The first couple of days he fought it, but it didn’t take long before he got excited as I swaddled him and was asleep in minutes because he knew what was coming.
Just as we formed a routine for naps, we also started a routine for bedtime. We would give him a bath, put him in his pajamas and swaddle him, then give him a bottle (Read more on my favorite bottle) until he fell asleep. Not everyone agrees with feeding your baby to sleep but it was something that worked well for us so we stuck with it.
Be aware of wake times and keep a consistent bedtime.
Once I realized we were in the sleep regression I started timing his awake time. For Rhys, 1.5 hours was the sweet spot for putting him down for a nap. Nine times out of ten he went down without a fuss and would be asleep within minutes of being put down. If I missed this window, it was game over. There are lots of resources online that will tell you how long your baby should be awake for based on their age. That mixed with some trial and error, you’ll find your own child’s sweet spot for going down for a nap. For some helpful cues, look for rubbing the eyes, slower movements, becoming fussier, and the glazed over look. Once you notice these signs, get that child to bed!
We moved his bedtime from around 9 pm to starting his routine anywhere between 6:30-7:30 pm because this meant he was almost always in bed by 7:30 pm. We knew this was a good time for us to put him to bed because he was consistently napping at this time. Once we made these changes he started sleeping significantly better. Contrary to popular belief, over tired babies don’t actually sleep better.
Sleep when baby sleeps.
People told me this so many times before, and then after, I had Rhys. It took me months to realize how important this statement was. It becomes even more important when you are going through a sleep regression. Even if you are only able to close your eyes for 15 minutes, it is better then nothing. Don’t push yourself during this time. It will pass and you’ll get your life back but you need to take it easy while you get through this phase. Find a healthy balance that allows you to recoup from the lack of sleep and still feel productive in your day. Your baby needs you at your best, and that happens by taking care of yourself!
Now, let me reassure you that this will pass, it does get better, and you will get your nights back!
Everything is a phase.
Start up the coffee maker and find a good Netflix show to binge watch until things level out again.
Good luck, Mama.
Talk soon xoxo