This time last year we were coming out the trenches of the 4-month sleep regression. We had been in it for a good 3-months, and I was delighted to finally be seeing the end of it. I’m not going to lie, it was 3-months of hell. 3-months of a couple of hours broken sleep a night. 3-months of reading every sleep book there is on sale on Amazon. 3-months of debating whether to do CIO (Cry It Out) or PUPD (Pick Up Put Down). I wrote two blogs on the subject at the time, and looking back at these, the key things for me were routine. I’m obviously no sleep expert, but I want to share my top tips on how we survived the 4-month sleep regression last year.
It will end
I promise it will end. It’s really important to keep perspective that being woken up every hour at night will stop. It’s hard to imagine or believe when you’re in it. However a year on and looking back at it now, it feels like another lifetime ago. It will end or at least it will become easier.
For me this was the crux, and one that we needed to change. Prior to the sleep regression I would feed our daughter to sleep, which was fine at the time. However when she was waking every hour at night it wasn’t possible (or was) possible to feed her every time she woke up. Having read many books I knew that she needed to go to bed awake, which meant a change in our routine. Instead of feeding to sleep, she would have a feed and then we would read a few books before going to bed. This meant that I was placing her in her gro-bag awake and putting her into her cot awake. It was tricky for the first couple of days, but eventually she got used to the new routine.
Learn to settle
This ties in nicely with “routine”. Our daughter had to learn to settle herself when she woke at night, to avoid the hourly waking and crying. I had to change my view of giving her a feed every time she woke, and instead tried to settle her with patting and shushing every other time she woke. This was time consuming especially at 3am when all you want is your own bed. However I had to get her out of the mindset of needing a feed to return to the land of nod. Slowly but surely this did start to work, and the night-time wakings slowly reduced.
Day time naps
I learnt that a good night-time sleep is aided by a good day-time nap routine. Our daughter was a terrible day-time sleeper, and would only sleep in the buggy. I eventually managed to get her to have 2 or 3 day-time naps in her cot, by patting and shushing her to sleep at set times during the day. I have no idea if this improved her night-time sleeping, but it certainly made the days easier without an overtired baby.
Lighten the load
During the 4-month sleep regression I was exhausted having somewhere between 2 – 4 hours of broken sleep a night. Try not to worry too much about household chores, as they can wait, and dinner can be purchased from a local takeaway. If friends and family can help, let them help, whilst you grab a few hours kip instead of doing the hoovering.
Having good friends who were also going through the same thing were a lifeline. It really helps to know that when you’ve been up 8 times in a night, someone else is going through it too, so you don’t feel alone. I found this a really helpful way to get things off my chest, and see how others were dealing with it too.
Coffee (and wine)
There is always coffee. During the 4-month sleep regression I started drinking coffee (it was also when I started my blog too). A little caffeine hit was great to kick start the day. When it was bad there was always wine or gin.
This was the last thing I did before our daughter started sleeping through at 10-months old. The moment we night weaned our daughter she slept through the night. I’m not saying that night weaning is an instant cure, but for us it seemed to work, or it could have been a coincidence.
Baby sleep is different for everyone, and we all have our own views on how we should help our child to sleep. It’s an awful experience when your child doesn’t sleep and you might feel like the only person in the world awake or experiencing frequent night wakings. I would like to say that it does get easier, and I hope it gets easier if you’re going through it.