Diary of a First Time Mom: How We Survived the 4 Month Sleep Regression
The first piece of advice any new parent usually gives to an expecting parent is "SLEEP AS MUCH AS YOU CAN BEFORE THE BABY COMES" and I used to roll my eyes at this all the time (still do). I don't think there is any amount of "pre-baby" sleep you can get that will prepare you for the sleep deprivation zombie mode of being a new parent. Matthew and I took a sleep class and followed all of the guidelines down to the "T" to make sure we were setting Amira up for sleep success from day one. We were amazed when she started sleeping 5 hours, 6 hours, then 8 hour stretches at night it was AMAZING! We had her napping schedule down perfectly and her bedtime routine was working so well for us which felt awesome. Then once she turned 3.5 months old EVERYTHING WENT FLYING OUT OF THE WINDOW.
I remember the day her sleep regression hit VIVIDLY. It was the day after thanksgiving and she went to bed at her usual time with her usual routine and then out of nowhere she was up every SINGLE hour. I wasn't prepared for it AT ALL and no amount of bouncing, rocking, nursing, or white noise was going to get our baby back to sleep. The worst of it went on for about a week but the majority of the regression lasted about 5 weeks. YUP you read that correctly FIVE WEEKS, we didn't get a proper stretch of sleep until CHRISTMAS.
Thinking back now and trying to write exactly what happen during those 5 weeks is almost impossible because I feel like I blacked out during it. I've never been so sleep deprived in my entire life and I truly felt like I was permanently hungover. Matt and I were in pure survival mode and taking it day by day because we truly thought the sleep deprivation was going to last forever. It wasn't easy to get through by any means and we're still dealing with some sleep issues that stemmed from the regression. Her usual 1-2 hour nap turned into 30-45 minutes and she still struggles with getting back to sleep on her own when she wakes during the night but we're working on it. I'm so glad the worst is over (coffee and baby smiles helped push me through)!
Here's what we did to get through the 4 month sleep regression!
Kept her in her crib
Moments like this make you want to just bust out the good old rock and play and call it a night. I knew that If I did that it would be harder for me to get her back to sleeping in her crib again. So I stayed strong and continued having her sleep in her crib at night!
Bought blackout curtains
I didn't realize how much light our curtains were letting into our our bedroom so I had to order blackout curtains IMMEDIATELY to help her stay asleep. I read that keeping the room "cave like" helps babies transfer sleep cycles much easier. Amazon prime to the rescue!
Even though Amira was showing signs of disliking her swaddle when her regression hit, she still couldn't sleep without it! So we decided to keep her swaddled with both arms in overnight and work on transitioning her (one arm out at a time) for naps! Since she can't roll from her back to her front yet it's totally okay to continue swaddling past 4 months and it helps her sleep for long stretches.
Continued bed time routine
I think it's so powerful to have a dedicated bedtime routine for your baby and to try and stick to it daily. It helps signal that it's time for bed and helps them to relax! We continued her routine religiously and didn't waver!
Bed time between 7-8pm no matter what
Amira's bedtime has always been between 7-8pm since birth and I wasn't going to experiment with it because of her regression. I didn't let any dinners, family functions, or anything interfere with us getting home for her bedtime. Looking back I was so firm on this (still am) because I wasn't getting any rest and pushing out her bedtime would mean that we would be sacrificing sleep for ourselves.
Moved her to her own room.
THIS WAS SO HARD FOR ME. I wanted to keep Amira in our bedroom up until the 6 month mark that was suggested by our pediatrician but we had to move her to her room at the end of her regression. It felt like we legit had her entire nursery in our bedroom at one point during those 5 weeks which obviously wasn't ideal. She went from being such a deep sleeper to a light sleeper which made getting into our bed without making noise a challenge. Also, my husband is such a noisey sleeper to the point where it felt like every breath or movement he made was waking her up. This caused some tension and no one was sleepinng comfortably because we were so scared of waking up the baby. It was so bittersweet making the decision to move her into her own room and I cried over it but she's been doing SO WELL now and everyone is resting much better.
Thankfully sleep regressions are developmental and do not last forever! If you have any tips for how you got through it, share in the comments below!