I had read about it, this thing called sleep regression. I heard rumors of it happening around the four month mark, but was optimistic that the O Man would sail right by it.
Ha. Hardy har har.
There’s a ton of definitions about how long constitutes sleeping through the night at this age, but there’s a general consensus that a 5+ hour stretch before eating is pretty good. Up until about a week ago, we were doing just that. Even more, actually. I’m hiding under the table whispering this…but we actually had some seven and nine hour nights in a row. Sure, I woke up panicked and engorged at 4 a.m., but in a really blissful way. And truth be told, I got used to sleeping more than three hours at a time.
I got used to it real quick.
Then a couple of nights ago, it was a five hour stretch. Then the next night, it was three. And now we’re back to waking almost every hour and a half after 11 p.m. and guys….I AM SO TIRED. I’m dragging myself out of bed each morning and self-medicating with budget-busting chai purchases. And I can’t be mad at him, because he’s four months and is not purposely trying to drain me of all sanity. At least, I don’t think so.
I’ve read the books. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child sits on my nightstand with dog-eared pages. I believe the teaching that sleep begets sleep and have worked diligently to get him on a bath-book-massage-boob bedtime routine. When he would only sleep in a swing and I asked you guys for sleep advice, you all reassured me that I needed to relax because he would eventually give up the swing for the crib (he did) and to try and adopt the this-too-shall-pass mentality.
So I’m trying, again. I mean, I get it. He’s learning new skills that make his brain work overtime. His sleep patterns are starting to mimic those of an adult’s, but he hasn’t yet mastered soothing himself back to sleep all the time. And on top of that, he’s teething, so we have a whole grab bag of fun to work with.
Usually somewhere between 4 and 5 a.m., I bring him in bed with us to nurse lying down and get a couple extra Z’s. While I’m not anti-cosleeping, it’s not something I wanted to do exclusively, as while dad and baby snooze just fine, I sleep lightly, constantly checking to make sure the covers aren’t close to his face and because of that, I’m always freezing because the days of snuggling under my down comforter are long gone.
At his four month appointment, he clocked in at 27 inches and just under 20 pounds. The kid is in the 97th percentile and eats like a champ. We’ve decided to wait on all solids, including rice cereal, until he is six months. He’s definitely a boob man, and he wants it all night long, even if he’s not hungry. He’s using me as a human pacifier to fall back asleep. (And no, he won’t take a real pacifier, because that would just be too easy, now woudn’t it?)
Ladies and gentlemen, we are ready for sleep training.
I’ve been resistant to full-on doing it until now because I really felt he was too young, but it’s time. He’s shown he can sleep for longer stretches and the pediatrician says that at his size, he can absolutely go five (or more) hours at night without eating. I’ve dabbled in it here and there, and always wait a few minutes when he wakes at night to see if he can settle himself back down. Sometimes he can. More than often, he can’t. He’ll be screaming like a banshee until I walk into the room, where I swear he smiles, winks and laughs to himself.
So I get up. At 11, at 1:15, at 3, 4 and 5:30. I soothe and nurse and while I truly love the quiet moments nursing my sweet baby boy, I’d love it even more at say, just 2:30. Or just 4.
Out of all the sleep training methods I’ve read up on, I’m most comfortable with doing a modified version of the Ferber method. If you want to know all about it there are tons of websites, but it involves letting him cry for short periods of time before going in to soothe him. This is of course assuming that nothing else is bothering him (pinching clothes, soiled diaper, actually time to eat) and that he’s not sick.
I’ve heard from fellow mothers that in anywhere from 3 days to one week, their babies really got it and they were blessed with better sleep until the next growth spurt/illness/what-have-you. I know there is no recipe for a perfect night’s sleep — especially at this age — but there has got to be better than what we have now, which is basically the sleep pattern of a newborn!
I’ll let you know how it goes, and I welcome feedback and stories of personal experience; just none of this “your child will hate you forever because you let him cry alone for 10 whole minutes you horrible, horrible mother” stuff. I’ll be telling that to myself when I’m lying in bed on my hands forcefully willing myself not to get up for another six minutes because OOOH THE CRYING.