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Sleep regression - What to do!

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

Potete leggere questo articolo in Italiano qui.

How many of you knew about sleep regression before getting pregnant? Don’t worry, I did not!

When I was pregnant, I read the book “The Good Sleeper” by Dr. Jannet Kennedy. As the baby comes without instructions 😊, I just wanted to know how to handle the sleep issues with my baby. It helped me a lot creating a routine for my baby, teaching him how to sleep and therefore to be well rested (have a look at my post about how to teach a baby to sleep well here: first part and second part ).

In this book I found out that during the first 2 years there could be some derailments in the sleep pattern due to illness, teething and developmental milestones. At that point I said to myself that it was too early to read more about these derailments: there would be enough time to read about it, right?! Well, in the end I had no time to read after he was born.

Until my baby was 4 months old, he was a good sleeper. He was napping and sleeping well! What a lucky mom I was!

Then 4 months knocked on the door and the things changed from day to day. Luckily, my baby was still sleeping well during the night but he was totally refusing to sleep during the day. Better said, he was not able to fall asleep anymore and he was tired and fussy.

The first 2 days I kept him in my arms or in the baby carrier during his sleep, otherwise he would not sleep at all, and I had to rock him like crazy. Then, even if he was used to sleep in his carrycot, all of a sudden he started refusing to be placed there. I felt that those days were not passing by. It was stressful, I was tired! Then I remembered those “derailments”.

I started looking for information about sleeping issues for a 4-month baby, as you are probably doing right now. I found out about the “sleep regression”. I decided that I needed to start reading again because now I had to understand what it was all about.

A sleep regression is a period when a baby, who has been sleeping well until that time, starts not doing it anymore. This depends on the fact that the baby’s brain is evolving. On one hand, as parents we should be happy, on the other we must admit that this period is tough.

Another reason this happens exactly at 4 months is that the baby undergoes some sleep cycle changes (you will find more info about it on SleepFoundation.org http://bit.ly/3bIU74d).

The length of the sleep regression depends on the baby, it can last one week as well as 2 months. Most of the times the sleeping problems will be encountered during the night time, but in our case they were during the day naps. Maybe because he had a well established routine for the night time sleep? Who knows, it might be.

My son’s sleep regression lasted 4 weeks. After that period I noticed that, even if it was still difficult for him to fall sleep, he was calmer and his naps were lasting more.

The main differences that I notices, between baby’s sleep before and during the sleep regression:

What I did during this period? First of all I must say that for me it was a tough, very tough. But yet, I decided to do the following:

  • To be sure that my baby was not hungry;

  • To stay calm. When I was super tired and not in perfect mood, due to the fact that my baby was crying tirelessly as he was unable to fall asleep, I placed him in his crib and left the room for a couple of minutes to drink a glass of water (cried sometimes, too) and then returned to him fresh and ready to start all over again. The baby feels when his mother is agitated and stressed and so he will act exactly as you do;

  • I went out often for a walk with him in the carrier and he usually fell asleep immediately and slept blissfully;

  • When I was not able to go out, I placed him in the carrycot and had a walk on the balcony or terrace until he fell asleep.

I scheduled my walkings / outings based on his naps. In this way, even if I was super tired 😊, he was well rested and slept very well during the night time.

One other thing I tried to respect was to let him nap at home in the crib at least once a day. As for the babies it is easier to sleep in the morning, this was the time when he was napping at home.

After those 4 weeks, somehow everything returned to normal and I started sleep-training my baby (please check my post about how I taught my baby to sleep well and how I sleep-trained him: first part and second part).

Remember that all difficult periods pass by and other will take their place. So keep your calm and enjoy your motherhood!


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