Day 111 | Surviving the Four Month Sleep Regression

This post has been a long time coming. At three months, Robbe went from a 5-6 hour first stretch to waking up every 1.5-2 hours.  I tried to stay status quo with our sleep strategy (no feeding until that 5-6 hour mark, rocking back to sleep, etc), but after five weeks (looking back...crazy!) I woke up one morning and just snapped.  Something had to change and I came up with a plan.

I'm happy to report that after a bit of a setback last week (thanks to Robbe's first cold), we've finally settled into a good stretch again. At this point, he's doing a 7.5-9 hour first sleep stretch (he wakes up just once to eat and goes back down for another several hours).  I've been hesitant to write anything about this upswing (I'm a big believer in jinxing) but at some point I have to be optimistic that we have officially survived the four month sleep regression.

He put up one heck of a fight along the way, but this is what I did to finally snap Robbe out of the 1.5-2 hour wakings that occurred for far too long:
  •  No more swaddle.  Cold turkey.  No looking back.
  • No more using the chair as a crutch.  For naps or bedtime.
  • Moved bedtime up from 9:30pm to 8:00pm (and now, closer to 7:45pm).  The later bedtime worked when he was a little guy, but not anymore.
  • Started letting him cry...just a bit.  It started with one morning nap.  I went in after five minutes of crying. Then I was going to let him go 10 more minutes.  He cried for eight and then fell asleep.  And he hasn't looked back since. Now, if he cries, it's for only a couple minutes max. I also give this ten minute buffer in the middle of the night if he wakes up before it's time to eat. More often than not, he falls back to sleep (by himself!) before the 10 minutes is up.
  • More morning naps at home. It's not always possible to be home long enough in the morning for Robbe to sleep in his own crib. I also have to keep our toddler occupied, right? My goal is to let him sleep at home at least a few times a week.  It doesn't seem to make much of an impact on his afternoon nap either way or his night sleeps, but regardless it's good for him.
  • Tummy time. In the middle of this strategy shift, Robbe started rolling over from back to tummy. I would put him down on his back but once he got worked up enough, he would flip over then fall right asleep.  I took this as nature's way of telling me he was ready to start sleeping on his tummy. What a difference!
 It took about a week of this strategy to really turn the corner but it felt different immediately.  I could tell we were making progress right from the start.  He needed to teach himself how to fall asleep and that's what I wasn't teaching him how to do. I thought he was too young to let cry but, honestly, I didn't see any other option at the end.  And the outcome (such a short cry-time right off the bat) confirmed that we (I use I a lot in this post, but make no mistake, Chris was by my side throughout this madness) made the right choice.

I'm not writing this as any fool-proof survival guide but it worked for us.  Mostly, I just wanted to chronicle my journey through this terribly difficult time just in case I have a friend that's going through a similar challenge in the future.

Have we conquered the last of Robbe's sleep problems? Probably not. Is it all smooth sailing on the child-rearing front from here on out?  Definitely no.  Do I feel a ton of relief knowing that we managed to cross this first major hurdle.  Darn right.