4 month sleep regression? &/or teething?!

(6 Posts)
Bearberry Mon 29-Aug-16 11:05:19

Wondering if anyone can give me and advice or guidance regarding my 4 month (18 weeks) DD sleep...

She's ebf and has never been a great sleeper but recently nothing seems to keep her down. I realised around 4 weeks ago she was probably chronically over tired as she would rarely nap in the day and only sleep around 9hrs at night- waking 2 hrly for feeds. We co sleep with a cot which is flush to our bed, so she has her own wing of the bed so to speak. Meaning I can roll over and feed her led down then roll back over to my side of the bed, which optimises sleep as far as possible!

Over the last 4 weeks I've worked hard to get her into a routine of napping after 1.5-2 hrs awake. She will take her morning and sometimes second nap of the day in the cot (with white noise) the rest however are taken in the sling with me continuously walking her. She is fed to sleep at every nap. She will nap occasionally in the car seat, after a feed ( I time these car seat naps of course) but it's hard to get her down and she awakes as soon as car stops. All cot and car seat naps are 20-45 mins. I can keep her asleep for longer often in the sling, up to 2 hrs but I have to keep moving continuously - she knows if I stop of even 'fake walk'!!

Up until a week ago her bed time was around 10pm and from 9:15 ish she would doze on the boob in the lounge with us. She would sleep a 3-4 hour chunk (this is after I sorted the nap situ) before waking to feed every 2 hrs until waking at 8-9am. However around a week ago she started becoming very cranky and upset around 8pm, very hard to distract or console and giving all the signs she needs a sleep. So bedtime moved to 8pm ish and the sleep chunks there in remained the same, occasionally with a cheeky small feed when I came to bed around 10:30 thrown in. I finally felt like I had done something sleep related right - she had moved be time to a more appropriate time and was sleeping closer to 12 hrs at night (waking for feeds still of course) and napping for 3-4 hrs per day over 4 naps.

And of course it's now gone to pot! She is teething as well. First tooth has now broken through and second bud is visible under gum but not sure it's quite out yet... I've been giving her calpol before bed to help with this (tried teething rings and powders and gel too).

She will now fight most of her naps. It's takes between 30mins and 1 hr to get her down and she is rarely going past a 30 min nap even in sling. At night it takes at least an hour to settle her then she is waking every 30 mins. Just as I think she is dropping off she is ping awake again. She literally sleeps on my boob the whole night once she finally does go down (around 12) and is waking hourly.

I've tried her with numerous dummies over last 3 months intermittently and she won't accept any. She won't self soothe to sleep or when she awakes, if I don't comfort her with boob she will become more and more agitated until she just screams her head off. I don't want to do any form of controlled crying with her - not sure that's my cup of tea and she feels too young. I know I've probably made a rod for my own back with feeding to sleep but I'm feeling so stressed I don't know what to do. I've read about shhh pat and pick up and put down etc but I feel at the end of my tether as it is and like I have no mental (or physical!) capacity and I know she will be very resistant to a change in approach so to speak. Or I think she will and I'm too exhausted to pluck up the courage to try perhaps!

My DH works long hours and I'm pretty much doing 100% of child care. I feel very stressed with things at present and like my life is totally ruled by battling to get her to sleep for naps and at night. I know though if I give up she become very over tired and unhappy and inconsolable. I feel stuck between a wall and a hard place and it's really getting me down.

I'm happy to keep feeding her to sleep in principle, I just want her to actually go to sleep and stay that way for at least a couple of hours at night!

I guess what I'm asking is, is this 'normal'?! Is this the dreaded 4 month regression? Or the teething? Or both? Should I change approach or preserve and ride it out? Please help!!!!!

P.s sorry for absolute rambling and lengthy nature of this post, I felt like a lot of back story was necessary but it probably wasn't!

FATEdestiny Mon 29-Aug-16 13:15:50

It's takes between 30mins and 1 hr to get her down and she is rarely going past a 30 min nap even in sling. At night it takes at least an hour to settle her then she is waking every 30 mins.

I guess what I'm asking is, is this 'normal'?! Should I change approach or preserve and ride it out?

No, this isn't 'normal'. It sound very, very tough. You and your baby sound completely and utterly exhausted

Your baby is much less able to cope with this level of exhaustion than you are. A baby sleeping poorly unfortunately spirals - harder to get to sleep, less settled when asleep, light sleeping means they wake easily, worse quality sleep - so the net result is that a bad sleeper becomes a worse sleeper unless the over tiredness cycle is broken.

The opposite is true. So once you have a baby getting more sleep, they will be easier to get to sleep, will sleep more deeply and wake less easily. Good sleep promotes better sleep.

So, in your position I would go all-out focus on feeding and sleeping (a full tummy has a significant impact on sleep).

Short naps are normal at this age, you need to keep them frequent. A reasonable expectation at 4 months old would be 20-40 mins asleep followed by 30-60 mins awake. Repeated all day long. From waking right through until you go to bed.

20-40 mins asleep
30-60 mins awake
20-40 mins asleep
30-60 mins awake
20-40 mins asleep
30-60 mins awake... And so on

So, you say it's taking 30-60 mins to get baby to sleep and she is sleeping for 30 mins. This tells me that you need to pretty much be working on getting her back to sleep from when she wakes (until the OT cycle is broken and she starts settling to sleep more easily). It might be wake, nappy check, feed, cuddle, straight back to getting baby to sleep.

I would preserver with the dummy, it will be worth it. You may need to hold it in her mouth and gently tap it to get her sucking. It will fall out easily.

I'd suggest a bouncy chair (fisher price allows for easy foot bouncing while you sit yourself on the sofa with a cup of tea in hand) if baby likes movement to sleep.

You days will initially be focused entirely on feeding and sleeping, just accept that for now. You can 'do stuff' with your day once this is sorted.

Bearberry Mon 29-Aug-16 13:31:52

Thanks for your reply! flowers

I should clarify that this current level of crappy sleep is new. Once I had nailed the 4x 45 min nap she had been sleeping much better at night, doing a 4 hr stretch followed by 2 hrly waking. It was also easier to put her down, more like 10-30 mins to get her off to sleep.

It's the last week where things have gone to pot. She is taking much longer to get down and not napping for as long. And at night she keeps waking every half hour on average from 8:30pm till sat around 12:30-1am. Once she settles into sleep at that time she is waking every 1-2hrs.

She is also outright rejecting some naps occasionally and massively fighting them quite often. I've got a bouncy chair which she enjoys playing in but has never slept in, but then she rarely sleeps away from boob and no longer will nap on boob on sofa after a feed. Maybe I should try a different type of chair. I'm guessing maybe she is just really overtired still, thought I'd got her caught up with 3-4 hrs of naps a day and 12hrs of (feed interrupted) sleep at night but it seems not!

Any chance once this other tooth breaks through she will become a better or easier sleeper?!

FATEdestiny Mon 29-Aug-16 13:48:52

Calorific need massively jumps at around 4 months - could she be seeking to increase your supply and hunger be the cause of waking?

My youngest was formula fed by 4 months so I was able to physically see this increased hunger in a very clear way. She increased her milk intake by 25% - with both more milk per feed and more full feeds per day.

So a quarter extra per day is a massive amount. It will take some catching up with breastfeeding. If the change is new, maybe that's what it is?

Regarding teething, with my 4 children the only difficult times have been the few days of a tooth actually cutting through. The lead up to teeth cutting, in all honesty, I think it's just exhausted parents searching for a reason. In my practical experience you don't get weeks of pain or upset beforehand. Just 2 or 3 days of discomfort as they cut.

LapinR0se Mon 29-Aug-16 13:54:45

Agree with FATE that exhaustion is the main issue here.
If you can stop feeding to sleep you will see a huge improvement in the duration of naps and night time sleep

Bearberry Mon 29-Aug-16 14:16:13

One tooth has literally just cut through yesterday and the other one I can see as a bud but don't think is actually through yet so maybe that could explain this last week to some extent.

That's interesting about the feed increasing. I've found the last few weeks since I've introduced a routine her feeding has been less frequent and quicker. I've been offering the boob in between but she's been going around 2 hrs between most feeds whereas before she was quite the boob addict cluster feeder. Maybe she is making up this deficit at night now? I'll keep going with offering her feeds and increase the frequency there too if I can.

Will keep going with the naps and try and increase the frequency too.

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