I'm so confused - 14 weeks old - 4 month regression, awake windows/number of naps & length... Help!

(8 Posts)
moonriver32 Mon 28-Dec-20 10:47:08

I have a 14 week old DS (was born 2 weeks late so I guess adjusted age 16 weeks) and he has never been a great sleeper but we seem to have hit the dreaded 4 month sleep regression, as in the last week his sleep has been horrific - waking all night, for example last night he was up 7 times between 7.30pm and 6am.

We try to keep his awake windows to 90 minutes as he gets grouchy towards the end of this period so definitely in need of a nap. However I keep reading that he should have 3-4 naps a day at this age, and that 30-40 minute naps can be normal at this age. How can both be true? If he had, say, a 45 minute nap every 1.5 hours, surely he'd end up having 6 naps over the course of the day?

We are on our knees with lack of sleep and are wondering whether to start some sort of gentle sleep training method like PU/PD. He currently will only go to sleep rocked/patted, or fed (he is bf) and during the day will only nap on me. Its a nightmare and we know we need to get him to self settle but have no idea how to start. He is a very sensitive, high needs baby who goes from 0 to hysterical in the blink of an eye. We are not interested in controlled crying whatsoever.

Prior to the last week or so he would sleep 7pm - 9pm downstairs with us then come up to bed with us and do a 4 or 5 hour stint of sleep before being awake lots the rest of the night. We thought this was bad but now we long for this amount of sleep!

If anyone has any advice on the awake windows/number and length of naps/how to get him to self settle I would be forever grateful.

Thank you!

OP’s posts: |
moonriver32 Mon 28-Dec-20 10:47:42

Is @FATEdestiny still around nowadays?

OP’s posts: |
FATEdestiny Mon 28-Dec-20 13:24:32

I am smile

Firstly, as a general rule your awake window wants to be double the nap length, give or take 15 mins or so. Focus more on awake windows at this stage, not number of naps per day. The change to 3 ridged-timed naps per day comes once your getting longer naps over an hour.

We try to keep his awake windows to 90 minutes as he gets grouchy towards the end of this period

If he's grouchy, reduce awake window. If naps are 30mins for example, your awake window wants to be around 1h but could be as little as 45 mins awake (if, for example, baby is having several very short naps or had a bad night then awake window might be at the lower end).

The bottom line is more sleep is better sleep. A well rested baby finds it easier to get to sleep and easier to stay asleep for longer. So while naps might be short, keep them very frequent and baby will find it easier to learn good sleep habits.

He currently will only go to sleep rocked/patted, or fed (he is bf) and during the day will only nap on me

This is your bigger issue, moreso than naptime awake windows.

Needing movement, sucking amd cuddling to get to sleep are normal forms of comfort for baby. Instead of thinking you can train baby to not need the comfort - imo it's better (kinder, gentler) to give these same comforts in ways that promote independant sleep (rather than being dependant on you) rather than not at all. Then over time, reduce dependant on these independant comforts.

I would introduce a dummy for going to sleep and then feed upon waking rather than going to sleep.

I would utilise naps in something that moves for daytime naps (along with dummy). So bouncy chair or pram. This slows for learning to be put down awake and going to sleep in the place baby stays asleep - with the help of sucking and movement of bouncer/pram.

At night your best tools are dummy, swaddle and sidecar cot. The sidecar cot allows you to cuddle in close to settle baby without lifting from the cot. The dummy for comfort sucking (and sidecar cot allows you to be right there for dummy replacement) so that baby goes to sleep in the cot rather than in your arms being fed. Swaddle must have been established before 3 months for safe sleep safety. It recreates the tightly held feeling of security for baby and makes putting baby down after a night feed much easier.

moonriver32 Mon 28-Dec-20 13:48:31

Hello @FATEdestiny - Thank you so much.

So, to add extra info - he does have a dummy that we only use for sleep time, this is one of his sleep associations. So we usually do a combination of dummy in, rocked in my arms while patting on the back. This gets him off to sleep really quickly. Up until the last week or so he can do naps of up to an hour and a half as long as he's on me and I can rock/pat him when I notice him stirring. But he's started to fight this a lot harder since we hit this "regression" that I think we've reached.

The only time he's fed to sleep is for his bedtime at night - I'm not sure why to be honest, it just worked nicely when he was tiny.

He sleeps (or doesn't haha) in a Snuzpod bedside crib at night and we always swaddled him when bhe was tiny but is now in a Grobag sleeping bag that allows for arms to still be in. I feel that as the night goes on he gets frustrated with his arms being inside but I know that he will wake himself up with his arms out. But at the same time I also know that we won't be able to keep his arms in much longer once rolling starts! So I'm in a right quandary about what to do.

I've actually come across your posts before and so have tried getting him to sleep in the bouncy chair with the dummy - he just won't have any of it and looks at me like I'm mad whilst constantly spitting the dummy out. Re: pram, he will eventually fall asleep in that if rocked (or we're out walking) but wakes up as soon as the motion stops. I've never been able to leave him in the pram once we get home - his eyes ping open the moment we stop moving.

I really really want to get him to sleep in the same place he wakes up, gently. But feel that he's had 3 solid months of being rocked and is going to be hysterical if he can see me and I'm not picking him up.

What would you try to do to settle him in the cot? I do try this during the night and he gets more and more upset and thrashes around, then will cry until he is picked up. No amount of dummy replacing, shushing or patting seems to do the job! I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong there but it's clearly something!

OP’s posts: |
FATEdestiny Mon 28-Dec-20 14:28:51

What would you try to do to settle him in the cot?

Firstly - it's normal that sleep goes pear-shaped at around 4 months so don't beat yourself up with ideas that something is wrong. Just accept that sleep will go backwards, work towards good sleep habits, accept that sleep might be rubbish for a while but trust in your longer term view that developing good sleep habits will work in the end.

At night, always try to resettle rather than feed and try to seperate feeding and sleeping with an upright wind and put down to settle in cot (rather than feeding to sleep). My night time wake routine would be:

- baby wakes (in bedside cot)
- Scoot across your bed so your torso is in with baby, dummy in, tapping dummy and cuddle close, patting if needed. Give a good 10-15 mins to stopping crying and resetting without feeding or moving baby. This also gives you 10-15 mins to come round a bit from your own sleep. It's a good habit to always try and resettle without feeding or moving baby. Even if it doesn't work, over time it will start to sometimes.
- if not settling, lift and feed. If breastfeeding try to keep baby awake to feed more. Lift to wind on your shoulder. Reoffer more feed. Wind again. Out down
- resettle in the cot, rather than putting down fully asleep. So move your whole torso into the cot to cuddle close. Cheek touching cheek can help since it gives skin to skin reassurance. Some long slow shushing sounds. Tap dummy if not actively sucking. A hand weighty laid on chest can be reassuring. Then it's just a case of being calm, patient and reassuring. Just wait. The active sucking should stop crying. Your physically close contact and skin to skin contact reassures. And you know baby is fed and winded.

An issue you might have is the small size of the snoozepod. I use a full sized cot/cotbed with one side removed. That allows the top half of an adult to physically lie and sleep within the cot with baby, but then extract yourself once baby is asleep.

moonriver32 Mon 28-Dec-20 14:51:26

Thank you @FATEdestiny, that is so detailed! I will definitely give this a go tonight. And you'd use those same settling techniques after the bedtime feed when first putting him down for the night? Really hope we can get somewhere using this. It seems a lot kinder and doesn't involve letting him cry as I just can't do that.

Naps we will have to persevere with the movement I think. I don't hate the contact naps but my house is an absolute tip, I get fed up watching TV in silence with the subtitles on and I know it's not helping him in the long run. Interesting that you suggest pram/bouncer and not up into their room in darkness/silence like many others!

One more question - he is always up for the day between 6 and 6.30am. I'm reluctant to do bedtime too early as he would then potentially do his longest stretch of sleep really early, and worry that early bedtime would make him ready for the day at 5am?(he has started to do this either way!) What sort of bedtime would you suggest at this age?

OP’s posts: |
FATEdestiny Mon 28-Dec-20 15:19:29

Safe sleep guidelines to protect from SIDS say you should stay in the room with baby for all sleeps for the first 6 months. This includes daytime naps and early evening.

For this reason, I don't start upstairs in blackout room daytime (or evening) naps until past 6 months. At least 6 months (rather than at 6 months). I love daytime naps to the cot once sleep cycles are linked so naps are 90 minutes plus. And I move the evening sleep upstairs once I am having to wake baby up to go to bed, rather than me going to bed when baby wakes up.

So for bedtime - I would do all of the stuff for bedtime routine during any wake to.e between 6pm and 8pm. So bath, change to night clothes, massage, story, whatever else you do, but then put baby down for a "nap" afterwards in whatever place you usually use for daytime naps.

Then when baby wakes after being put "to bed" downstairs, do not then have any further awake time. So if waking, resettle, feed, try again to resettle and so on.

I tend to favour an 8pm -7am night, so I go for a bedtime routine starting at about 7pm with a view to an 8pm bedtime.

I get fed up watching TV in silence with the subtitles on

I wouldn't be doing that. It screams of rod for your own back. Think of when you have a second child (or third or fourth), your baby will need to learn to sleep downstairs with all the noise of a toddler playing, Peppa Pig on the tellybox and all the rest of family life going on around sleeping baby.

Babies sleep better if they can learn to sleep with life going on around them. Yes, I'd switch the TV low and lights dinner during the evening (after bedtime but when baby is still downstairs). But not during the day.

Silent telly and zero noise is an indulgence that only Prescious First Borns are afforded.

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MJBmummy Tue 29-Dec-20 00:13:40

I am having the same problem and our babies sound very similar except mine has never slept on his own longer than 2.5 hours at a time. He is 3 months so I'm dreading the 4 month sleep regression because there isnt really much to regress from. My baby doesnt tend to sleep a lot during the day no matter how hard we try to help him nap. One of his problems with settling or waking up is farting! I always spend 30 minutes winding / keeping upright after feeds but he is a very windy baby and always farts when I put him down which unsettled him. I have tried using dummies to help him settle in the night so I don't have to pick him up but he just cant get the hang of them and constantly spits them out.
We have a bedtime routine but he just wont stay asleep long once he is down. He normally wakes up 5 or 6 times a night and he tends to have a wide awake window of around 1.5 hours about 3am, no matter how hard or long I try to keep him settled in night mode. I feel like I must be getting something very very wrong but dont know what. It's my 1st baby and I feel useless!

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