Monday, June 9, 2014

4 Month Sleep Regression

While at my mommy class I have heard a lot of parents complaining about 4 month sleep issues. Many moms complain that they see a regression in the sleep habits of their children when they reach 4 months old. This regression can come during night sleep, naps, or even both (GRR!). It can be extremely frustrating for you—especially if you are trying to get something done in a timely manner. While I am certainly no expert on the subject, I have observed my own child over her fourth month and come to this conclusion about her. It is not really a sleep regression—it is an eating regression.

My girl, P, has become far more aware of her surroundings in the last month. This awareness has made her more easily distracted while eating. I cannot tell you how many times a slight movement or noise has rendered her no longer interested in her bottle. It has become WWIII at times trying to get her to eat. I know that some of you may think, “if she’s not hungry, then don’t feed her.” But that is not the issue here. She is hungry, just not starving enough to woof down that whole bottle in one sitting. This has been really hard for me because I am a Babywise mom. One of the basic principles is to ensure that your child takes full feedings every feeding. I have noticed that if P does not get her 25 -30 ounces a day in, then she will wake at night. Therefore, these distracted meal times are worrisome for me. So, if you find yourself with a baby that used to sleep like a champ, and then all of a sudden doesn’t, here are some suggestions I have for you.

1.       Keep a running list of the number of ounces (minutes at the breast) taken at each feeding in a 24 hour period. Do this for three or four days. If you notice a pattern between the number of ounces and night time sleep, then you may need to try a few of these other suggestions.

2.       Try to keep the feeding environment as quiet and as soothing as possible. There are times when I have to take P into her room and turn off the lights to get her to eat consistently for more than a few seconds at a time.

3.       Turn off the TV—I am still working on this one in my house. My Hubs prefers to watch Step By Step while giving P her 10:00 bottle. I have suggested that he not do this on more than one occasion, but seeing as how she has been eating fine at this dream feed—he is less than interested in changing his plans.

4.       Offer the bottle or breast more frequently—this was also a hard one for me. Babywise preaches that you should cut out snacking. It states that children learn very quickly to snack and will stop taking bottles in large volumes because they will realize that it is available whenever they want it. I understand that this can be a problem if you are taking baby out and want them to be predictable. However, I choose sleep in almost every situation now-a-days. Therefore, if P does not take at least 4 ounces in a feeding, then I will offer her than bottle over the next hour as many times as it takes until it is either gone or it is naptime. This is because I do not want to be up at night with a screaming baby.

5.       Find something to do with those arms and legs—if you child is like P, then those things are flying everywhere during meals. I mean, girlfriend is scratching and slapping me and herself. I have found that holding her where one of her arms is wrapped around my back while I hold the other arm with my free hand to be helpful during feeding times. I have even put her in her Halo Sleeper during a meal to keep her from kicking and slapping herself!

6.       If you are feeding around others, then leave the room. If you are in public, then go to a quieter location—or turn baby away from people. I know everyone means well, but they can be distracting to your child if they are talking to them while they are trying to eat.

I hope these things help. Like I said, there are just some things that I have found to help with P. So far, we have not had a real sleep regression at nighttime. We HAVE had some naptime issues though, but I feel that those are more tied to allowing her to go too long between naps. I find that P needs to sleep every 90 minutes in order to have a good nap. We aren’t perfect though. Anytime we leave the house, then we know she will skip at least one nap and it will mean a meltdown at some point. She becomes a ticking time bomb!
If you have any suggestions for helping with naps on the go for 4 month olds and up, then please send them my way!

I am also sure that sleep regression is partly because of teething in some little ones. Since I am not really there yet, I do not know how this will affect P. I’m sure there is a blog post in my future on that one.

Have you had to deal with sleep regression in your four or five month old? What tips or tricks do you have?

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