Monday, May 26, 2014

What's with the 4 month sleep disaster?

Sleep Question:  Tracy Spackman, my DD was a decent sleeper up until about the 4 ish month stage. Now at 5 months, she has a harder time falling asleep now, and only naps for very short periods during the day, why?

Yes, around the 4 the month, there is tons of brain development. Like the vision changes.  It's actually very exciting for her. Your baby can now see farther away and with all the added detail to her world,  she is more perceptive and therefore more distractable. Think of it as a sleep progression rather than a sleep regression. (Just semantics) Sleep falls apart and wake ups may happen every 1-3 hours, and naps may be hard to get and often feeding is harder as she is more easily distracted.  This is when the baby's sleep is becoming a little more like adult sleep and may be ready or getting close to being ready to lean sleep skills. A little tip to help with the distracted eating is to nurse (or feed in your arms) making eye contact and facing a blank wall away from other distractions.  Put a light blanket over the two of you like a tent if necessary to block stimulation.

That doesn't mean you need to do sleep training now. But some gentle sleep coaching or sleep shaping can help.  Previous to this, sleep is innate. Either she can do it or she can't. Sleep self soothing is a learned skill. This skill enables her to relax and organize  her body to sleep when she is tired and it also helps her to better manage her emotions when in stressful situations. After sleep coaching older children, many parents tell me their child's temper tantrums stop and their child is more even tempered once they are able to sleep without a sleep crutch. So, your child is reaching this time. It's very exciting and frustrating at the same time. If you want to do sleep coaching, it's still a good idea to wait until 6 months if you are going to follow a book.

If you need better sleep NOW, that's where I can help. To do something gentle like I do, your baby still needs to be at least 18 weeks old and at least 2 weeks into the more distracted phase of the 4 month sleep regression and you would want to have appropriate night feedings as part of your plan. Until you have a plan in place that you feel confident in and can be consistent about, keep doing what ever crutch gets you both as much sleep as possible. Swings, nursing, co-sleeping, rocking etc. these are blessings until you are ready for change.  Cry It Out isn't the only option.

Other things you can do right now are:
1.  Catch the sleep window.
2.  Try gentle white noise or rain or fan sounds.
3.  Reduce the stimuli in bed like mobiles and light.
4. Try putting your baby to bed drowsy but awake but this doesn't work for everyone.

You may want to check out my website and read the success stories of parents going through what you are going through.  I have recommended books and a blog on there too. And if you are going crazy, call me for a gentle sleep consultation.  I wish someone had explained it to me when my babies were that age.

For sleep consultations, visit
Tracy Spackman is a certified gentle sleep coach. That means she will teach you how to help your child sleep through the night without doing Cry It Out. You have gentle options.
Free 15 min sleep assessments. Call 602-524-7610
Invite your friends to Join my Facebook group "Sleep Sisters"

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