Fourth Month Sleep Regression…or Not

Baby with bolster

We happened to sleep train Michael on the night that he turned 4 months, and I believe it happened not a moment too soon. Because immediately after the dust settled, things went a little bit crazy.

For the next few weeks, he went from one or two predictable night wakings to waking up four to five random times a night. Sometimes because he would roll onto his tummy and get stuck, and other times he would just wake for no discernible reason. However, each time he woke, we would just adjust his position if necessary and he would put himself back to sleep without crying, which I’m pretty sure would not have happened without sleep training. So if that was the fourth month sleep regression, I absolutely credit sleep training for helping us breeze through.

Unless, of course, that wasn’t actually the fourth month sleep regression. Because right after that, things got worse. We went into a week of multiple wakings with loud crying. The crying freaked us out, because our little fella hadn’t cried at night since we’d sleep trained him, so we figured that something was really bothering him. The first few nights that it happened, we flew into his room and picked him up, sang his favourite songs, dosed him with paracetamol, gave him a tour of the living room… we did whatever we needed to do to get him to stop crying and go back to sleep. We were suspecting teething, and/or a mild cold. I’d come down with a pretty bad virus around the same time, and he sounded a little congested at night.

But it wasn’t obvious what was going on, because the symptoms weren’t conclusive, and he would be absolutely fine in the day. So we covered our bases by dosing him with paracetamol before bed and again in the middle of the night. We sprayed Sterimar up his nose, nasal aspirator-ed him, and dripped in Iliadin for good measure. We slipped a cushion under his head to help with the congestion. I checked his gums five times a day.

And we kept picking him up at night.

After about five nights of this, all of us (Lyn, Ralph and I) started to come to the same suspicion: maybe Michael was getting used to us appearing every time he cried, and that was encouraging him to continue waking and crying. I remembered that it generally takes about three days for a baby to start a habit, and three days to break one. So that night, we dialed down our intervention back to zero. Coincidentally or not, he cried only twice that night, and only for a few minutes. Same for the next night. On the third or fourth night, he slept through without waking at all, almost 11 hours straight.

Now, things are back to normal. He still stirs once or twice a night, but goes back to sleep on his own.

While all of that was happening, you can bet that I was googling like a house afire. Four month sleep regression. Five and half month regression. Teething. Cold. Six month regression. Growth spurt. Wonder week 26. The wonderful thing about babies and sleep is that there is always some sort of regression / spurt / wonder week / developmental phase that could be the culprit. It could be anything, everything, nothing. We just hang on and ride it all through, hopefully on the back of some good sleep fundamentals.

If I didn’t already say it, thank God for sleep training.

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