Four month sleep regression, wonder week #19, four month wakeful… whatever you want to call this period, it just plain sucks.
(Seriously, Unquestionably, Categorically, Kick-myself-in-the-head, Stinks)!
So what’s the deal? Here I was, happily raising a baby (a happy baby, I might add) who, by the time he was 7 weeks old was already sleeping a 6 hour stretch after bedtime and who, by the time he reached the 3 month mark was generally down to two night wakings and had even graced me with sleeping through the whole night three nights in a row! (I know, I know: I was lucky. My son positively SPOILED me with regards to naps and sleep since birth when he wasn’t going through a growth spurt. But hey, I’m still going to complain).
Anyways, getting back on track…
After having been spoiled by my son, he hit his darned 3 month growth spurt and then, out of nowhere, he started freaking out at bedtime. From thereon in, things got from bad to worse. He went from taking three 1.5 h naps and one 3/4 h nap to maybe sleeping 45 min for three naps and screaming his head off for the catnap (which, we ultimately ended up giving up on), to waking up after 30 minutes, to sleeping a whole hour total during the day (on a good day). Of course, the screaming fits kept going on for bedtime and he started waking up prematurely during the night as well.
I can deal with a baby that wakes up often at night. What I can’t deal with, is a baby that takes forever to get back to sleep, no matter what we do. To give you an idea of what my last three weeks of nights have been like, here is a log for a couple of nights ago:
- 18:40 – Start of bedtime routine: feed / bath / cream / PJs / kisses
- 19:40 – Go to room / white noise / lights off / pacifier / rock / CRY HIS HEAD OFF for 15 min
- 20:00 – Asleep (whew)
- 23:20 – Wake up fussing : nurse / put in crib / pacifier / soothe him until asleep (5 min)
- 23:50 – Wake up SCREAMING HIS HEAD OFF : go to crib / pacifier *falls back asleep
- 23:55 – Wake up screaming : pacifier
- 00:00 – Wake up / Spits out pacifier / Wide awake, playing with feet : pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min)
- 00:20 – Wake up fussing and kicking legs : pick up and rock until asleep (15 min)
- 03:25 – Wake up fussing : nurse / put in crib / pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min)
- 03:50 – Wake up screaming : pacifier *falls back asleep
- 03:55 – Wake up screaming : pacifier *falls back asleep
- 04:00 – Wake up screaming: pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min)
- 05:00 – Wake up fussing : pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min)
- 05:30 – Wake up fussing : pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min)
- 05:50 – Wake up fussing : Nurse / pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min) finally fell asleep at 06:20
- 08:30 – Up for the day. Giggling as he was playing with his feet I might add… It’s a darned good thing my baby is so cute!
So,what’s the problem? Nothing has changed in our bedtime or nap time routine ever since he was 7 weeks old. He started acting really fussy a week before we stopped swaddling.
Well, fortunately (or unfortunately, depends on the way you see it) we aren’t the problem. The thing is, he has been getting ready for wonder week 19: The World of Events. According to authors van de Rijt and Plooij:
The first phase (fussy period) of this leap into the perceptual world of “events” is age-linked and predictable, and starts between 14 and 17 weeks.
^^Yup, my son definitely fits the bill in that regard!
The authors go on to explain that “The World of Events” is all about understanding smooth sequences. It is the difference between a 12 weeker for whom it takes all the concentration in the world to just grab and object and a 16 weeker who will aptly grab an object within arms reach, examine it, put it in his mouth, shake it around and throw it on the floor.
This is a BIG milestone that requires a LOT of energy from our little ones! They are just discovering one thing after another and their brains are going 100 mph! As one blogger noted (and I’m sorry I can’t cite, I’ve read so much on this during my sleepless nights that I cant remember where I got this information from), it’s quite normal for babies to have so much trouble with sleep when we, as adults, suffer through sleep problems when we have something on our minds.
How do I know that my son is going through WW19?
Here are the signs that apply to my son:
- Having trouble sleeping : I think the log I included in this post speaks for itself…
- Becoming shy with strangers : Oh golly is he CLIN-GY when there are new people around him.
- Demanding more attention: He can’t seem to keep himself occupied these days.
- Always wants to be with mommy: Which is why I bought another carrier.
- May lose appetite: Only because he’s now soooo easily distracted (sucksucksuck “Oh what’s that sound?” sucksucksuck “Hi mommy, I love you” sucksucksuck “Who just moved right now?” sucksucksuck… “I think I’m full now”…
- May be moody: Oh yeah. He can go from laughing to crying to screaming his head off to smiling in a 5 minute time span. Sometimes, he even tries to do all of the above at the same time…
But it is all worth it (or I try to convince my sleep-deprived-moody self) because he has already shown MAJOR developmental changes and I know they will keep coming. Here are just a few things that have changed in the past three weeks:
- Sits up straight with minimal support
- Enjoys moving his mouth, has discovered his tongue, makes different shapes with his lips
- Grabs onto my nose and mouth (especially when I’m talking to him)
- Puts EVERYTHING he can get his hands on in his mouth
- Deliberately throws a plaything on the floor (oh yes, this is one of his favorite games!)
- Holds a book in his hands and stares at the pictures
- Stares in fascination at the movement of my lips and tongue when I talk
- Loves to watch repetitive movements (he loves to sit on the counter, in his Summer Infant seat and watch me cook)
- Responds to his own name!
- Will respond appropriately to an approving or scolding voice (not that we use a scolding voice often, but hey, when I haven’t slept in nearly three weeks and I’m at the end of my rope…meh, you get the picture)
- Recognizes the opening bars of a song (oh yes! And I sing really often to him too).
- Makes new sounds using his lips and tongue
- Makes noises when yawning and is aware of them
- Stretches his arms out to be picked up
- Gets grumpy when becoming impatient (most definitely!)
- Turns away from the feeding when full on his own accord
This is just a small selection of the skills he has gained and there are many more that he is likely to gain in the next few weeks. I can’t help but be amazed at all of the things he has learned in four short months. It just goes to show how quickly babies develop!