Sam, 16 weeks: Waking more at night and catnapping all day
Sam's sleep story...
Little Sam was an easy newborn. His mother Ashley followed his cues for sleeping and feeding and set up some great sleep habits by making sure he was swaddled and sleeping in a dark room with white noise playing. By 10 weeks old, he was sleeping in long chunks overnight and having 3 or 4 naps during the day of over an hour each nap.
But when Sam reached 16 weeks old, everything changed! Almost instantly, he started waking after 35-45 minutes for his daytime naps and Ashley was finding it really difficult to settle him back to sleep. A pacifier worked to settle Sam to sleep at the start of his naps but it would keep falling out as Ashley was trying to resettle him, causing a lot of frustration for them both!
At the same time, Sam also started waking a lot more at night. He had been sleeping for 5 or 6 hours at a time and now he was waking every 2 hours after midnight. Ashley wasn't sure what to do seeing as he had previously been sleeping so well, so she would feed him sometimes and replace the pacifier at other times to get him back to sleep.
Ashley was at a loss for why Sam's sleep had taken such a sudden turn for the worse so she turned to the internet. She found our blog on the 4 month sleep regression and it all sounded very familiar! Ashley purchased our Baby Sleep Program and reached our to our sleep consultants in the Little Ones Village for some guidance around the best place to start.
We were able to quickly see that baby Sam was indeed going through the 4 month sleep regression, meaning that his sleep needs had now changed and matured. He was no longer sleeping like a newborn baby and was now waking fully between sleep cycles during his naps and overnight.
Many babies go from being great sleeping newborns, to tricky sleepers, at around the 4 month mark, although difficulties can start creeping in from as early as 8 weeks. This regression is due to the massive neurological development that occurs at this age, that changes a baby's sleep patterns permanently. When this happens, a baby's ability to link their sleep cycles depends completely on the things they have come to associate strongly with sleep - in baby Sam's case this was the pacifier.
Because Sam was relying on the pacifier to go to sleep in the first place, he now needed to have it replaced each time he naturally woke between sleep cycles. Due to his young age and still being swaddled, he wasn't able to replace the pacifier himself yet. To get Sam napping longer and sleeping better overnight, he now needed to learn to go to sleep on his own, without the pacifier.
For some babies, the pacifier won't become an issue, so if it's working for your little one - that's awesome! Unfortunately, it wasn't working for Sam anymore because he couldn't go back to sleep between sleep cycles without it. This led to him catnapping during the day and his tired mum having to get up all night long to replace the pacifier. For other babies at this age, their sleep association might be a feeding or rocking to sleep habit, which they'll need replicated each time they rouse between cycles.
We suggested Ashley start following the sleep schedule in our Program right away, so we could guarantee that Sam was being put to bed at the perfect times to help him learn to fall asleep without the pacifier, or "self-settle". It is a lot harder for a baby to learn how to self-settle if they're over or under tired.
At the same time, Ashley began using our gradual method to remove the pacifier. She started by introducing an alternative settling method alongside the pacifier, then removing the pacifier, then easing back on the new settling method. Ashley also kept our Baby Sleep Shhh white noise track playing throughout the whole process to help ease the transition.
After 4 days, Sam was no longer needing the pacifier to go to sleep! As he mastered the skill of self-settling, he also started napping for more than one sleep cycle at a time and his night wakes were drastically reduced! Ashley was so surprised how quickly this change happened:
Wow! I cannot express how grateful I am to you guys and your incredible routines and methods - you have literally saved my sanity! I couldn't work out why my perfect sleeper had turned into a sleep monster, but you ladies hit the nail on the head straight away and helped me put the plan into action. I am so please I saw your blog that day!
The 4 month sleep regression catches many, MANY parents unawares but with the right information and tools, you can get your baby's sleep back on track in no time! Our Sleep Programs contain everything you need to get through this tricky stage, including customisable schedules, gentle settling methods, comprehensive troubleshooting and more! We also have certified sleep consultants available day and night in our Little Ones Village to provide you with tailored advice and solutions for your little one.