CASE STUDY: 16 weeks, started waking more at night, catnapping all day
*this is a case study from a real-life mum who reached out for help. We share our case studies in the hope it may help other mums who are in the same, or similar, situations. Not everyone parents in the same way, so please do not judge, criticize or demean these mothers and the parenting choices they have made in the best interests of their babies and their families.
Age: 16 weeks
Room: dark, swaddled, white noise, pacifier
Naps: catnapping all day in 35-45 minute naps
Night: waking every 2 hours after midnight
Little Sam was an easy newborn. His mother Ashley followed his cues well for sleeping and feeding and he was sleeping in long chunks overnight by around 10 weeks old and having 3 or 4 naps during the day of over an hour each nap.
Then Sam reached 16 weeks old. Almost instantly, he started waking after 35-45 minutes for his daytime naps and not being able to be settled back to sleep easily. He was taking a pacifier, which would settle him to sleep easily enough but would keep falling out as Ashley was trying to resettle him when he woke early and Sam (and Ashley) would get extremely frustrated. He 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 around 11:30pm then every 2 hours after midnight. Ashley wasn't sure what to do seeing as he had previously been sleeping so well. She would sometimes feed him and sometimes replace the pacifier to get him back to sleep.
Ashley found Little Ones after our blog on the 4 month sleep regression popped up on her Facebook page. It all looked a bit too familiar for her! She purchased our Baby Sleep Program and through the closed Facebook Support Group sought some guidance for the best place to start.
We were able to quickly see that her baby was indeed going through the 4 month sleep regression and his sleep needs had now changed and matured. He was no longer sleeping like a newborn baby. This meant he was waking fully between sleep cycles for his naps and overnight and because he was relying on the pacifier to go to sleep in the first place, he needed it to get back to sleep each time he naturally woke between cycles. Having limited coordination because of his age (and still being swaddled), he wasn't able to replace the pacifier himself. He needed to learn to go to sleep on his own at the start of naps and at bedtime, without the pacifier, before he would start napping longer and sleeping better overnight.
We suggested Ashley start the Sleep Program right away so we could guarantee 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 self-settle if they're over or under tired. At the same time, Ashley started using our gradual strategy to remove the pacifier by first introducing an alternative settling method while also using our Baby Sleep Shhh audio track, then removing the pacifier, then easing back on the new settling method, keeping the Baby Sleep Shhh to smooth the transition over. All in all this process took 4 days and Sam was no longer needing the pacifier to go to sleep! He started napping for more than one sleep cycle at a time and his night wakes were drastically reduced!
Many babies go from being great sleeping newborns to tricky sleepers at around the 4 month mark, although it can start creeping in from as early as 8 weeks. This 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 go to sleep depends completely on the things they have come to associate strongly with sleep - in baby Sam's case it was the pacifier. For some babies, the pacifier won't become a sleep or resettling issue and if it's working for you - that's awesome! It wasn't working for Sam anymore because he couldn't go back to sleep between sleep cycles without it, which meant he was only catnapping in the day and his tired mum was having to get up all night long to replace the pacifier. For other babies, their sleep association might be a feeding or rocking sleep habit, which they'll need replicated each time they rouse between cycles. Sam simply needed to re-learn how to go to sleep on his own, which he was able to do really quickly through following our Sleep Program and gradually being weaned off dependance on the pacifier. This resulted in him being able to nap for longer than one sleep cycle in the day and in much longer chunks overnight.
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!"
To start YOUR journey to better sleep, our Baby Sleep Programs are right here.
To learn more about baby sleep at this age, read: