Cerys, 5 months: Short naps, night waking.
Cerys' sleep story...
At just about bang on 4 months old, baby Cerys started having noticeably shorter naps in the day, or "catnapping". Prior to this, she had been napping for 1 to 1.5 hours at a time but now her naps were between 30 to 45 minutes.
When the catnapping first started, her mum Katie wasn't too worried because Cerys was still having a good sleep overnight, usually only waking once for a feed. Katie didn't mind the shorter naps because they were both still getting a decent sleep at night... until they weren't.
By 5 months, Cerys had started to wake every 2 hours from about 11pm onwards and Katie was having to rock her back to sleep each time she woke. She was also becoming harder and harder to get to sleep for her naps and now needed to be rocked for 15-20 minutes before she'd drift off.
Katie was at a loss, especially when it came to Cerys' night waking, seeing as she had previously been sleeping so well. She received some advice that she needed to "sleep train" her baby overnight, so that she would learn to go back to sleep on her own. Katie didn't feel comfortable with the method recommended to her (a verbal check-in, hands-off method), so she contacted us to see if we could help.
We could see exactly what was going on with Cerys' sleep! She had simply reached the 4 month sleep regression. This period marks a permanent neurological change in your baby's sleep cycles and patterns and is characterised by catnapping during the day and more frequent (2 hourly) waking at night.
Feeling confident that we could improve her baby's sleep, Katie started Cerys on our Baby Sleep Program and reached out to our certified sleep consultants in the Little Ones Village for some guidance around where to start.
It looked to us like Cerys needed some small changes made to her daytime nap structure first, to make her awake periods more appropriate for her age, so we recommended Katie start following the sleep schedule for Cerys' age. This would ensure she was perfectly ready for sleep at naps and bedtime and that she was getting the right balance of awake time and sleep during the day, to sleep well at night.
Katie saw an improvement in Cerys' settling straight away. Although she was still having to rock Cerys to sleep, it was now much quicker and easier. But what Katie really wanted help with was the catnapping and night waking, so we suggested she have a look at our gentle methods for self-settling next.
The 4 month regression is something all babies go through, however it is definitely "worse" for some babies than others. During this regression, babies become a lot more conscious about how they go to sleep and start to depend completely on their existing sleep associations, to go back to sleep when they rouse between sleep cycles - every 45 minutes in the day and every 2 hours overnight.
Cerys was used to being rocked to sleep at the start of naps and bedtime so when the 4 month regression hit and she started fully waking at the end of a sleep cycle, she was unable to go back to sleep without being rocked again. This was causing the short naps and the night waking. So learning to fall asleep independently, or self-settle, was going to be the key to longer naps and longer stretches of sleep at night.
Katie explained she wasn't comfortable with the cry-based sleep training method she had been recommended previously and we completely understand that! This is why we offer nine gradual self-settling methods in our Program that work with your baby's existing sleep association and allow you to comfort your baby in a hands-on way throughout the entire process.
Katie chose to use our method for rocked-to-sleep babies, which gently and gradually weaned Cerys off the rocking and guided her towards self-settling. Katie was able to soothe Cerys if she got distressed and be present with her while she was learning this new skill.
Within 2 weeks of starting on our Program, Katie was excited to report a huge improvement in Cerys' naps and night waking. Now that she had mastered self-settling, Cerys was having longer naps during the day and she was also back to sleeping well at night again.
I am in total shock! I knew I needed to change something but I also knew I wasn't prepared for any cry-it-out or similar methods. This has been amazing and gentle and I haven't once questioned that I was doing the right thing for my baby. She just needed a chance to show me what she was capable of! Thank you, thank you!
Let us guide you and your baby towards better sleep. Our comprehensive Sleep Programs contain everything you need to establish a consistent routine and get through your baby's sleep regression. Our certified sleep consultants are also available day and night in our Little Ones Village to provide you with personalised advice and solutions for your baby.