Charlotte's sleep story...
Charlotte was quite an easy newborn. Her mother Natasha followed her cues for sleeping and feeding and she was sleeping in long stretches overnight by around 8 weeks old and having 3 or 4 naps during the day of over an hour each nap.
When Charlotte reached 12 weeks old though, things started to change. She started waking after 35-45 minutes for her daytime naps. Sometimes Natasha was able to settle her back to sleep with rocking or patting or feeding, but other times she was not going back to sleep at all.
Natasha wasn't too worried about the catnapping because Charlotte continued to sleep well overnight... that is, until she was around 5 months. Charlotte had been sleeping for 5 to 6 hours at a time overnight but now, from midnight onwards, she was waking every 2 hours after that until morning.
Natasha wasn't sure what to do, seeing as Charlotte had previously been sleeping so well. She was sure that Charlotte didn't need to be fed every single time she woke but sometimes that was the only thing that worked to get her back to sleep!
One day our blog on the 4 month sleep regression popped up on Natasha's Facebook page and it sounded exactly like what Charlotte was going through. She purchased our Baby Sleep Program and sought some guidance from our sleep consultants in the Little Ones Village to figure out the best place to start.
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We were able to quickly see that Charlotte was indeed going through the 4 month sleep regression and her sleep needs had now changed and matured. She was no longer sleeping like a newborn baby and so her awake windows and sleep skills needed to adapt to match her neurological development.
We suggested that Natasha start following the nap schedule for Charlotte's age right away so we could guarantee that she was being put to bed at the right times to ensure she was tired enough to nap for longer during the day. Babies will often catnap if they're over or under tired and in Charlotte case, she wasn't quite having enough awake time for her age.
As part of the regression, Charlotte was also now waking fully between sleep cycles for her naps and overnight, so some strategies were needed to help her nap for longer and resettle herself in the night.
Many babies go from being great sleeping newborns to tricky sleepers around the 4 month mark, although it can start as early as 8 weeks old. 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 Charlotte's case this was being rocked to sleep. This meant she needed this replicated each time she roused between cycles. To be able to sleep for longer stretches at night, Charlotte needed to re-learn how to go to sleep on her own.
Since Charlotte was mostly rocked to sleep at naps and bedtime, Natasha decided to follow our method for rocked-to-sleep babies, which involves the parent soothing their baby if upset while still giving them the opportunity to fall asleep without being rocked fully to sleep. All in all, this process took 4 days, after which, Charlotte no longer needed to be actively settled to sleep.
Instead, Natasha was able to put Charlotte into her cot totally ready for a nap and she was able to self-settle to sleep on her own! Extending Charlotte's awake windows between naps meant that she was fully ready for sleep, which made self-settling much easier for her to achieve. Soon after, Charlotte started napping for more than one sleep cycle at a time, having a long lunchtime sleep, and her night wakes were drastically reduced!
Natasha was so surprised how quickly and easily this change happened:
"I didn't realise how much more awake time Charlotte needed than what I was giving her! This in itself made heaps of difference and she was even able to fall asleep on her own easier because she was perfectly ready to go to sleep! I'm amazed at the incredible difference in such a short time. Thank you so much!"
Our comprehensive Sleep Programs make it easy to keep up with your baby's changing sleep needs. Get instant access to our trusted sleep solutions, customisable sleep schedules, detailed troubleshooting notes, gentle settling methods and more. Personalised advice and support from our team of certified sleep consultants is also available, day and night, in our Little Ones Village.