The Dreaded Four-Month Sleep Regression

​I’ve stressed myself out about Leon’s sleep since pretty much Day 1, but now that we’re in the midst of the four-month sleep regression I’m finding myself more and more frustrated each night. I’m frustrated that it takes multiple attempts and several crutches to get him to finally calm down. I’m frustrated that after an agonizing transition to the crib, he suddenly can’t even be laid down in it without immediately opening his eyes and screaming (so we’ll have to go through that transition again). I’m frustrated that he’s now waking up every hour after about 2 a.m. I’m frustrated that our go-to soothing techniques take twice or even three times as long. Mostly I’m frustrated from reading so many horror stories that this isn’t a phase, it’s just how it’ll be FOREVER (insert dramatic thunderclap).

The last couple nights when he’s crying, I just curl up in a ball on the couch while Minh soothes him. It isn’t fair for me to just leave the hard work to him, but I just get so overwhelmed when I can’t stop his fussing. It’s frustrating mostly because he was once so okayish at sleeping!

And of course, then I feel guilty because I’m frustrated yet I totally signed up for having a baby knowing that this was part of the deal.

It doesn’t make it any easier that all the articles I’ve read disagree with each other — let him cry it out, don’t let him cry it out; nurse him to sleep, don’t nurse him to sleep; try a lovey, he’s too young for a lovey. The only advice that I’ve found that is consistent is “put him down drowsy but awake.” Which is a pipe dream. I’d be happy just putting him down without him immediately jolting himself awake.

Minh and I spent weeks transitioning him to his crib from the Rock’n’Play. Many nights he’d wake up before 11 p.m. and I’d walk back and forth from the crib to the guest bedroom (where I now sleep so I don’t have to walk through the house every time he wakes up). Pick him up when he cries, put him to sleep, wait ten minutes, pick him up when he cries, put him to sleep, wait ten minutes… Eventually, with a rolled-up towel and jerry-rigged wedge pillow, we were able to mimic the Rock’n’Play enough that he slept from 8:30 to 6:30 with only one wakeup! I crawled into the downstairs bed in the morning for Minh to start his shift and whispered, “He woke up once. It was glorious.”

And then this regression happened, and we’re back to square one. He’s suddenly decided won’t sleep in anything but the swing.

I’ve bought so much stuff to try to prompt him to sleep for longer stretches. (Side note: It’s sad the amount of money tired parents are willing to spend just to get an extra hour of sleep.) But as of right now, I’m not willing to do the Ferber/Weissbluth sleep methods. I have no judgement for people who let their babies cry it out, but for me, Leon’s screams are like nails on a chalkboard and I get extremely anxious if I’m unable to soothe him immediately. It’s not his fault he can’t sleep well, and he’s probably just as frustrated as I am. My baby’s still a baby and can’t comfort himself yet. He needs his mommy.

Tonight it took a little over an hour of nursing to put him to sleep, but he at least fell asleep at 8:15 (as opposed to 11:30 on Sunday and 10:30 last night). I’m holding out hope. It’ll get better eventually. It has to, no matter how long it takes. This is my test, and hopefully I emerge from the other side a more patient (and better rested) mama!

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