Jan 28, 2011  •  In Baby, Claire, Parenting, Personal

Sleep Regression

Ever since Claire hit 15 weeks of age (she is now 17 weeks old), she has been becoming increasingly difficult to deal with each passing day. I had read about the dreaded 4-month sleep regression and realized that our child was a classic case: instead of waking up only once or twice in the night, she was suddenly screaming awake 4-6 times a night!

What most non-parents don’t realize is that (good) sleep begets more sleep. In other words, an overtired baby will have more difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep. So with a baby who is getting less sleep through the night, we were bound to have trouble with naps also.

We must’ve hit our low point yesterday. The omfg the baby will NOT sleep at ALL and will only fuss and cry no matter what we do kind. The kind that made me burst into tears at the end of the day and apologize to J on the baby’s behalf for ruining his birthday.

I have been reading up on baby sleep books and websites, and have come to the conclusion that we are in the unlucky 15-20% of families who have extra-fussy babies with difficult temperaments. She’s been through colic between 5-9 weeks of age, and now her sleep regression is making for a very tense atmosphere in our household.


We get about 10 minutes of these happy moments every 3-4 hours.
But still, these moments make the bad times seem worthwhile.

The prescription for extra-fussy babies is a sleep schedule. Previously, I had not believed in a sleep schedule but I now realize that Claire’s temperament calls for it, for our health and sanity’s sake.

I will also start putting her to bed earlier — at 6:15~6:30pm as opposed to our usual 7:00~7:30pm. The main reason for her original bedtime was so that J could spend some time with her when he comes home from work (he usually gets home at around 7pm). Now with the new schedule, he may not see her at night at all, but it may give him an incentive to go to bed earlier himself and wake up early to spend time with his daughter.

Even my mother remarks that Claire is a difficult, “intense” baby, and tsk tsks over the constant dark circles under my eyes. (The one good thing about having a difficult baby is that my post-partum weight loss has come swift and easy. Even after a 50-lb pregnancy weight gain, I am now just a couple of pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight without even trying!) Being a mother is a difficult job in itself, but it is especially hard with a fussy baby. It makes me really question whether I will ever want another baby — as much as I love Claire, I don’t think I can go through this again.

15 Responses to “Sleep Regression”

  1. My oldest nephew was JUST like her. He’s older now, but just as fussy/picky and a bit of a brat, but I attribute that to bad parenting and lack of discipline.

    He grew out of it quickly, in about 2 years, once he was able to start communicating somewhat and it became easier to tell us what he wanted.

  2. Hopefully, this shall pass, there is a phase called the “Four month Wakeful” when the kids are awake ALL THE TIME AND KILLING US. I went through it, friends went through it. No other thing to say but it sucks the big one. I hope you get some relief soon. Maybe try giving her a dose of acetaminophen? She could be an early teether. Not trying to make excuses, she could just be a difficult baby, for which I am sorry, maybe the earlier bedtime will help! I’ve found a routine is SO helpful in establishing the “time to go to bed” cues, do you have a routine you follow at night?

    Ugh, Jenny, I hope Claire sleeps soon.

    • Yep although we didn’t have a schedule, we always had a bedtime routine. But in the past couple of weeks, even the bedtime routine hasn’t been helping. It’s like she’s a newborn all over again. :-(

      I’ve been tempted to give her some acetaminophen, but my husband doesn’t like to give her meds unless we’re certain she’s in pain. I really hope it’s just a phase too, but after talking to my cousin and comparing our babies’ behavioral patterns, it really does seem like Claire’s been a difficult baby from day one and now that she’s going through the 4-month regression she is EXTRA difficult. Sigh. Thanks for your support!

  3. Cyndi:

    We started sleep training AInsley at 4 months per our pedi..I tracked Ainsley’s naps during the day with a nap tracking website ( https://go.trixietracker.com ) ( similar to FF but for sleep..lol) I found two times where she always napped and stuck with it..She still naps around 9:30 and 2:30 everyday…Finding her sleepy window w/o getting overly tired it KEY!

    I did the dreaded CIO method (per my pedi again) As cruel as some people say it is she picked up on it w/n 3-4 days..Those 3-4 days were tough but she now knows when it is bedtime and what is expected of her..We have bad nights here and there but they are few and far between!

    I can lay her in her crib awake for naps and bedtime and she is a sleep w/n 5 minutes (unless she is teething)

    We have a strict bedtime routine that we have stuck with…bath,light music and play in her room, book, bottle and bed!

    Jin does not see ainsley at all during the week (unless he works from home) He leaves most days b/f she wakes up and gets home after she is asleep. As much as that sucks she is a much happier baby b/c she isn’t getting overly tired (which was happening pre-sleep training!

  4. Is there any way at all it could be a milk or protein intolerance? NOT trying to give unsolicited advice and I know you’ve probably tried/heard everything but I’m kinda in the Dr. Sears camp about the whole “colic” thing and feel like if it doesn’t drop off by a certain period, there may be an actual medical problem.

    Everly got a lot less fussy from the 4-6 month mark – omg it made such a huge difference. This past month I’ve noticed it dropping off more & more, so hopefully you will, too.

    You’re doing a great job from what I can tell. If all medical possiblities have been ruled out, you may just have to brace yourself mama (and it sounds like that’s what you’re doing). High-spirited children are known to be very intelligent as they get older, so she might just be frustrated that she can’t move/talk the way she wants.

    You have shared such an intimate, honest view of your mothering experience & I (and I’m sure tons of others) really appreciate it.

    • We actually had our 4-month checkup earlier this week and the doctor says there’s nothing wrong with her physically. We’re also pretty certain that it can’t be what she’s drinking, because we’ve gone through various brands/types when we switched to formula and Similac Sensitive is what she liked (and her body handled) the best.

      It’s funny what you say about high-spirited children, because that’s exactly what my mother says! I always roll my eyes at her and reply that this must be something that parents say to help themselves feel better…but deep down inside I hope this is the case for us!

  5. Oh GOD! (literally) I know the very worst thing to say at this moment is ‘I’ve been there’. But I’ve SOOOOOOOOOOOO been there. I have no advice for you. I just want to tell you what a great mom you are. You’re doing an awesome job…and I’m not just pandering. You are doing. an. awesome. job.

  6. Courtney:

    Ugh! I remember those days. My daughter had been a good sleeper until that dreaded 4 month wakeful period- which for her started on my FIRST MOTHER’S DAY! What a present!

    It lasted for 2 months until I bit the bullet and sleep trained her (a semi-cry-it-out type thing). She was 6 mos old when we trained and it took about a week. It was kind of tough, but very worth it.

    She’s almost 13 months now and she usually goes down around 7:30/8:30, wakes once anywhere from 3:30am to 6am, nurses, and then goes back to sleep until 6:30 or 7am.

    I’m trying to wean her right now and get her to drop that morning nursing so I can get some solid sleep.

    And as for your fear of trying for another- I was a terribly difficult baby (my parents never miss an opportunity to tell me of their trials and tribulations with me as an infant). It took them 4 years to work up the nerve to try for a second kid and my little sister was the total opposite baby, easy-peasy. For instance- the first night she was home from the hospital, she slept through the night! I, on the other hand, at 4yo woke them up several times.

    Hang in there! Claire is a doll!

    • My parents tell me that I was a very difficult baby too (my mother says Claire being a difficult baby is simply karma), and my mother was terrified when she found out she was pregnant with my younger sister. However, my sister turned out to be a VERY easy baby so they lucked out, just like your parents.

      Sometimes I guess parents luck out more than once — J has a friend whose two daughters started sleeping through the night in their first months…without any sleep training! It would be the worst to have consecutive babies who are difficult and extra fussy.

  7. Okay. I’m totally not a mom. But I got my niece Fischer Price Ocean Wonders Soothe and Glow Seahorse. It’s tummy glows and it plays music. And apparently a lot of parents SWEAR by it because it’s really calming to kiddos if you give it to them when you put them down.

    It may not work AT ALL but it worked for my niece and I’ve heard it work for other kiddos.

    • I’ve seen the Glow Seahorse on Amazon and I’ve been tempted to get it, but we already have the Sleep Sheep and they seem very similar, except the seahorse lights up. Since lights seem to keep Claire awake, we’ll stick with the Sleep Sheep for now and consider the seahorse if things don’t get better within a month. Thanks for the suggestion though!

  8. Pinkpaws:

    I believe in the “good sleep begets good sleep” saying. When my daughter was a newborn we didn’t have a bedtime schedule either. I just let her sleep whenever she needed it. But by 4-6 months, it was apparent that a schedule was needed. She started with 2 1-hr naps in the morning (around 8am, then again at 10am), an afternoon nap (longer, about 2-3 hrs from 12:30 or 1) and bedtime was around 7 (woke up to nurse 2-3x). She stopped napping at 3 1/2 years old. These days, my husband still doesn’t see her certain days of the week, especially on school days and he gets home from work late. She has been a pretty good sleeper though(compared to her friends who are of the same age) – i.e., she napped 2x in the morning, they only napped 1x. They dropped the naps sooner, she needed it longer. No matter the difference, they do need the predictability of the schedule.
    Take care and don’t get worked up on the baby books and parenting magazines.
    Oh, I also believe in the saying “This too shall pass.” :)

  9. We went through the same thing with the sleep regression…I thought it was a growth spurt, that something was wrong with my milk, that I didn’t have enough milk, that his bedroom was too cold…anything to explain why he would go to bed at 8 and wake up at 11, 1, 3, 5, and 7. Miserable! We started some sleep training, and it turns out, he was probably just tired. The first night, he went to bed at 8 without a peep. He woke up at 12:30 and fussed for 20 minutes, and went back to sleep. He woke up at 4:40, fussed for 10 minutes, and went back to sleep. He woke up at six, ready to start his day with a big smile!

  10. Sarah:

    I know this is an old post but i’m currently beginning to think of training my second. He started off very mellow but his sleep has gotten worse and worse and he’s been waking every 45 mins got the past 3 weeks. My first was like your baby sounds here. She was such a difficult baby, her whole attitude did improve once we’d got her sleeping better. Now she’s almost 3. She’s a wonderful little girl but definitely still spirited and not frightened of staring her opinion! HA! She’s also very smart and a great night sleeper still.

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