George is fast approaching 4mths of age, which is such a shock, where has time gone (sadly). I have loved the past 3.5mths and I only wish I could push a pause button to slow things down a little as I know the coming months are busy and he will be eager to sit, crawl and then walk before I know it.
Many people over the several years I have been working with families have talked about the 4 month old sleep regression, it is something that has become a much-dreaded phase by many mum’s and a large part of my business.
I have never believed in talking about the different stages as regressions, rather thinking about them as progressions, what do we as parents have to think about doing differently to help babies transition into their new age and stage, what we have to do to keep good sleeping practices occurring.
George has been a great sleeper, I worked hard in the first 6-9 weeks creating positive settling and sleeping routines which paid off as he 90% of the time will self-settle and sleep deeply. However I have just started to notice over the past week that he is showing me signs I need to ‘tweak’ my routine and his activities to help him transition and progress into his 4 month old baby stage.
When they turn 4 months, it is usually the time to think of them as a baby, not a newborn; they are ready for more, for change.
Some of the things I am seeing are; waking after 30-45min occasionally, taking longer than 5min to settle to sleep and not wanting to put down to play under the same baby gym or being left alone post snuggles and feeding time and wanting to stand up or be carried around so he can look at and see the world from a different perspective.
He has found his hands and is sucking on them continuously and dribbling (time to buy more of my favourite bibs from Nature Baby), sucking his swaddle or a blanket (or anything in close reach that is soft fabric!) and is watching me eat, even has started to make me feel guilty eating in front of him as he makes sounds each time I take a mouthful! I have planted in my garden food that is ready for his up and coming move onto solid food, pumpkin, courgette, carrots and kumara and there is stone fruit growing on the trees also. He is a long lean baby and I have always been a believer that you listen to your baby when it comes to starting solids, longer leaner babies are often hungry babies and quite often are ready before the 6mth goal that is recommended.
When I see the shorter sleep cycles starting I think about the time of day they are occurring as it usually means that I need to increase their physical play, increase their visual stimulation and increase their time awake, not reacting to the usual tired signs – progressing towards an increase of time awake by 15min or so.
I start thinking about his playtime and how I balance his physical, visual and communication play out over the time he is awake. Some more sensitive babies will show a little separation anxiety, starting off with just being a grizzle but soon can become a cry and so when I have seen a little sign of this with George, I have put into practice what I have talked about with clients, ‘distract before you react’… I pick up a toy or place him near something of interest so that he is distracted, before picking him up if needed.
It is a busy time but progressive and once again, if you spend time helping them by tweaking what your usual routine was, they will transition into the next phase of development without seeing negative ‘regressions’. And it is about being prepared, I’m thinking about stocking my freezer, getting bibs in stock and starting to implement change to our daily routines that will help us in the coming weeks.