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J

We are also going through the "4-month sleep regression" even though our daughter just turned 5 months. I can attest to the difficulty in trying to first figure out what is keeping our baby awake even though she's cranky. We would do a check-off list first: hunger, gas or some other pain? If not, then why won't she sleep? And why the sudden change in sleep habits? We also went through phases where she'd sleep really well and we would also sort of boast to friends that our baby was a good sleeper. We've now been going through this sleep roller coaster since she was 20 weeks old. We have nights when she wakes up every 1- 11/2 hours, cries, we rock her for 10-60 minutes (depending on her level of wakefulness) and then she's back to sleep for another lenghty (insert sarcastic tone here) stretch of sleep (one hour or so). We've gone through anger, frustration, fear and utter exhaustion and now we are just in survival mode. My husband and I are both seriously sleep deprived, but baby seems to be thriving.
One of the most difficult things about this (and other developmental spurts that carry interrupted sleep w/ them) is that you do hear people tell you how their babies sleep through the night. A month ago I actually believed these people, but now, I know they have "parental amnesia". I used to beat up on myself for somehow failing as a mother because my kid won't "sleep through the night". Now I have stopped worrying about that altogether. If I can get a few stretches of 2-3 hour sleep a night, I am OK. That's the problem with expectations. They always let you down. So, all those people, books, magazines etc. etc. that try to tell you how much your kid should be sleeping, are pretty much crap. If I see one more email come through with the question "Is your baby sleeping through the night?" I will lose it. I don't know where these expectations started, but in no other country I can think of ( I was born outside of the US and spent a year in another country) do parents even talk about "sleep expectations." They just roll with the punches and hope for the best.
One more point and then I will stop my rant. It seems that many people are more than willing to give up sleep for work or school or hobbies. I guess it's easier to give up sleep when you are somewhat in control of how much, and when you have to do this. So those nights that I start hallucinating (last night!) from the seemingly endless lack of sleep, I force myself to remember other nights when I'd stay awake reading a book, studying or working. Now I am staying awake so I can help my daughter sleep. Yeah, I'm still tired as can be, but it helps me get some perspective on parenting, babies and sleep!!

hedra

Another memory from the depths of childhood that might help you... I can remember what it was like to be IN one of these stages (I suspect a somewhat later one, around 6 or 9 months? old enough to sit unsupported, but small enough to be carried in a laundry basket on top of the laundry on the way to the laundromat...)... remembering, for me, really helps clarify what is going on.

It isn't just the practicing the skills. While the brain is doing the rapid growth that precedes these skills even being POSSIBLE, there's a shut-down of normal processing. It becomes impossible to self-regulate. I could not shut myself down, fliter, or focus attention selectively. All channels were open, all were at full volume, all the time.

Think of it this way - if things are too bright, or too loud, you can usually find a way to block it out. Close your eyes, cover your ears, etc. Even if you can't do that, as older kids and adults, we're pretty good at kind of focussing on something else.

During these stages, there's no way to focus on anything else. Now think of it being not just one sensation that is too loud/bright/much, but ALL. OVERWHELMING. AMAZING. JOYFUL. SCARY. All at once.

I remember being carried in that laundry basket. Let me describe it to you, so you can picture what your baby may be experiencing.

As we walked, I could feel the sway of the basket forward and back, and the slight thump as it bumped against my mom's hip as she walked. It reverberated through my whole body, the sway was felt in my muscles, skeleton, sinuses... I could feel the motion like being on a giant swing, in my legs, in my arms, my hands, my chest, my head. I could feel every muscle move to adjust to the sway and bounce, over and over. I could feel the cool plastic of the basket under one hand, the softness of the laundry under my bottom, the shift and sway of my mother's hip as she walked. It was really cool to just feel that move and response, move and response, move and response, move and response...

Meanwhile, the air was cool and fresh, perfect and comfortable but cool enough to notice. It was early morning. We lived near the shore, and the air was slightly damp. The breeze flowed over my exposed arms and face and neck, moved my hair, snuck inside the back of my shirt now and then. I could feel the flow of air as an ongoing caress, endless, moving, changing, moving, caressing, temperature shifting with the changes in breeze. Meanwhile, bounce, swing, body adjust, endless enduring kiss of breeze, move, body adjust, reverberate in skull from the bunp of hip, breeze on skin, cool, hair lifts, bump, swing...

Meanwhile, the morning sun was sparkling on the grass. The grass was the most powerful, joyful green that ever was. That green still burns in my mind 40 years later, the green of new, the green of LIFE, eye-sucking, mind-numbing, pure, joyful, want-to-touch-it, want-to-eat-it, want-to-BECOME-it GREEN. Bump, sway, skin cool breeze shift sway adjust reverberate green bright green sway bump breeze shift...

Meanwhile, the dew on the grass caught the light now and then. BRILLIANT white flash, BOOM, like a firework exploding into my eyes, too bright to look at, too beautiful to look away. Bright, SHARP WHITE beauty green-green-want-the-green sway bounce reverberate cool-breeze shift adjust GREEN bright light flash damp-cool-flow-caress sway...

MEANWHILE, my mom was singing. Oh, the joy of her voice. Hearing it was like liquid love, I wanted it to never end, more more more! A bird called, her feet hit the sidewalk quietly, voice and nearness of MOTHER such sweetness filled me to bursting, green-green grass need to touch it!, bright WHITE flash, BUMP, sway breeze shift adjust song LOVE sway...

And I could not turn any one sensation off to focus on another. They bombarded me endlessly and without seam or interuption. They were beautiful, achingly perfect and full of joy, overwhelming like spilled perfume (I don't recall the scents, but I'm sure those were there, too). It was too much, I needed desperately for it to stop, and I would have wailed in despair if it had. I needed to be held to be comforted and saved from the overwhelmingness of it, and was desperate to not be touched because that would be one more thing too much. I was locked in a kind of joyful desperation as we walked. Later, not sure if the same day or another, I remember asking for that comfort of mother's arms, up and away from all the overwhelmingness of everything... and being held was sweet until it overwhelmed me too and I was equally desperate to be put down (probably only moments after begging to be picked up), followed by needing to be picked up again... And yes, I can remember my mom's frustration at the UPPIES! NO DOWNIES! UPPIES! routine... (that recollection was before I could speak, so it was arms reaching and crying, then kicking and wiggling to get down, then arms up and crying...).

The phases came like that over and over and over. I can remember them from later on, as well, though that one is the most beautiful (some of the others were just itchy/scratchy/irritating/bothersome/desperate/powerful but equally impossible to filter out or tune out or avoid). I can remember later on also learning with each stage that all my previous assumptions were possibly wrong. It was scary to realize that what I knew to be true was not true, and maybe other things might not be true, as well. At about 2, I can remember discovering that I did not actually rule the universe, that I could not change the position of the sun, not even of the sunny spot on the floor that had worked its way up the wall and would not return to the floor for me to sit in it, no matter how hard I pulled at it. I wailed in despair and rage when I realized my fundamental powerlessness, where before I had been THE Power That Was. So just the mental leaps can be pretty challenging, too, even without the physically overwhelming parts.

And yes, you also practice, compulsively and without any ability to stop yourself, everything that is developing. I recognized that gut-deep compulsion as a mother the first time I did something that made my son laugh, and I desperately needed to do it over and over, to hear that laugh again. It is more powerful than a drug, that urge to stand, to walk, to crawl, to reach, to do it oneself, to feel able, to develop those skills. It eats everything, that drive. Sleep? Sleep is secondary. MUST CRAWL. MUST BABBLE. MUST ... whatever.

Anyway, I hope that gives something of a picture of what it is like for a baby during these phases. They're amazing experiences. They're often beautiful and joyful and thick with love and passion and bliss. And they're impossible, challenging, overwhelming, intolerable, and maddening beyond belief. And they're inescapable. As a mother, remembering that I felt trapped and powerless in the grip of those experiences, I can relate. I'm as trapped as they are, and they're as trapped and desperate as I feel now, too.

Hang in there. They get farther apart and are less intense as time goes on (at least, after about 3 years old, they seem to be). But they don't stop, really, until the brain stops developing. Which is about 26 years old, or so. I didn't notice them as much myself as a teen, but I sure saw the signs externally watching my little brother go through them. Insecurity, hunkering down, compulsive behavior, neediness (especially directed at mom), sleep disruption, weird eating behavior... harder to distinguish all of that from regular teenhood, but my brother was mellow and peaceful and gentle in the world unless he was in the grip of one of those stages. Thank heavens they weren't as frequent at that age!

cheesefairy

hedra, good lord that was incredible. I've been trying to see development spurts as an acid trip my son needs to be supported through (he's 7.5 months) and your description certainly supports that. his "pull to standing using mom's hair then let go to grab at things ack I fell down NO don't change my diaper I want to WALK!" routine - new this week - was starting to seriously chafe my nards but perhaps a bit more patience can be eked from my big toe or something.

moxie, I am seriously addicted to this blog. thank you for saving my sanity these past months.

Melissa

Wow I am so glad to hear that 26 weeks is one of these spurts. I have been reading so much on your site about the NINE month phase that I thought my six month old was just really early. Of course this means she'll probably go through this again in another three months right? Sigh.

The last couple of nights at our house have been rough. She has dropped a few daytime naps recently and the other night she was EXHAUSTED but would NOT be put down for anything. I was by myself at the time and we ended up going to bed before 9 because she obviously needed to go to sleep but wouldn't do so without me. We usually put her down between 9 and 9:30, she isn't really ready before then.

Anyway, the last few nights she's been waking up in the middle of the night and I mean fully awake. She usually nurses 3-5 times a night and goes right back to sleep but the past few nights she is nursing about every hour and the waking up crying, taking forever to get back to sleep. Last night she was really snarky too - full of clear mucus that made it hard to breathe, especially while nursing. You can hear her swallowing it too which means she'll likely be spitting up a lot today.

I'm really hoping the mucus is due to teething, and not a sign of an allergy or cold. She's been really healthy (knock on something) so far. Poor little Bean!

I've been chalking this behavior up to a developmental spurt (thank god I've been reading this blog recently, it has seriously curbed my worries. I think I'd be a basket case if I hadn't read so many other's experiences about the same thing). But I was starting to worry that the timing wasn't quite right. Glad to hear 26 weeks is one of the big/noticeable ones!

mollyball

Hi J: Your post was really nice to wake up to, as they say. Well, I say "wake up." We are in the midst of sleep hell, and I think I might lose my mind. Our 7.5 month old has always been a bad sleeper, and about a week ago stopped sleeping almost entirely. I'm okay with being exhausted, but my baby is really losing it, and isn't comforted by anything except for being awake and playing with us with us, with all the lights on, even as she rubs her eyes and yawns and cries. I'm so worried about her. So I read Weissbluth and spent last night listening to hours of crying, and now we're all in a deep depression over here. Talk about guilt--Weissbluth lays it on so thick. Some of my favourites: "Warning: if your child does not learn to sleep well, he may become an incurable adult insomniac, chronically disabled from sleepiness and dependent on sleeping pills." Another doozy: "You are harming your child when you allow unhealthy sleep patterns to evolve or persist--sleep deprivation is as unhealthy as feeding a nutritionally deficient diet." I feel like my daughter and I have both been crying for about 24 hours now. Here's something the cry-it-out advocates don't tell you: it goes on all night. By which I mean, last night Lucy cried for 20 minutes to fall asleep at 6:00, then woke up after 45 minutes and cried for an hour and a half, then woke up after 2 hours and cried for 3 more hours. But the "testimonials" always describe a one-shot crying festival at the beginning of the night. I guess mothers of Freqent Night Wakers, as they're called, live ina special subdivision of Sleep Hell. Two things I've learned that are not in any books: you can't make somebody sleep if they don't want to, and you can't make somebody eat if they don't want to. Anyway, we'll be okay, and I know you guys are all busy, and it's not like I know you personally, but if anybody has anything nice to say to me (and J, and the original poster), post away--I'll be checking this link between bursts of guilt-ridden sobbing, and any kind words will really pick me up. Even if they're lies.

Melissa

mollyball - how horrible! You have my sympathy for sure.

I for one do not believe in the cry-it-out theory. It is heartbreaking to hear your child cry for you. I would like to suggest you rethink that strategy. Also, do you cosleep? Or have you tried bringing your baby into bed with you? Do you breastfeed? Can you nurse laying down? This is how my daughter falls asleep every night. Most nights I can sneak away after she is asleep and she will either keep sleeping until I am ready for bed or she will wake up and cry close enough to my bedtime that I'll just go join her and nurse her back to sleep.

Even if your child does not sleep with you maybe you could nurse her or cradle her in a rocking chair (we also use an exercise ball to bounce on while cradling our daughter), humming or singing to her to calm her until she falls asleep?

Don't believe what the books tell you. Some of them are helpful and some of them are terrible. What's more important is to listen to your daughter and try to do right by her and her needs.

Good luck to you and I hope things change for the better soon!

J

Dear Mollyball,
If it makes you feel better, I actually was so tired from the lack of sleep yesterday that when my little one wouldn't go down for her nap (even though she was CLEARLY exhausted), I left her in her crib to cry a bit while I went downstairs, took our mail and threw it against the wall. (Better than something breakable, right?) There! I got it out of my system. Then I proceeded to cry because I was (again) too tired and too frustrated to pull myself together to go upstairs and help my daughter fall asleep. 15 minutes went by during which I cried some more. Then I finally gathered up my last shreds of energy, went to her, and rocked her to sleep. My lesson is that our little darlings will drive us to insanity and as Moxie said, they will break you down. So, I was broken down, but at least I no longer feel guilty or alone in this. Not getting enough sleep WILL drive a person to do crazy things. It is a form of torture that is (was?) used so how can we be blamed for our reactions to it??
You will get through it even if it takes a daily crying session. It could be worse..we could be drowning our misery into alcohol or drugs. P.S. Occasional junk food also helps...

mollyball

Hi Melissa--thanks for the nice note. We've tried cosleeping and nursing to sleep, but she's always done better in her crib and hasn't dozed off at the breast in months, even though I almost always nurse her lying down. When I say that nothing calms her except for getting up and hanging out, I really mean it. Your post is so kind and supportive and I don't mean to sound snarky, but of course I've tried rocking and humming! That made me laugh (in a nice way--again, no snark intended). But it was a sad laugh, because it made me realize to what extent I've run out of ideas. You're so right about the books, and you're right to remind me to listen to my daughter. I love this blog. And I really appreciated your nice message.

Davida

Oh, mollyball, your comment makes my heart hurt. I haven't gotten to that stage yet (4 mo here), so I don't have any practical advice to offer. (Okay, I have one suggestion: Have you tried standing in the bathroom with the shower running? It works wonders with my wee one.)

But I do know that YOU are the one there with your daughter, not any of the experts, and so they mustn't be allowed to make you feel guilty.

So I offer this missive to Dr. Weissbluth: Kiss my stretch-marked ass. How dare you make exhausted new parents feel worse about themselves?! Mollyball and her partner are the perfect parents for Lucy, and the fact that she is most happy playing with them shows that she trusts them. And that trust is way more important than sleep. And no matter what you say, Lucy will sleep through the night once she's in high school (except for those nights where she procrastinated her homework for too long). So shut your mouth.

Shandra

Wow you guys in sleep hell! I'm just posting to support you.

My guy has never been a great sleeper (17 months now) although he's not awful either - he's now down to getting me up 2-3 times a night. He can put himself to sleep from awake in his crib. Sometimes he wakes up (I hear him get up), plays, and goes back to sleep.

So much for the theory it's about learning to go back to sleep on his own!!

My new theory for /my/ child is that if we try to intervene in his natural need to connect with us a time or two in the middle of the night, he just gets upset and sleeps less. Some kids do, I think, need to cry a bit and then go to sleep. My child is the reverse. If he gets a hug and a boob he'll be asleep in ten minutes. Left alone, he'll be up that night, and no nap, and the next night on 'alert.'

I truly believe it's just part of his personality. I -really- don't buy this theory that kids HAVE to learn how to sleep well the one true way OR ELSE. I slept wonderfully as a baby and now I have sleep problems. My sister never slept as a baby and she sleeps great now.

I personally decided that I wouldn't do anything at night that I wouldn't do during the day.

I hope you both/all are arranging things so you can sleep sometimes too. I know how hard that is. For me that's been the trick though - to let other things go and prioritize sleep. It sucks, but hopefully it's short lived.

Melissa

No worries mollyball and I agree 100% with Davida. Only you can know what's best for your baby. I hope that you get some comfort out of knowing that you aren't alone and that it will end (an excellent mantra), though days may go by where it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

If nothing else, you have awesome ammunition for guilt trips when she's a teenager. :-)

My little Bean also does not like to be put down. As a general rule she prefers to be carried. She'll sit and play by herself for maybe 10-15 minutes. She'll sit and play with one of us for maybe 10-15 minutes. After that, it's all about being held. I've been told this will delay her learning to crawl/walk. But you know what? I don't care! This is likely the only baby I will ever have and I am going to suck up and cherish every baby moment. (Of course this may change in a couple of months when I am in your shoes!).

Of course it's harder to enjoy anything when they cry and you are exhausted but just remember how fast they grow and take comfort in the fact that you are doing the best you can for your baby.

I hope things change for the better soon. In the meantime, just keep playing pass the baby with your partner!

hedra

Oh, Mollyball, I hear ya. My oldest... well, he was never what anyone would call a 'good sleeper'.

You've checked into physical issues, I'm assuming? Poor Gabe, he had so many (mostly minor but overlapping) physical issues that sleep was just not a friend to him.

His list, off the top of my head:

reflux (silent, NEVER was a spitty baby)
spinal issues (long labor, malpositioned slightly, neck curved badly to one side but held it straight on his own... x-ray showed it wasn't, though, and you'd think I'd KNOW if my child was twisted sideways about an inch!)
low body temp (needed cool to COLD room air to be comfortable, breaks a heat rash at 72 degrees)
sensory processing disorder (overwhelmingly acute sensory systems, like being stuck in that developmental stage for life, but only for some sensory systems)
apnea (snoring, night sweats)
food allergies
enviornmental allergies

I think that's the main list. Anyway, we solved each one, one at a time. Chiropractic changed his life - at 4 years old, he was so tired during the day, and so uncomfortable physically (neck), that he would sit quietly and watch the other kids play on the playground at school. When the teachers said that, I knew something serious was wrong. What 4 year old doesn't PLAY? I figured on allergies (family history), but at a friend's urging, tried chiropractic first. HOLY MOLY. I didn't tell the teachers. Two weeks later, he was sleeping through the night, not falling out of bed anymore (very active sleeper when asleep), stopped snoring, stopped night sweating (apnea sign), and I asked the teachers how he was doing. They asked what we'd done. He was now no-longer borderline ADHD (they hadn't mentioned that to us, dangit!), but was now focused in the morning, out on the monkey bars at recess, and was even kinder, sweeter, gentler, and happier than ever. Took me four years to get there. ARGH.

And then we had proof that it wasn't coincidence a while later, when he hit his head, required stitches, required 6 people to hold him down with his neck rotated while he got them, and on the drive home, started snoring again for the first time. Restless night, slept poorly, etc., etc. Back to chiropractic, back to no more snoring again! WOO! Not that snoring is the defining characteristic, but it is ONE of them.

Sensory issues, changed the sheets (flannel worked better for him).

Added a sippy cup of water (he was also thirsty).

Added a room HEPA filter.

Etc. It wasn't just one thing. It was everything.

Anyway, having done that, we started the other kids on chiropractic at 6 weeks. Okay, so Brendan didn't need it much - he was also sleeping 5 hour stretches at 5 weeks. But still, I keep an eye out.

The answer might not be Chiropractic, or allergies (dairy allergy manifests as sleeplessness in many kids, BTW - study out of Johns Hopkins showed that it took 5 weeks of total dairy avoidance, even traces, for sleep behavior to change, but it DID change, and reverted on re-exposure, too). It could be something else. The point is that while it could just be 'smart child, refuses to sleep when other options exist' it could also be something physical that needs some sorting out.

Which isn't much help right now, I know. Being mommy-detective when sleep-deprived is NOT fun. BTDT, pried my eyes open at 2 AM to write fuzzily in the sleep journal 'woke, cried, fed, 2:scribble AM'... so I'll offer you hugs, as well. It isn't fun.

Erin

Mollyball - around here, we like to chant "Perfect timing means no crying!" (from Weissbluth, for you non-initiates) with big, manic rictuses (ricti?) frozen on our faces every time the bean wails in her crib. Oh, the laughs we have! Seriously, though, we never tried CIO at night but only for about a week with naps. It didn't "work" (she was a little too young but we were desperate because I was going back to work) but it gave us some really valuable data (literally - we kept a log of *everything* the baby did) to work with about how our baby can and can not calm herself. We took that data, came up with a modified plan where some times of the day we put her in her crib and walk away, other times we lie down with her, other times we put her in the swing, etc., etc. and we now have - at the moment - a fairly good sleeper.

My special hatred is reserved for Pantley - all I could think when reading that book in my crazed sleep-deprived haze, the week before I was to go back to work, was, "if the baby slept in her stroller, or infant seat, or car seat, or whatever, why would I be wasting my time with this stinking book?" I now realize my bile was situation-induced. But sometimes it just helps to hate a stranger!

Marsha

I'm a new mom and new to this blog. I found this blog when I was searching changed sleep patterns in four-month old babies. My DD is still in the throes of one herself and she's almost five months now.

One tidbit that helped me with the fallout from sleep deprivation last night is some advice I read somewhere (maybe here?!)--our babies are not enjoying whatever sleep disruptions, tantrums, or whatever else is making us parents want to pull our hair out in frustration/fatigue either.

Last night my DD and I struggled for an hour to help her sleep. She was desperately nursing non-stop, whacking my face constantly with a fabulous right-arm swing and just generally annoyed at the situation. I just held on to the advice above and it gave me just that one extra oz of strength to help us both get through it.

This isn't to say that I couldn't see myself also throwing around the mail (it's a smart thing to know when to walk away for a moment). I was close to that last night too because my partner had been gone for over 24hrs straight at that point clearing snow and I couldn't get his help.

This isn't meant to say "just find more strength in yourself" because that isn't always possible--but I guess I'm always looking for ways to hang on one extra second in this new challenge called motherhood and that advice helped me last night. One night down, many to go!

LEB

I have a 17 week old son who has also given up sleeping (I'm fairly easygoing but could do without the 2 hours of screaming for no discernable reason), he doesn't think napping is something relevant to him either.

Just relating - this too shall pass (I hope).

mollyball

Don't you love it here? Where else could you post a problem in the morning--with a request for comfort--and by dinnertime have a bunch of compassionate, intelligent responses from smart, sassy women from all over the globe? Thanks, everybody! It just feels better to know I'm not totally alone. Those books make it sound so easy, they can make you feel like the only person in the world with a Professional Sleep Resister for a child. Erin's right--making fun Weissbluth is super fun, and we do it a lot over here too--our favourite is to say, "Gee, we must have missed her Sleep Propensity Window," every time Lucy is having a festival of screaming in our arms/faces. Anyway, today was better. We had a real, cry-free nap, a few really quality tickle parties, and an excellent session with the red bear. Now she's asleep! I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine and find some mail to throw around.

Scotti

I feel for all over-tired, worn-out mamas out there. Having a baby who doesn't sleep is your own private hell. I second all of the frustrations about developmental milestones. When my son was learning to crawl he was up every 1-2 hours screaming inconsoleably - for two solid weeks!
He's 11 months now and some blessed nights he only wakes up once, but if he's even a little bit sick or feels a twinge of teething pain, watch out.

I especially second Hedra's comment about chiropractic care for babies. I had never seen a chiropractor myself but when my son had serious nursing problems that 6 weeks of visits to an amazing lactation consultant couldn't fix, I tried craniosacral therapy with a pediatric chiropractor. The results were virtually instantaneous. And she's had great luck for us with ear infections -- and I know it's worked for other moms I know with serious sleep problems. If you're searching for a new idea, give it a try. They use very light pressure (less than the weight of a nickel).

Charisse

hey mollyball & J & everyone,

I used to tell myself I was going to embroider a sampler with "this tooth shall pass" on it. I had a fine sleeper when nothing was wrong, but teething, minor illness, diaper rash, development, whatever, would always have my little Mouse up half the night. And nothing but nursing in the rocking chair would do. It so sucks, and you're doing so well! But it will, will, will, will pass. And next time she will be a little better at showing what the problem is, so it will be more comprehensible and easier to help.

I think the books about expectations are bizarre in that they're linear--your child will sleep longer and longer stretches until bingo! they're sleeping through the night forever (unless you're a horrible, negligent parent of course). What a load of BS!! We got scared with every regression/issue that something had somehow gotten permanently messed up, but it hadn't--it would sometimes take longer than we thought it should, but she always went back to normal when the tooth came in/diaper rash cleared up/skill got learned/transition to new care situation got settled/whatever it was.

Your babies will be OK. Just try and take good care of yourselves, rest as much as you can, and know that you're doing great. There are various things you can try, but no one of them is necessarily right for you, and sometimes the idea that you "should be doing something about this" is worse than just getting through it. Hang in there!!

btw, this is from a now-well-rested mom of an almost-3

Lisa

Just to add fuel to the fire: I edit books (among other things) for a living. Weissbluth can't write, edit, or organize his information worth a damn. I threw that book against the wall after about 20 pages; it should have been five. Then I fed it into the recycling bin, one handful of pages at a time.

And now? At one year, T. wakes up between two and three times a night, sometimes more if he's sick or teething. I'm tired but coherent. He'll sleep through eventually. That's good enough for me, and we're not going to fix what ain't broken. It's a lot easier if you aren't feeling guilty, huh?

Amy

You beautiful souls! I have SO been there, and done that! I technically still am (my four year old woke up crying 3 times last night and ended up on the floor beside our bed - nothing 'wrong', just wanted his Daddy). I remember crying, while I rocked him as an infant. WHY wouldn't he sleep?! What is wrong with him/me/us/everything? Nothing. It's the way he is, and still is at FOUR YEARS OLD. But those days where I was sleep-deprived, and frustrated...seems like a deep distant past. I guess I'm saying in a long-winded way; What is so obsessive right now will be a speck in the rear-view mirror before you realize it. Then you'll wonder why it seemed like such a big deal at the time, and want ANOTHER baby.

laury

Mollyball, I so feel for you. You know there's no magic answer, of course! We hate Weissbluth too, and even Pantley. Fwiw, the only thing I really learnt in 13 months of night waking was that the baby changes all the time. Sometimes just when things were getting absolutely desperate, something would click for us & him - we'd leave him for 2 minutes, or try a buggy nap or something - and we'd get through that stage. Til the next one. It's almost harder NOT to do CIO than to do it, it is pushed so hard. It's even worse when it doesn't work. But what I found was that sometimes, our boy needed to be told that he could sleep - and we'd kiss him and go, and come back every 2 minutes (or more), and put him back down til he stayed down. It didn't take long and I felt better because he knew we were there. It seemed to make a huge difference smiling (I know this sounds hypocritical) and telling him, knowing that he could do it. Other times this didn't work at all and that's when I figured he just wasn't ready yet. Good luck, and don't worry too much - you will not break your child. And she will not break you.

Kate

Ha. Big hugs, Mollyball. We are going through the 26-week sleep regression right now, compounded by: returning from 2 weeks of overseas travel (8 time zones), gaining 2 teeth, learning to crawl, and pulling to stand. Plus, when we returned, my husband had to go on a 3-day business trip, so I was left alone with the baby. Perfect storm, anyone?

(NB: One good thing about having one's mother 8 time zones away is that one can call sobbing in the middle of the night and know that no one is being inconvenienced!)

I have been lazy about birth control (not that we're really going after it or anything) since Baby has never slept longer than 2-hour stretches, and I see no signs of my fertility returning. This sleep regression has made me make the appointment to get things Taken Care Of. Right NOW. I cannot do this again any time soon, especially not by accident.

Alyse

Like several of you, I found this thread while searching for information about sleep changes in a four-month-old. My DD turned four months old yesterday. From five weeks old until about three weeks ago, she was a great sleeper. She'd go down at about 9:30 and sleep anywhere from five to eight hours straight, followed by another 3-4-hour stretch. Yes, I got spoiled. Very spoiled. And yes, I believe that saying how great a sleeper she was has jinxed me to where I am now.

So where am I now? Well, all of a sudden, DD started waking up after 2-4 hours of sleep. She did this for about a week. Her bedtime routine didn't change at all. Bath, bottle, bed. But slowly over the past few weeks her bedtime has started creeping later and later, despite starting the bedtime routine at the same time. Last night, she didn't go to sleep until midnight (I started trying to put her down at 8:00, mind you...) and she was up at 2:00, 5:00 and 7:30. And in between those wakings, I have to pump (she can't latch, so I exclusively pump), which gives me even less sleep time and thus, makes me all the more tired.

I'm a fixer. I keep telling myself I can fix this! I thought she may be teething, so I gave her teething tablets and Tylenol. That didn't help. I thought she may have gas, so I gave her gas drops. That didn't help. I thought she might be hungry, so I fed her. That didn't help. I thought she might be wet, so I changed her. That didn't help.

After that, I ran out of ideas.

I guess what's frustrating is that there's no rhyme or reason for her sleep changes. She went from being a great sleeper to a bad sleeper for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON that I can think of! And the more sleep deprived I become, the more frustrating that thought is! And while I know it could be worse, I still get so upset about my inability to get DD to sleep!

After reading all of your posts, I do feel better, so thank you! Especially the posts where you all bash Dr. Weissbluth. His advice makes me feel like the world's worst mom! I just keep telling myself that this, too, shall pass. I just hope it happens sooner, rather than later...for all of us.

childpsych

HI everyone,
I, too, am having trouble with my 4 month old. She was sleeping well till about a week ago, and now she wakes up every hour or two throughout the night. Most of the time she needs her pacifier, but sometimes even that doesn't help. I think she's teething, because she always acts hungry (tries to stuff anything around her in her mouth) but pushes away from the bottle when I give it to her.
I'm still trying to figure out what will help, but I do want to say that I don't believe in crying it out for every kid either. Some kids do fine with that strategy-- they cry a few minutes and then settle down. Other kids-- like mine-- are "high needs" kids and they do NOT settle down. They just get overly upset and the crying just escalates. For all you parents of high- needs kids like mine, I urge you to rethink crying-it-out, too. For kids like that, all you're teaching them is that they don't matter, that they're alone in the world when they need you. Even if after a few days of crying they do fall asleep, it's sure to affect them negatively later. Think about yourself in the situation-- if you're crying so much because you're upset about something, and your husband (or whoever) doesn't come in to comfort you, then yes, you may eventually stop crying, but what you've learned is that your husband (or whoever) is not there for you. It translates into feeling as if you're alone in the world and feeling as if you don't matter. Again, some kids do fine with crying it out, but if they NEED you emotionally (aka. high needs kids) then they will not. Being physically ok is not enough for these kids.
I'm still trying to figure out what to do for my munchkin, but crying it out is not an option for her. I'll let you know if I find what works!!!!!!!!
Just remember that each kid is an individual, and they didn't read all these books we talk about!!!!!They're just trying to figure things out too. LOL.

Jessie

This is so helpful to hear! One of my twin boys is up every 4 hours at night screaming and I come in and he is trying to crawl, babbling! Frustrating to me but after reading your comments, now I want to LAUGH!

Natividad Mercedes

My 7 years old is a highly sensitive child. Unfortunately, in our society, this is often seen as weakness. I am not really sure how to handle it sometimes. I know that if I handle the situations different than she won't have these major meltdowns. The smallest things set her off and very often she cries. I really do not know what to do.

She is a wonderful child and I want to learn how to help her . She's does excellent in school and gets along well with others.I have spent the past few months wondering what I had done wrong. I spend my time praising her and telling her how proud I am of her. Any advise would be very helpful.

The crying is really beginning to get to me.

Meg

Hi Natividad. I just have to respond because though I have no medical background, I was a highly sensitive child growing up. The littlest things seemed like the most overwhelming, and my body's response was always to cry. I had no control over it whatsoever, and as I got older, I felt constantly frustrated by it, and guilty as well.

I was always a straight A student, got along with others, though was a little shy at first. It was just this crying situation. The worst thing for me was to be punished for it, because it only increased my feelings of failure. However, praise never made me feel better either - I just felt ashamed.

What worked best (my mother was amazingly patient with this, and I am forever grateful) was when I got into one of my crying fits, she would sit with me, sternly address me to try to "snap me out of it," and then make me talk it through, to bring everything into perspective. It helped me to see whatever had happened from a rational rather than an emotional perspective, and feel better almost instantly.

I have to say that my hyper-sensitivity gradually lessened as I got older (and I became able to cope on my own, though it remained a nuisance because no one seemed to understand that I couldn't control that initial "cry response" - try as I might) but it really lasted until I became pregnant with my son just over a year ago.

Suddenly there were two pink lines and I didn't struggle with it anymore (and there was great rejoicing!!). I chalk it up to hormone shifts!

Anyhow, I guess I just wanted to write because your daughter sounds so similar to me growing up and I just remember how frustrated and out of control and guilty I felt. It's nothing you've done wrong, it's just how she is, and it's ok. The most important thing is to have patience (as much as you can), and above that, always let her know how much you love her. That is a balm for any hurt.

PS I've managed to have a successful, happy life so far and am blessed with a loving husband and son. Looking back, it's just one of life's challenges that I had to face.

Best of luck. :o)

Michelle Sherwood

What great comments!!
Our 9 month old son is having a lot of problems with sleep the last few weeks. Your comments have made me feel like I am a good mom and not a total idiot!! I was feeling so confused about what to do with our son, but all I can do for him is love him and be there for him when he needs me. Thank you!!

Abbey

I'm a little late to this party, but I wanted to let you all know that I found this blog through a google search. I was searching "4 month old was sleeping great and now wakes up every two hours." Hahah. What a search. But I'm thrilled to read about SO many of you with my "problem." I put that in quotes now because I'm not convinced it is a problem, rather a phase that my little dude will work through. If he could sleep once, it's my belief that he'll sleep again. Unfortunately, he requires being tightly swaddled in the Miracle Blanket (which he's FAR too big for, but we leave his little legs free in a sleep sack) - I'm eager for him to NOT need this anymore, but for the time being, it's necessary. And because he can roll around now, he's between two wedges of a sleep positioner. So funny, I know. But I'm also a fixer. And along the way, these have all become little fixes to my little guys "problem." I'm glad to hear that you all don't really subscribe to all the sleep book hullabulloo - I too have read these books and find much of what works to be second nature to mothers. I DO NOT subscribe to the cry-it-out method. For my little guy, it's not an option - nor is it an option for my blood pressure. I certainly don't judge those that have tried it and had success...it's just not for us. So, after all that, I have a little guy that slept great and now doesn't sleep so great. I'm glad to know there are more of you out there. I'm glad to know I'm not alone. I'm glad to know my guy is normal. And I'm hopeful that this post isn't so old that people stop posting to it. Great support system. A million thanks.

issakova

Hey Abbey, i'm very late to this party too, and have stumbled upon this post using a very similar search "4 month old not sleeping".

Thank you all soooo much, this morning i was feeling so depressed and negative, I came to work feeling like a failure because my son was awake almost all night, with no sign of hunger/pain or discomfort. I just felt like such a loser for not knowing how to deal with this.

Thanks to your posts, I will take it easy, and take things as they come, one day at a time, trying to enjoy my baby as much as possible and arming myself with as much patience as possible for the difficult times.

Abbey

After I posted last week about how hard the past few days had been, things got a little better. I've figured out that my babe doesn't do well with a lot of stimulation during the day. So Sundays, after lots of kids and children come over for football and food, he sleeps terribly at night. This is a pattern. On Monday it's a little better, on Tuesday a little better than Monday, etc. By Friday, he's a champ. Right on cue, yesterday night was a nightmare. I expect tonight to be rough too. Perhaps it's a combination of "THE PHASE" and over stimulation - it's definitely not helping matters. I don't know if this will help you issakova, but it's worth a shot! I'm actually going to try an entire evening WITHOUT the television on AT ALL. Usually I have the news on while I'm making dinner, maybe a little while he plays on the floor (we have a small place). Tonight will be the test. I'll let you know how the "low stimulation" test goes. I hope your nights get better! I just keep repeating the mantra, "it's a phase, it's just a phase..." Every day that passes is one less day of the phase. And that's a good thing!

actoocool

This morning I was so tired I was actually wondering if it would be safe for me to get behind the wheel. My 4-month-old used to be such a good little sleeper, but the past 3 weeks have been awful. She doesn't have a problem going to sleep (most nights), but she will not stay asleep for the entire night. She has started teething, so I am wondering if that has something to do with it. It is comforting to know that this is a phase and it too shall pass. Thanks to all for your posts.

Tara

I have a 16 week old boy who sleeps for only 30 minutes a stretch, and takes only about 3-4 naps a day, and it is hard to get him to take them. he seems so cranky after being awake after 1/2 hour, and always rubs his eyes, yawns,and fusses. i know he is still tired, but does not sleep well. at night he is asleep by 7:30 or so, but wakes throughout the night, and is up in the morning by 4:30-6 am. there is no consistency in his schedule, and all i hear is he needs a consistent schedule. but how do i do that when there is no consistency to begin with? i know he is fussy b/c he is not getting enough sleep. he needs to be rocked or nursed to sleep, and even then he fights it. he won't sleep in his crib, only in a swing or my bed with me. and he has reflux and colic. i feel like the world's worst mother. we tried CIO, as suggested by his pediatrician. but it made things worse, and it broke my heart. i don't judge those who use it, but i just don't belive in it for myself. i am at wit's end on what to do!

Abbey

Tara, I totally feel you... I am so sorry your baby is having a hard time sleeping. I've finally gotten to the point where mine will wake once to eat in the middle of the night, and then be up for good at around 7:00. However, getting him to sleep these days has been difficult, to say the least. I get him ready - I give him a bath, a bottle, a book, and a little rocking with his pacifier...then I wrap him up and he FLIPS out. Like he's being pinched to death. WAILING. Now, I've heard of fighting it, but this is knock-down-drag-out. He's pissed. I have NO idea what he's doing. Today, I stayed home a little later and helped out our caregiver (we do a nanny-share) while she put the other baby down to sleep - babies are at our house this week. I noticed my little one getting sleepy so I got him ready for a nap. I took his little pants off, his socks - changed his diaper. I even got him in the sleep sack. But right on cue, after I'd swaddled him, he lost his mind. I rocked him. I hugged him. I walked him around. I bounced him and ssssshhhhed him. The only thing that worked? When I handed him off to the caregiver. My heart BROKE in half. I walked out of the house without saying goodbye and cried on my bus ride to work.

Tara, try reading the No Cry Sleep Solution - it has some good ideas, I think. As with most sleep books, I think you need to take what they say, apply it to your life, and see what works. There are a lot of stories in there that sound like yours - and it might inspire you to try some new things. I found it kind of inspiring, even though I didn't buy into it hook line and sinker. I also think it sounds like he's in THAT PHASE. Every day that passes is another day less of THAT PHASE. You can do it! We can all do it!

At least, that's what I keep repeating to myself. ;)

Jenna

My daughter is just about 6 months old. She has been a perfect sleeper until just about 2 weeks ago. She will NEVER sleep in her crib. She would rather sit up, exhausted, barely crying because she is so tired, than just falling asleep. It breaks my heart when she starts crying because I've heard people say they need to cry it out. Is over 1 hour of non stop fussing "crying it out"? I think I cry more when she cries. So.. I gave in and she sleeps in the bed with me. There are some nights when she wont even go to bed at all, and she barely knaps during the day now. The ONLY thing I have found that helps her, is, as much as it is a hassle, going for a drive. I put her in the car, tuck her in tight and play soothing music for about 15 minutes. It's the only thing that will work for me. I hope this helps

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This morning I was so tired I was actually wondering if it would be safe for me to get behind the wheel. My 4-month-old used to be such a good little sleeper, but the past 3 weeks have been awful. She doesn't have a problem going to sleep (most nights), but she will not stay asleep for the entire night. She has started teething, so I am wondering if that has something to do with it. It is comforting to know that this is a phase and it too shall pass. Thanks to all for your posts.

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Well your strategy certainly seems to be working for you my friend. I should really think about mimicking or “at least” trying a few of the things you do more often.

carmen campbell

I do realize this is an old post, but, oh my goodness - it's such a relief to read of other people with the same concerns that I have. My son was sleeping quite well up until about 3-4 weeks ago and has been getting progressively worse and completely unpredictable. He was 4 months old last week. He gets crankier as the day goes on as he refuses to nap for more than 20-30 minutes some days and he is eating less too. I have no idea what the deal is. I had been telling myself that it's teething, but now I'm not sure. Teething tablets, advil, baby anbesol don't seem to calm him down. I can't see it being tummy troubles as he seemed okay for the first few months of his life. Besides, I've tried gripe water, oval drops and patting, rubbing his back for what feels like ages. I feed him, change him and burp him at night when he wakes so often and he still cries. I've tried pumping and rolling his little legs to get gas out and that doesn't always work. He does seem very insistent on trying to sit up already and stand when he is given the opportunity with some support. He isn't rolling over yet, but can roll to his side. I feel like the worst mother if I let him cry for more than 5 minutes, but I have to do it somedays just so I can go in the other room and have a cry. I hate the thought of my peanut being unhappy and feel like a failure for not being able to "fix it". I wish I knew what was going on in his little mind. I just can't fathom what it's like to be so young and learning so much so fast. I suppose it could be very overwhelming and frustrating for the little guy.

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  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
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