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“By 3 months he was sleeping 10 or 11 hours overnight … then at 4 months everything changed. He would cry the moment we put him down.”

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Sleep regression is real, and it’s a total nightmare

Julianna, New York

Tully was sleeping 6-8 hours per night by the time he was 6 weeks old. We had a pretty consistent routine - we’d say “goodnight”, tell him we were in the next room, and put him down. He’d zone out on something and go to sleep. We were really happy he could self-sooth and get himself off to sleep. By 3 months he was even sleeping for 10 or 11 hours, we thought we’d cracked it.

Then at 4 months everything changed. He would cry the moment we put him down. I don’t know what the trigger was. I’d gone back to work, we’d taken a pretty long trip, it could have been anything for all we knew. We went to the paediatrician, and he just said “Sorry guys, this is normal.” He said around this age they become more aware - of their own surroundings, of you, of whether you’re in the room. He said it was a pretty important stage and now was the time to start sleep training. We had to go back to square one, and he made it clear we should start straight away. He didn’t call it the ‘cry it out’ method but it did involve crying, and it was awful.

Julianna

We would put Tully down, leave him for a short interval, then go back in to settle him and put him down again, even if he was still crying. I had to put earphones on or do the washing up with the water running loudly so I couldn’t hear him. We would never leave him for long, but it felt awful. It took ages to accept that it’s ok for him to cry. He has everything he needs, we just need to reassure him, and help him figure out how to sleep. It’s going to involve some crying at first but very quickly it does become his new routine - the crying is better by the second or third night.

We’ve done sleep training ‘successfully’ about 5 times now! That sounds weird, but we left it a bit too late to start with, and there are so many interruptions. We just about crack it, but then we either take a trip or he’s sick and ends up in bed with us for a night or two. Then we have to start over again. I remember saying to a friend last time that happened “I’m breaking every rule. I know I am, but for sanity’s sake there’s no other choice.” Sometimes you just need to get some sleep, and if bringing them in your bed makes that happen, that’s what you’ve got to do.

I was surprised (and probably a bit relieved) to hear from so many others that they are going through the very same thing, and have made many of the same choices.

But that’s just being a parent. There’s always something you could do differently! You just have to pick the rules or advice that make sense to you, and apply them in a way that works. That, and having a ton of patience, is about the only thing we can do, right?