The past month I have been working with lots of clients who have little babies between the age of four and seven months. There is so much going on around this age, but this doesn't mean that we can't improve sleep. So, lets have a look at what's going on around these few months.
Firstly, its that horrifying, scary, anxiety inducing four month regression! Now, some babies sail through this, others struggle. If you have a baby who hasn't reached this age yet 9happens between 3 and 5 months), please don't worry, people do like to overexaggerate, and often don't understand why its such a wobbly time!
Firstly, lets see it as a progression, rather than a regression. At this age, what happens is the baby's sleep cycle matures to the same sleep cycles we have as adults. This is a huge change for the. They learn day from night, produce their own melatonin, and they just don't sleep as much, or as solidly, as they used to. You may experience frequent night waking, short naps, and distracted feeding during the dal. Four month olds are learning so much about hem at the same time as their sleep cycle changes, including rolling, babbling, they notice more, and start exploring with their hands (ever noticed you baby trying to fit his fist in his mouth?!).
My top advice for this age-maximise your sleep, take support and help from others, ask for help, and remember that it won't last. Focus on connection, responsiveness, and that your little baby is still so teeny, they just need you! Our little darlings have been inside for 9 months, so four months out isn't a long time really is it? Everything is so new to them which is why we approach changes at a very slow and gentle pace. We are still learning a lot about ourselves as parents, as well as who our little ones are.
Now between five and seven months development is coming on in leaps and bounds You have sitting, rolling, crawling, bum shuffling, chatting, all sorts, and unfortunately your little one may wake in the night to practice these skills! Offer lots of time to practice during the day and hope they do it less at night! Of course, some babies will sleep straight through but quite honestly, it's just a handful. If you have one of these babies, that's wonderful! But if you don't, please be reassured that you are most definitely not alone!
Another reason why sleep may be a huge pain in the butt is because sleep needs can HUGELY drop after the four month changes. Want to know by how much? UP TO TWO HOURS!!! That's a huge number! Especially if you've been putting your babies to sleep like they were before the changes! For reference, that's what we did and I had no idea at the time! And if you know my Felix, you know that he has VERY low sleep needs, which is why we had a lot of issues with frequent night waking, nap refusals and all the rest!
At six months, the weaning journey may begin! This should be a fun, exciting, happy journey, so try to keep it stress free. I let the pressure, stress, and comparisons get to me, as well as some very unhelpful advice from professionals. So please trust me when I say, just enjoy it! Make it fun, sociable, and if they don't want to eat, don't worry! They will get there in the end! Now with weaning, you may also find night waking. This can be due to making up for missing calories in the day (if filling up on foods and not getting enough milk in), and reactions to foods. Try maximise those feeds and keep a diary of any reactions. I would love for every mother that reads this to please avoid the stress and upset I went through by following this advice, because weaning was not a positive journey and if I could go back I would change so much!
An seven months! Know what I'm going to say? Yep, it's prime time for separation anxiety! In fact, this is the age where babies start to learn that they are no longer a physical part of their mothers. Must be hard for them, huh? You may experience clingyness, waking to seek you out, wanting to be close for every nap, and also during the night. Felix would only sleep with his head in my armpit for this phase-odd choice of place right?! Separation can be extremely full on, so try and get your baby to spend time with others, it will take the pressure off. Encourage your baby to explore within close proximity to you, but with others so that they accept them as safe, familiar caregivers. Encourage others to be involved in bedtime (before this age if possible, it will make it so much easier!). Again, this is something I didn't do. I did it all, felt the pressure, ended up really struggling through the separation anxiety.
Do whatever you need to go to get through it, and always remember there are no bad habits, no rods, just keep supporting your little ones. Anything you do to get through the tough times can be changed when you want, or need to.
And remember, you are not alone! So many mothers will be facing the same challenges you face. So many mothers will be struggling, feel like it's all on them, be exhausted and fed up. But, I'm hoping that if I can help you learn from my mistakes, issues, and struggles, you can have a more positive start to your parenting journey.
How have you found these few months?
Love to you all