The Eight Month Sleep Regression and Us
I had an idea, when I sat down to write this, that the four month sleep regression hadn't been that bad. I remembered Matilda needing to cry for about five minutes before going to sleep and I remembered that that felt absolutely unbearable, but I didn't remember any major changes to her sleep patterns or middle of the night struggles.
Steve soon put me right.
I found that reassuring, though. If I had so completely forgotten the trauma of the four month sleep regression, I would forget about the eight month one, too.
And, actually, it helped to put the eight month one into perspective. Comparatively, it hasn't been that bad. I'm not convinced that it's over yet (so there's still the potential for things to get worse) but, so far, we've been getting off fairly lightly.
Somebody remind me of that at four in the morning, please.
Matilda's "eight month" sleep regression started a little before eight months and was clearly related to her learning to crawl and stand. Suddenly, she was waking up at night a lot and pulling herself straight up to standing; she was doing this more or less in her sleep then crying because she didn't know how to get back down under the covers. As exhausting as it was having to get up every hour to deal with this, all she needed was a quick kiss and to be tucked back in; she would fall asleep again instantly.
Well, most of the time... There were a handful of hour long sobbing fits and one evening spent scrolling through Twitter in her pitch black bedroom with a sleeping baby slung over my shoulder because she wouldn't sleep lying down. For one week, she ended up in bed with us six nights out of seven because it was the only way she'd sleep through.
Meanwhile, her usual predictable 7:30 wake up became a thing of the past.
But none of this was (or is) that bad. Not compared to the four month regression. Not compared to what some of our friends went through at this point.
No, the tricky bit was the daytime.
The eight month sleep regression often ties in with babies dropping down to two naps a day. Matilda had dropped down to two naps shortly before seven months and I remember feeling so pleased about this - "this should be her into a routine for at least six months!" I had crowed to myself.
More fool me.
Matilda plunged down to one nap a day. To be honest, I would have been quite glad if this was a permanent change - we currently have to squeeze all of her activities in between 11am-2pm which is tricky when you don't drive and all of the baby groups start at half ten - but it doesn't seem to be; she seems to be back to two naps now.
On the plus side: at least she's no longer exhausted.
While all of this was going on, naps became a real battle. Half the time, no amount of writhing and wailing and jiggling would get her morning nap to happen; the other half, it would last ten minutes. Her afternoon nap could only be achieved by knocking her out with a bottle of milk (in the "having her drink herself to sleep" sense, not "caveman club style") and would last either thirty minutes in the cot or two hours in my arms (although it was quite nice to cuddle a sleeping baby again!).
Because her naps were all over the place, she was often worn out by bedtime. For the first time since she was tiny, she was falling asleep on her after-dinner bottle of milk; this made putting her to bed really easy but always, always meant a very broken night. On the nights when she didn't conk out on the bottle, she would sleep much better... but only after an hour and a half of battling against being put to bed.
I reached the point where I was dreading trying to get her to sleep - whether for naps or at bedtime. I was so damn tired of having to fight a so damn tired baby who would much rather use her cot as a trampoline than a place to sleep.
I was also exhausted from getting up multiple times a night to tuck her back in. There were a couple of crying fits because I didn't think I would cope while Steve was away at work. Luckily, Matilda had always reached her own limits on those days; we would crash out on the bed together for luxuriously long naps.
But there was a bright side: in the midst of all this, Matilda dropped her last night feed.
Oh, sure, she was still waking up overnight. A lot. But she wasn't wanting fed.
People seem to be in two camps when it comes to sleep regressions: those who believe you should do whatever you need to get through them with your sanity in tact; and those who believe you should stick to your usual routines and sleep training methods so as to avoid creating bad habits.
Steve and I are definitely in the first group; we would much rather spend a week getting a calm baby back into good habits than (potentially) months battling against an unhappy child in the middle of a sleep regression.
And, in the mean time, there were those lovely sleepy snuggles to enjoy.
You see: I'm forgetting how bad it was already...
Hi! I'm a 30-something stay-at-home feminist mother-of-one. I live in Aberdeen, Scotland with my toddler, boyfriend and two black cats.