Hey sweet peas,
Thank god we made it out alive. Leap four was brutal and honestly tested me so much as a person and as a mother. I mean it’s hard enough dealing with a new baby when you’re tired. Let alone a crying, clingy, cranky baby who has stopped sleeping all together! Leap four hits just when you really don’t need it to, during that dreaded four month sleep regression.
For those who don’t know, I’m referring to baby Wonder Weeks. They’re basically developmental phases that every baby goes through, all based on brain development and growth spurts. Leap four is known as The World of Events, the realisation that our experience is split up into familiar events is something that we as adults take for granted. For example, if we see someone drop a rubber ball, we know that it will bounce back up and will probably continue to bounce several times. Leap four gives babies the ability to understand the world around them, it becomes far more developed and a little more like our own. This is where they will begin to experiment with events.
As a first time parent, it was a real wake up call. As you may have noticed, I’m writing about leap four in the past tense. We survived. I don’t know how on so little sleep, but we damn well survived! No one can prepare you for it, and I swear it’s on the verge of being some sort of SAS torture training.
Before this leap started, I was already dreading it. All of the warning signs were there, the online parent forums filled with desperate pleas of sanity saving tips and the wonder weeks app talking about how long and tedious this leap can be.
Ollie was finally settling into his bedtime routine, we started it early in the hope that his four month sleep regression and leap four phase would be a breeze compared to those who had no sleep or bedtime routine. After weeks of sticking to his consistent sleep schedule and a predictable night time feeds, I was convinced we would slide through the leap unscathed. This was not the case.
Oliver’s New Found Crankiness
Leap four started to creep up around developmental week 14, Ollie started to get more and more fussy during the day and night time. He was incredibly clingy, forever cranky and I’m not sure if he did anything other than cry for a gruelling six to eight weeks.
We found him extremely difficult most of the time to be honest. He would cry, squeal and scream almost as if he was in pain. He had Myles and I both in tears at one point or another and it really put us all in the worst moods. When we finally got him to sleep, we were too exhausted to do anything but sleep too. When we tried to stay up and spend some time together as a couple, we’d dread the unearthly screeches to let us know he was awake once again.
I honestly started to question whether or not I was any good at this parenting thing anymore, was it my fault? Was he in pain and I couldn’t tell? Did he hate me? Obviously this was not the case, he was just going through this dreaded leap. The poor mite was trying so hard to learn new things and teething as well, he was experiencing something he’d never had to before and of course it became very overwhelming for him.
When I realised this, I tried to tell myself that he is just scared and trying to understand what was going on. My new mantra became “this too shall pass”, and so it finally did.
A Change In Sleep Patterns
Almost immediately Oliver’s sleep patterns changed. Instead of going to sleep at 7pm until 1.30pm, he was now waking at 11pm. In fact, from 11pm, he would then wake every one or two hours until 5am where it was almost impossible to get him back to sleep.
All of our tried and true sleep solutions had stopped working. He wouldn’t settle himself in his cot anymore and I’m pretty sure that some nights we’d spend a good hour trying to stop him from crying. After a few nights of this, you can imagine how awful the sleep-deprivation hell we’d entered was. It felt like we regressed back to a newborn.
Myles and I constantly questioned ourselves wondering where we went wrong. Should we set bedtime earlier? Did we not do a good enough job enforcing a bedtime routine? It was a great reminder that our baby is always growing and changing. But I must admit there were a few emotional breakdowns from both of us and feelings of failure all round.
Adjusting His Schedule
We ended up adjusting his schedule slightly to work in favour of more sleep. We’ve encouraged positive sleep associations from day one and continued to be consistent. We’ve also made bath time short and sweet and his bedtime slightly earlier.
Although we’re still teaching Ollie to self soothe throughout the whole night, he has gotten better and can fall asleep well anytime by himself before 4am. After 4am he still wakes every hour or so, but we’re definitely working on that! Obviously a better sleep is great for me, but it doesn’t explain the truly exciting thing about leap four, which was a huge leap in development for Oliver.
Oliver’s New Found Personality
Our little baby has turned into a little human. He’s really developed his own personality. He has new skills and even has developed likes and dislikes.
He has toys he loves and toys he doesn’t like one bit. He’s reaching for things he wants and putting anything he can into his mouth. Tummy time has turned into an acrobatic floor display and rolling is his new form of transport. He’s also found his voice! We no longer get the cute baby coos of “agoo”, instead he squeals and giggles in excitement, laughs at funny things and talks absolute gibberish to his favourite toys.
There are distinct things about him that feel so much more mature than where he was before this leap. He’s recently started kicking about in the bath and laughing at himself, he notices Myles and I laughing and will kick and squeal all the more to get a laughing reaction from us again. Simple things like that make you realise how incredible baby brain development is and it took leap four to get him to be able to get him to that.
If you’re getting ready for the fourth leap, be warned that it will test you to high heaven. On the other hand, if you’re already into leap four, just keep powering through. You can do it. And if you’ve already gone through the fourth leap, have fun laughing with your baby. It seriously is the best thing ever.
Since leap four and the sleep regression ended, we have been able to get Ollie’s nap and sleep schedule back on track with a bit of sleep training and lots of expert sleep advice! He’s coming on leaps and bounds and we’re seeing progress in his development almost every day.
How did you notice your baby developing during leap four? Did you have a clingy, crying ball of crankiness too?
Thanks for reading!
Love Charlie x