It’s hard being a new mother.
You are struggling with postpartum hormonal crashes, the sudden dramatic change to your life, breastfeeding (if you opt to do so) and learning to care for this screechy little creature who is so alien yet so endearing to you.
And when the baby wouldn’t stop crying or nursing or sleeping all of a sudden, it can be a hair-pulling experience.
So. Here it is – my cheat sheet to everything that a new mother should look out for when it comes to growth spurts and sleep regressions. Because I was there once, frantically googling “baby won’t stop crying nursing attached to boobs what the hell is going on here”.
Little babies can grow very fast in a very short span of time. From tiny creatures, they can expand to mini Buddhas in a matter of weeks. So it’s not surprising that they go through many growth spurts in their first year.
Signs that bubs is in the midst of a growth spurt: extremely fussy, nurses/drinks more than usual, latch and then unlatch in frustration (because the letdown is not fast enough for the milk to come in quickly for their voracious appetites), wakes up for milk.
When: when bubs is between 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 9 months.
How to survive it: procure a male servant (ie. husband) and have him serve up amenities to you on a silver platter. No, seriously. Your job is simply to feed the kid. Outsource everything else to other people.
During the first growth spurt when Aidan was about 2.5 weeks old, I found myself glued to the sofa watching the Formula One race with him attached to my boobs. And when the 6-week one came round, we had a crying baby on our hands. He would only stop when I nursed so in the end, I was nursing him through the night. For the third spurt, I only knew it was here when the little man did the latch-suckle furiously-unlatch-cry in frustration thing.
Thankfully though, each growth spurt lasted only a couple of days and then we were back to normal programming soon after. Some parents report that their babies tend to sleep more after a growth spurt but my little wakeful man NEVER did that. Every child is different!
Ah, my pet topic!
So, are sleep regressions real? My answer? Abso-freaking-lutely. Whenever there is a change in the kid’s sleeping patterns, I can pinpoint it to either a mental leap and/or a sleep regression (these two are typically linked).
In general, sleep regressions are HELL. If you find yourself up at all sorts of hours in the night, trying to get your baby to GO BACK TO SLEEP, then the likelihood is that you are knee deep in a sleep regression.
Sleep regressions are hell because they can leave you completely blindsided, sleep-deprived and confused. When once your baby could sleep for a few solid hours in a row, the bubs’ sudden wakefulness and difficulty in falling back to sleep can drive you bonkers. And when the things that used to help him to go back to sleep stop working, it can be most frustrating indeed.
When: 4 months, 9 months, 13 months and 18 months.
How to survive it: That’s the million dollar question. I don’t know. Well, I guess I do know because I have gone through these and am still alive. Some turn to sleep training (see our guest posts for an idea of what’s involved), others turn into zombies. Like me. That’s when my tools come in handy.
Seriously though, it helps to have your partner involved in night wakings. Mr Thick is our first line of defense, he usually gets the little man first. If he succeeds in soothing A, I get to clock in more sleep. But when he doesn’t – and this happens almost 95% of the time – it’s up to me and my miracle boobies.
For some, sleep regressions last a couple of weeks and then everything goes back to normal. But for Aidan, he’s never gone back to “normal” and we’ve just been in a vortex of neverending regression. It sucks. But that’s just the way he is.
Hopefully, your kid is a better sleeper than he is and I hope this guide is of some use to you!