DENIAL (new parent): During this stage of the four month sleep regression, you chalk your cumulative two hours of sleep up to a bad night. Later on, a bad week. You’ll cling desperately to the words written in The Wonder Weeks (which you previously thought to be complete BS) which tell you that your child waking every 20-45 minutes is completely normal. It’ll get better soon.
DENIAL (friend/relative of new parent): During this stage of the four month sleep regression you will meet your struggling new parent friend/family member with an emphatic “I never heard of that” and proclamations that your precious spawn slept 12 hours a night from month one. You forget that your baby did, in fact, wake to be fed. You forget that on at least one occasion, your baby woke frequently, too. Basically, you forget what it’s like to have a baby.
ANGER (new parent): You may experience a strong urge to punch someone in the face when they tell you that you’re the second person in history whose baby doesn’t sleep through the night or that you’ve clearly screwed up as a parent and have no idea what you’re doing (as evidenced by your baby’s lack of sleep) during this stage of the four month sleep regression. Feeling hatred for the people giving you unsolicited advice that include putting rice cereal in your baby’s bottle is common.
ANGER (friend/relative of new parent): You may experience indigence when your new parent friend or relative refuses to heed your advice. Feeling a strong urge to roll your eyes when your friend or relative also rejects the advice given by a doctor to your best friend, the first person in history to have a child that didn’t sleep through the night, to let the baby just cry it out, FFS, is common.
BARGAINING (new parent): It’s not uncommon during this stage of the four month sleep regression to lie down in bed at night and pray to everyone’s god and the universe itself for more than one hour of sleep. You’ll swear that you will do anything for your child to sleep at least two hours. It’s common to say things like “if you please let us sleep tonight, I promise I will never ask for another favor — I won’t even ask for my second born to sleep!”
BARGAINING (friend/relative of new parent): It’s not uncommon during this stage of the four month sleep regression to say things like “if only you could get her to take a bottle” or “if only you’d offered a pacifier.” You know that if your friend/family member did everything in a completely different manner, and likely the way you did it, their child would definitely be “good” and never wake at night.
DEPRESSION (new parent): This stage of the four month sleep regression sets in when your child begins to roll leading to the dropping of the swaddle (sending the promise of sleep ever again straight to hell) and/or you realize that it has been nearly a month, and things are getting worse. You may find yourself sobbing during this stage. A lot.
DEPRESSION (friend/relative of new parent): This stage of the four month sleep regression sets in when you notice you’re feigning sadness because, let’s be real: you’re not that sad. You may find yourself saying “awww” a lot, and not offering any sympathy, empathy, or understanding in any form.
ACCEPTANCE (new parent): You’re exhausted, you’ve been getting 3 hours of total sleep a night, you’re broken, weary, and hopped up on enough caffeine to render an entire preschool class sleepless for a week. You accept that this is a part of babyhood and a part of parenting. You accept that this is often called the “worst” of the sleep regressions you’ll face for good reason. You accept that your baby is going through so many developmental changes and mastering so many new skills that even expecting two hours of sleep in a row may very well be too much to ask. You accept that like all phases your baby has gone through, this is temporary, and will get better in time. You accept that when your baby is capable of sleeping longer stretches again, they will. Until then, this is your life. Welcome to parenthood!
ACCEPTANCE (friend/relative of new parent): You’re tired of hearing lamentations of terrible night sleep, and you’ve been offering advice to no avail. You accept that your friend or relative would ask you for your advice if they wanted it. You accept that the answer to sleep issues isn’t always formula feeding, thickened feeds, or sleep training. You accept that your friend or relative is just doing what feels best to them. You accept that every baby is different, and just because your little Johnny slept like a log from the very first night, it doesn’t mean that your friend or relative is somehow getting parenting wrong where you got it right. You accept the fact that everyone is doing what works, and what may have worked for some might not fit for others. Everyone is faking it ’til they make it.
*This process is unique to each individual and is not linear. You may navigate each if these stages out of order, all at once, or not at all. You may even find yourself encountering stages not listed. This is a tool to help you identify what you may be feeling — it’a not a timeline! Good luck and godspeed.