What is the 4-month sleep regression?
As a parent, you know that baby milestones are exciting, but they can also come with their own set of challenges. One of the most challenging is the 4-month sleep regression.
You've probably heard the term “sleep regression” before, but if you're like us, you're still confused about what it is and why it happens. The whole 4-month sleep regression thing seems like a big hazy mess with lots of contradictory information floating around out there, so we're here to help you sort through it.
Let's start at the beginning: when your baby was born, they were probably sleeping pretty well
—maybe 10-12 hours per night or sometimes more. But as they get older (around 3-4 months), their sleep schedule changes. Your little one is now more awake during the day, which means they'll probably be more awake at night, too. Sometimes this means that your baby will wake up and cry for a few minutes—you might hear them stirring or even fussing for a few minutes in the middle of the night before going back to sleep on their own. The 4-month sleep regression stage is totally NORMAL, and we'll give you some tips on how to respond and make this nighttime wake-up quick and quiet.
It starts with a few nights of not sleeping. Maybe your baby is cranky and you can't figure out why (or you know exactly why). Or maybe their sleep has been erratic lately and you're trying to figure out how to get them back on track. Whatever the case may be, nighttime awakenings are the worst—the WORST! Except for that time when the baby started teething.
But it gets better! It will take time and patience, but it will get better. We promise. The first time your little one goes through it, you might feel like there’s no way you can manage this challenging 4-month sleep regression period but if you know what to expect, it gets easier every time.
When a baby won’t sleep
, it will bring even the most patient of parents to their breaking point. It’s important to understand what is causing your baby's disturbed sleep — and how you can best communicate with your child during this time. You may also be surprised at what we recommend for a good night’s sleep, but it really works!
Your baby is a good sleeper. They're not waking up at night, and they're sleeping through the night from 7 P.M. to 7 A.M. He’s been doing this every night for five weeks now - and then suddenly, you've got the 4-month sleep regression to deal with.
Your baby is now fussy and wakeful at night, and still having trouble sleeping on their own (and especially when they've started standing up in their crib).
The good news is - your baby's brain is physically growing and maturing
and these cause the 4-month sleep regression symptoms. Babies are growing up, expanding their mental capabilities and learning new skills by the day. Understanding why your baby's sleep patterns seem to have changed at this stage in their development helps parents know how to handle it.
During this time, you need to learn how to teach your baby new skills – and live a more peaceful night as a family.
4-month Sleep Regression Signs to Look Out For
What causes the 4-month sleep regression? It's a combination of things, but mostly because your baby is starting to test boundaries. Your baby will start getting better at holding their head up and may even roll over, making it harder for you to get them back to sleep. Some babies will start teething around this time as well which can make them fussy and irritable. Finally, your baby is developing more of their independence and wants to do more on their own, making it hard for you to put them down in their crib without crying.
are normal for all babies at some point. Watch for these sleep regression signs and you'll know exactly what stage your baby is in. This will help you be patient and provide comfort when your baby needs it most.
1. They cry a lot during the daytime.
2. Newborns (or 4 month babies) are very busy learning how to lay on their tummy and roll over, which can make them fussy during their day time naps.
3. They easily get irritated during the day and feel uncomfortable.
Coping with Sleep Regression
We came up with some strategies to help get you through this 4-month sleep regression period quickly (and hopefully avoid it next time), so you can get back to some peace and quiet!
1. Many parents ask why their child's falling asleep is taking longer now. The answer is simple: your child is learning new skills and practicing those skills so they can do it independently during the 4-month sleep regression stage. To help your baby get independent sleep, we recommend giving them time to practice during the day (instead of just during their naps, which will often not be enough).
2. Parents feed their babies in the middle of the night, thinking that it will help them get back to sleep. Feeding your baby
in the middle of the night can start the cycle over again - your baby feels full, but hasn't actually digested much of the milk. Thus, within a few hours, your baby is ready for another feeding, leading to more waking up at night. Your baby may be waking up because he or she is hungry, but this could also be a sign of teething pain/discomfort or even unintended (but common) nursing patterns that are making your baby wake up at night.
3. The key to helping your baby learn to sleep
on their own is consistency, both in your routine and in letting them know that they are capable of comforting themselves. Don't sweat it, it's normal until the 4-month mark. If the rock-to-sleep method works for everyone, great! It succeeded in its purpose, which was making everyone calm and ready for bed.
4. Making sure your baby's room is dark before you put them down for a nap is important to get through this time when the 4-month sleep regression
happens. If they start to stir too soon, the dark will encourage them to fall back asleep. In the morning, let lots of light in - it will help your little one adjust as they wake up.
5. Keeping a routine is important for the baby and for you! When you’re consistent, it creates a positive association in your little one's mind about being awake and sleeping. Having a bedtime routine can also help to settle your baby and set in their circadian rhythm to cope with the 4-month sleep regression challenges. Try singing a song or rocking them in the chair, then tuck them into bed, saying goodnight.
6. Be prepared for bedtime—change their diaper, feed them if they haven’t eaten recently (but try not to wake them if they are already asleep), read your usual bedtime story. If you do these things before bedtime and don’t wait until mid-sleep regression to start them, you’ll be less likely to get frustrated with your baby if they don’t fall asleep quickly.
Learn to transition from playtime
to bedtime. This is an important step in teaching your baby how to settle themselves at night. We recommend starting with short periods of playtime before bedtime (like 5 minutes). Then slowly extend the length of time until they're ready to fall asleep on their own after playtime. This 4-month sleep regression coping solution works wonders.
7. Get a logbook. Make sure you know when the 4-month sleep regression starts for your baby. You can mark down how long it lasts and what happens.
8. Keep your calm. If your baby wakes up at night, try to make this a quick visit. If they continue to cry, it's time to go in.
But here's the important part: DO NOT TALK TO THEM or play with them in any way. Do not turn the lights on and do not stay longer than it takes to get them fed and changed back into their jammies. It's tempting, especially if they appear awake and alert, but talking or playing with them at this point will only encourage more crying and more night awakenings. This will make the 4-month sleep regression training harder for both of you. They just need help falling asleep – which means being left alone after you change/feed them!
9. Many babies suffer from colic during this time, too. Colic is marked by lots of crying and irritability, making sleep even more difficult for you and baby. Sometimes newborns need help re-adjusting their bodies after a long period of deep sleep. Try taking your baby out of their crib and putting them on your chest or stomach while they fall back asleep. This can help them get out any gas they might be having trouble passing in their sleep.
10. Choose a trusted Baby Relaxer where you can lay your baby safely for hours. Select one that has a unique three-dimensional net structure
which creates spaces of similar volume between each line weave, making it easy for your baby to lie on the fabric without feeling any hard lines or edges. The Sunday Hug Baby Relaxer’s mattress molds around the natural shape of your baby's body and provides excellent cushioning, ensuring that your little one will experience the ultimate comfort.
There‘s no magic cure to dealing with the problems brought about by the dreaded 4-month sleep regression stage.
Sleep regressions just happen. But through trial and error, these things can really make a difference.
Sometimes during this time you might wonder if you'll ever sleep again. And then, when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, your child will be 7 months old and they'll be ready to start walking.
Enjoy your sleep-deprived days during this season of the 4-month sleep regression because it will fly by (and over before you know it!).