Just when you start to feel like you've mastered your baby's sleep routine, you may encounter a phase known as the dreaded “4-month sleep regression”. This developmental milestone can disrupt even the most peaceful sleep patterns, leaving parents exhausted and confused. In this blog post, we will explore what the 4-month sleep regression is, when it typically occurs, and provide some tips to help you navigate this challenging period with your little one!
What is the 4 Month Sleep Regression?
The 4-month sleep regression refers to a period when a baby's sleep patterns undergo significant changes. It is considered a developmental milestone because it coincides with neurological and cognitive advancements in the baby's brain. During this time, your baby's sleep cycles become more similar to those of adults – baby is already growing up so fast! During this time, your baby’s sleep becomes lighter and more fragmented, leading to frequent awakenings during the night. Sigh.
When Does the 4 month Regression Happen?
The 4-month sleep regression typically occurs around, you guessed it, the 4-month mark but just like any milestone, there is a range of time of when it will occur. In reality, this regression can begin as early as 3 months or as late as 5 months. It is essential to remember that this regression is not the same for every baby, and individual variations are normal. Some babies may experience a milder regression, while others may have a more pronounced disruption in their sleep patterns. It is crucial to be patient and adaptable during this period.
Why Does the 4-month Regression Happen?
The 4-month sleep regression is due to 3 major factors:
Baby sleep patterns permanently change and mature (cognitive milestones)
Rolling (gross motor milestones). Get a better idea when it’s safe for your baby to roll in their sleep here.
4-3 nap transition (sleep needs are changing). Read more on dropping the 4th nap.
4-month Sleep Regression Signs: increased night wakings, fussiness or irritability before bedtime, shorter naps, difficulty settling back to sleep, and changes in feeding patterns. It's important to remember that these regressions are temporary and, although challenging, are a normal part of your baby's development.
How to Prepare for the 4-Month Sleep Regression
Stick to a Consistent Routine: If you haven’t established a consistent routine yet for your baby, now is an excellent time to start! Check out this blog post for tips on creating a bedtime routine with twins, singletons or multiple kids of different ages. Establishing a regular bedtime routine can help signal to your baby that it's time to sleep. This can include activities like a warm bath, gentle massage, putting on a sleep sack, or reading a bedtime story.
Encourage Self-Soothing: Teach your baby to fall asleep independently by placing them in their crib awake instead of drowsy. This helps them develop the skills to soothe themselves back to sleep when they wake up during the night. Move their last milk feeding to the BEGINNING of their bedtime routine.
Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment: Ensure your baby's sleep environment is the best it can be. This is something that is fully in your control! Consider using blackout curtains, white noise machines and making sure the temperature in the room is between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Offer Comfort and Reassurance: If your baby wakes up during the night, provide them with gentle comfort and reassurance. Try not to develop new sleep associations, such as feeding or rocking to sleep, as these may become sleep crutches.
Adjust Nap and Bedtime Schedule: Pay attention to your baby's sleep cues and adjust their nap and bedtime schedule accordingly. Overtiredness can exacerbate sleep disruptions, so try to find the right balance between awake time and rest.
Seek Sleep Support: Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Explore what sleep training options we have for you at this stage. Sleep training involves creating a routine and schedule that works for your family and then choosing a method to follow. It’s important to remember that there is not one specific way to sleep train your baby or your twins. We’ll work together to find the right one and then work through how to teach your child or children these important independent sleep skills for 2 weeks. We also offer tips and tricks for navigating future age sleep regressions or challenges that may be on the horizon.
How to Survive the 4-Month Regression
This particular sleep regression can be a challenging time for both babies and parents, but it is a temporary phase that will pass. Understanding that it is a normal part of your baby's development and equipping yourself with strategies to navigate through it can make the experience less overwhelming. Be patient, flexible, and provide a secure and comforting environment for your little one. Remember, with time and consistency, your baby's sleep patterns will eventually stabilize, and you'll be able to enjoy those precious moments of rest once again.
Stellina Ferri is the author of this article. Stellina is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and mom of three.
She supports families through the journey of better sleep as a consultant with Tweet Dreamzz Sleep Consulting. Stellina lives in the Boston, MA area with her family. Find out what solutions she has for you by Booking a free call!