Brave Little Baby

The 4 Month Sleep Regression

This regression is more commonly called a “progression” rather than a regression.

It’s the first time your baby’s sleep patterns start to mature into more prominent sleep cycles. This means they can wake often and it can be really hard to fall asleep. Their sleep cycles are 30-45 min per nap and their nighttime sleep cycles can range from 2-4 hours, 2 hours being a partial wakeup and 4 hours a full cycle which means at night we will have a new party going on. This is a normal but permanent development.

During this progression, cognitive, physical and emotional development takes place!

Lots of new and exciting things start happening around the 4-month mark! Your baby starts rolling over, many start with solids and they start learning about cause and effect. This in turn helps them to predict outcomes (i.e. ‘If I drop my toy, it will fall to the ground, and someone will come and pick it up’).

Try to continue to work on building consistent sleep routines; this will help your little one learn that certain events mean sleep is coming. You may also want to work on identifying any sleep associations baby may have from now on.

To practice this new skill is a necessity, which can leave your little one restless and prone to waking up more often than normal.

Baby sleep consultant

Signs your baby is going through the 4-month-sleep regression:

Was your little one sleeping soundly and then suddenly starts waking up frequently? Your chilled baby is now quite hard to deal with?

Let’s just make sure it is indeed the 4 month sleep regression:

  • More than normal frequent night wakings, with no sign of illness
  • Your baby is working on practicing a new skill, mastering newfound skills takes a lot of practice and often this takes place at night! Hello 2-4 am wake-ups!
  • Very interested in their surroundings. Baby gets distracted more easily while feeding, for instance.
  • Fussiness during the day
  • Shorter naps
  • Changes in appetite

Managing the 4-month sleep regression

It’s all about being consistent. We can’t control whether your little one wakes up during the night, but we can set the stage for helping them sleep as well as possible — and hopefully, keep your little one from getting overtired.

Here are a few tips for dealing with the 4-month sleep regression:

  • Keep your bedtime routine, make bedtime early and keep sleep environment familiar: they need to unwind before bed. Try to put your baby down relaxed and calm but awake. If your little one has the ability to settle on their own, they will be able to settle again in the middle of the night when they wake.
  • Try to avoid overtiredness. Help baby make up for lost sleep with more naptime. Try working on getting their naps longer each day and avoid those little catnaps. Your baby will settle down easier at night if not overtired. 
  • Relax about the night wakings.  Treat these many wake-ups like you would have in the past. Give your baby a few minutes to fuss it out before rushing in. Stick with your usual routine to avoid forming new associations. Be weary of the pacifier, this is a time where it can become a problem.
  • Wait,Listen, Breathe and respond. Wait a few minutes before you rush in and intervene too quickly when you hear your baby wake at night. They might just be in an active sleep where moving around and sleepy noises are to be expected. If your baby continues to cry, it’s time to respond appropriately.
  • However, by avoiding any talk, play and keeping lights low will help to make these nighttime awakenings for changing and feedings quick and quiet.
Any light from mobile devices or computers can stimulate your baby, so try to keep screens off as well while breastfeeding or soothing baby.

By applying these tips, you’ll reinforce the idea that nighttime is for sleeping.

  • Feed your little one when needed. 
  • Know what to expect. Sleep regressions can be exhausting. They too will end. Try to stay calm when you’re with your baby. Breathe and remember this a temporary phase. Especially if no new sleep associations are formed
  • Offer lots of love and cuddles in this time
  • If you need a break, ask for one from family and friends

A sleep regression won’t last forever. You can do the best you can, but it still might not make your baby sleep through the night. Try to get as much sleep as possible during this time and be as consistent as possible with your baby.

Seek advice from a doctor if you have any concerns.

When to call the doctor

A few difficult nights are usually no cause for concern. Touch base with the paediatrician about night wakings if:

  • Your little one is eating less than normal during the day.
  • Your little one is having fewer than four wet diapers and three bowel movements per day.
  • Your baby doesn’t seem to be gaining weight. 

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