The 4 month sleep regression is completely normal and can first take place when your little one reaches the age of 3 to 4 months old. Sleep regressions can be an incredibly hard time for many parents; if your baby isn't sleeping well then you won't be either! Although the 4-month regression can be difficult, it will not last forever and your little one can sleep better once the regression has come to an end. Here is our guide to the 4-month sleep regression and how to help your baby get through it so you can both fall back to sleep for a full night.
What is a Sleep Regression?
Sleep regressions are defined when a baby that previously slept well begins to wake more than usual in the middle of the night and suffers from sleep challenges out of the norm. The first sleep regression commonly takes place when a little one is around 3 to 4 months and can take place again at 6 months and 12 months old. If your baby could sleep through the night and then begins to wake frequently around the 3 to 4-month mark, they are most probably experiencing the 4-month sleep regression.
Why Does a Sleep Regression Take Place?
The 4-month sleep regression is perfectly normal and is usually a good sign as it means that your baby is developing a skill or experiencing a growth spurt. It is a sign of progression in your little one's development and is the start of the formation of your child's circadian rhythms - their wake-sleep cycles. Major changes and developments in a baby can cause their nighttime routine to be disrupted while they get used to their new skill. A 4-month old that is experiencing disrupted sleep is usually starting to learn how to crawl or roll over, which can lead their sleep habits to fall out of place for a short period of time. Your sleep training will not have been ruined though, as once your baby has developed their skill, they should be able to resume sleeping through the night.
How Long Does the 4 Month Sleep Regression Last?
As for the good news, the 4-month regression should only last for around 2 to 4 weeks. However, the time that the regression lasts completely depends on your baby and how quickly they develop. If you find that your baby's sleep patterns do not return to normal or they struggle to fall asleep for more than 6 weeks then there may be another issue so it is important to seek medical advice from a GP or sleep advice from a certified sleep consultant. Additionally, if you end up falling into bad habits while trying to get your baby to fall back asleep during the regression, there may be a permanent change in their bedtime routine and sleep expectations. This can lead to sleep challenges forming around associations that have formed which may need to be worked on by the parents to help pre-regression sleeping patterns return. There is a range of tips that you can follow to ensure you do not fall into bad habits when it comes to helping your baby sleep.
What Are the Main Signs of a 4 Month Sleep Regression?
There a few signs that can help you figure out when your little one is going through their 4-month sleep regression. The most obvious sign is that your baby begins to struggle with deep sleep and sleeping throughout the night where they previously didn't have an issue at age of 3 to 4 months. You may also notice issues when it comes to your baby falling asleep after waking during the night or they can't self soothe as well as they used to. If your baby starts to struggle with sleep and are not unwell they are most probably going through their first regression.
Another sign of the 4-month sleep regression is your baby going through a major developmental change such as rolling or turning on their own during the day, alongside disrupted sleep cycles. While your baby adjusts to learning their new skill, they may experience a light sleep during the night and therefore wake more as their brain adjusts to new developments. Furthermore, you may notice your baby start to take more notice of the external environment as their brain develops. Signs of this may be looking around and touching things more than usual.
What are the Top Tips to Deal with the 4 Month Regression?
There are a number of things that can help you cope through the four-month sleep regression. Even though your baby's sleep cycle is disrupted and your baby's needs may heighten, you should try out as many tips as possible to maintain the previous bedtime and naps schedule so that your baby can quickly return to their previous sleep cycle.
Stick to Your Previous Sleep Schedule During the Night
Although it can be extremely difficult, make sure you continue to put your baby to sleep at a similar time each evening and stay consistent with their sleep routine. Creating a relaxing, dark and quiet environment in the evening will reassure your baby that it is time to settle down and fall asleep. If you allow your baby to get into a new schedule adapted for their regression, they may start to get used to the new bedtime and take longer to rest permanently.
Instead, Increase Nap Times During the Day
Increasing naps during the day is a great way to adapt to your baby's sleep needs without changing their schedule during the nighttime permanently. If you find your baby frequently wakes they may be overtired by the time it comes to the next evening, and appear drowsy but awake. Ideally, you want your baby to be ready to sleep at their usual time, so increasing nap times can help to avoid the associated over tiredness.
Try to Avoid Adding a New Sleep Association
It is important that you try to avoid giving your baby something that they will begin to rely on for sleep, such as cuddles, a breast or a bottle. Adding something new to help babies get back to sleep after naps can be a bad idea if you already have an established schedule and your baby knows how to self soothe. It may feel easier to feed or cuddle if it gets your baby to sleep meaning you can go back to sleep too, but the best thing to do during a regression is to stay calm and give your baby some time on their own before going in to help them get back to sleep.
4-month-old sleep regressions can be a tricky time for parents, but know that they do not last and will come to an end before you know it. Here at Babogue, our job is to help families get their babies to sleep. To help you navigate the 4-month sleep regression we have created the 4-6 Month Sleep Series program. This program is centered around Erica's 7 Steps to Better Sleep and gives you a comprehensive guide to navigating this age range. If you want to handle the 4-month sleep regression and lay foundations for settled sleep long into the future, this program is for you.
Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.