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A Pediatrician’s Tips for Getting Through the 4-Month Sleep Regression

Apr 03, 2022

First: The term sleep regression indicates a setback or interruption, when really it’s a sign of developmental progress. 

Second: There are at least four things frequently mimic sleep regressions:

  1. Teething—typically in the 6- to 9-month age range and typically go down well but wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble getting back to sleep.
  2. Hunger—most babies 6 months or older can make it through the night without needing a restock on calories. But, during growth spurts, babies of all ages could very well require a nighttime feeding. 
  3. Habit—baby develops an understanding of habits, so if that habit is getting fed and rocked to sleep, baby is going to expect that until trained otherwise. If you think that at 4 or 6 months baby will suddenly be able to go down without a peep or stay asleep without learning how to self-soothe, you might think it’s a sleep regression, but really it’s just that baby has a learned sleep association and will take time to learn a new one. 
  4. Health—has baby had a cold or congestion? Sometimes those lead to ear infections, which can disrupt sleep. Try a pain reliever until your pediatrician’s office is open, and then call to see if your baby’s ears need to be checked out.

If you can rule out the above, your baby is probably going through a developmental change in sleep, which is typically called a sleep regression. These are normal and everyone usually adjusts quickly. Consistency is key—stick with your consistent bedtime routine and I find most families get through the phase fast. 

And getting through that phase is so important—for your enjoyment of parenting, confidence in your abilities as a parent, expectations for what your evenings look like, and for your own sleep needs.  

If you’re struggling with kiddo sleep and missing out on the time in the evenings you count on to do housework, relax, or hang out with your partner, I recommend sleep training. My sleep-training course, Mighty Sleepers, is for parents of kids ages 4 months to 5 years. It’s flexible (CIO or not—your call!), it’s on your schedule, and IT WORKS in about a week’s time. 

You’ve got this!

Dr. B

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