What’s the Deal with the Four-Month Sleep Regression?Dec 09, 2020
No, you aren’t imagining it. The 4-month sleep regression is real. The good news is that it’s normal and temporary.
I often talk to parents about this stage in the baby’s life, because they are usually exhausted and confused about what to do next. If you’re in the same boat right now, keep on reading to learn everything you need to know about sleep regressions.
What is a sleep regression?
I like to call sleep regressions “progressions” because they occur when your baby hits a developmental milestone. It’s just nature’s way of celebrating the fact that your baby is growing—so there is a silver lining to your current lack of sleep, and no, you aren’t doing anything wrong!
On average, sleep “progressions” happen at 4, 8, and 12 months of age. However, every baby is different, so your child might not have her first sleep regression until she’s 5 months old. I’ve even heard of a few lucky parents who never experienced a sleep regression with their little one. Kudos to them, but they’re generally the exception to the rule.
What are the signs?
Let’s say your baby was the unicorn of babies—she practically slept through the night from day one, and now she’s suddenly not. This is a major sign of sleep regressions, but there are other signs too, such as:
- Less daytime napping
- Repeat nighttime wakings
- Changes in appetite
As a pediatrician, many parents I see often confuse small sleep changes in the baby with sleep regressions. That can be a big mistake because many parents think they have to stop sleep training or wait until the regression is over to start sleep training again. I’m also concerned when I hear parents resorting to unsafe sleep practices just to get a few hours of much-needed sleep.
Keep in mind that there may be other reasons why your baby isn’t sleeping as well as she used to. In fact, I have a free webinar that addresses the five most common reasons for changes in sleep other than a sleep regression.
What you can do:
Once you’ve determined that your child is in the middle of a sleep regression, don’t lose hope. This too shall pass. In the meantime, here are a few tips for managing the four-month sleep regression:
Establish a bedtime routine: If you haven’t already, find a bedtime routine. I typically think of the “3 Bs of Bedtime” which includes a bath, a book, and a bottle (or breast). However, you don’t necessarily have to follow the same routine. Find one that works for you and stick to it.
Stay consistent: if you were sleep training before the sleep regression, don’t stop or wait to start again.
Fully feed your baby during the day: Sometimes, babies get distracted while feeding at this age. After all, there’s a lot to see and do, especially if there are fun, older siblings around. Try taking your baby to a quiet spot for feeding, so she can focus on eating rather than playing. A fully fed baby will typically sleep better at night too.
Try to be quick: When your baby wakes up in the night, keep the lights low, stay as quiet as possible, and gently soothe her back to sleep as soon as you can. With this strategy, you’re letting your baby know that nighttime is for sleeping.
Rely on your support network: If you need a break, call a relative or a friend to watch the baby so you can get the sleep you need. You can’t be the parent you want to be when you’re short on sleep.
Plus, watch my free workshop—you’ll learn how to identify, manage, and power through sleep regressions!
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