Managing The 4-Month Sleep Regression: Your Expert Guide

Managing The 4-Month Sleep Regression: Your Expert Guide

Just as your little one starts sleeping for solid stretches and gets the hang of their nap routine, you might suddenly find yourself bleary-eyed every few hours while you struggle to get them to sleep.

What’s that all about?!

Well, it sounds like you might be in the throes of the 4-month sleep regression.

In this article: 📝

  • What is the 4-month sleep regression?
  • What are the signs of a sleep regression?
  • How do I manage the 4-month sleep regression?

What is the 4-month sleep regression?

The four-month sleep regression is a completely normal (and temporary!) stage in your baby’s development.

And turns out, it’s more of a sleep progression, as it’s a sign that your baby’s sleep cycle is maturing.

“At four months, even the best sleeping babies will experience regression. Typically lasting 2-3 weeks, baby will wake frequently at night and sleep less overall. The good news is that it’s a sign your baby is transitioning to a newer sleep cycle.” says Lauren Olson, Child Sleep Expert and Founder of Sleep + the City.

What are the signs of a sleep regression?

If your baby suddenly wakes up a lot in the night and tries their hardest to fight sleep when they’re usually a good sleeper, that’s probably a regression.

A sleep regression tends to last a few weeks, and the most common is at 4 months, but you might see signs around 8 months, 12 months, and 18 months too.

They usually occur during the ages and stages where your little one is hitting developmental milestones.

“For the 4-month sleep regression, look out for things like baby becoming more active, rolling over, absorbing language, and recognizing faces.” says Lauren. These are all signs that a regression could be around the corner.

Lauren also advises that you look out for sudden short naps under 30 minutes each, increased fussiness during the day, baby refusing to be put down, or refusing to take a full feed anymore.

How do I manage the 4-month sleep regression?

If you’re wondering how to deal with your little one’s latest sleep regression, don’t worry, we’ve got you.

With help from Lauren, we’ve put together five sleep regression solutions.

1. Keep a routine

At this age, babies need roughly 12 to 17 hours of sleep each day, split into around three or four daytime naps and around 6 to 8 hours of sleep at night.

To make sure they’re hitting those hours, try a sleep routine that encourages them to unwind before bed.

“Having a sleep routine is incredibly important, especially with babies under 12 months that can’t yet communicate with words. Instead, we use ‘social cues’ such as taking a bath and dimming the lights to signal that bedtime is near. By doing so, babies are much less likely to fuss!” explains Lauren.

A bedtime routine could look like a bath, massage, soft music, dim lighting, and one last feed to tank baby up before bedtime.

2. Prep their bedroom

White noise and blackout curtains are two of my sleep must-haves, which are absolutely vital for longer naps and sleeping through the night.” says Lauren.

“White noise blocks out any irritating noises at night (think: barking dogs and squeaky floorboards) and mimics the sounds in the womb that baby grew accustomed to, so it can be really soothing for them. And blackout shades can block out not only light, but sound and heat/cold also. The darkness will encourage better sleep, and if they wake up it’ll help them to fall back asleep too.”

It might sound surprising how a few small changes to baby’s bedroom can change their sleeping pattern, but we’re sold!

3. Extra comfort

Who doesn’t love a baby burrito!

Not only does swaddling look adorable, but it can also help your little one stay calm and sleep more soundly too.

“Correct swaddling can help increase nap length, encourage longer stretches of sleep at night, and reduce the Moro reflex. The Moro reflex is the feeling of falling that baby will have when you move them from your body and place them down. Swaddling helps them feel more secure and reduces the chances of triggering this reflex.” explains Lauren.

But it’s important to stop swaddling if your baby is showing any signs of rolling over, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, because they won’t be able to get back to the right position with their arms wrapped up.

Since babies can start to roll over at around 4 months, swaddling might be something to avoid at this time, or even earlier — even as early as 2 months old.

If your baby’s starting to roll over, it could be safer to switch over to a sleep sack, so they can still get their snuggly comfort, but they can move their arms if they roll over.

4. Drowsy but awake

You can help your little one learn to self-soothe (or fall asleep on their own) by placing them down when they’re ‘drowsy but awake’.

“In short, you’ll move through your nap or bedtime routines that we spoke about earlier, then lightly place baby down in the crib still somewhat awake (but very drowsy). This idea can be key when it comes to naturally dropping night wakings, and longer naps.” says Lauren.

Trying to spot the signs?

Look out for yawning, eye-rubbing, or a relaxed, calm state — these are strong signs of sleep readiness.

5. Don’t do it alone

We’ll be the first to admit that sleep regressions are tough. So while following all of these tips, make sure you have a great support system around you — whether that’s family or mamas you’ve met on Peanut — for comfort and encouragement.

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