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Oh, the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. I thought I had a super baby that started sleeping through the night at two months and then BAM! Right before he turned 4 months he started waking up again multiple times a night.
When this happens, don’t panic! It’s just a milestone in your baby’s life called baby sleep regression. Sleep regressions are usually signs that your baby is actually developing and experiencing milestones.
These biological changes are the causes of sleep regression in babies. The time span of a sleep regression could be anywhere from two to six weeks.
There are also various baby sleep regression ages. The common ones are at 6 weeks, 4 months, 6 months, 8 to 10 months, 18 months, and 2 years old. Today, we will talk more about the 4-month-old sleep regression.
What is 4 month sleep regression?
As your baby grows, they begin to develop adult-like sleeping patterns, which are deep sleep and light sleep (REM or Rapid Eye Movement).
Babies aren’t able to get to deep sleep right away (it may take 30 minutes of light sleep) and during light sleep, they can easily wake up and don’t know how to get back to sleep. This is where it is important for mamas to step in and help their babies learn how to fall back to sleep.
The 4 month sleep regression can last 1 week or up to 6 weeks. There could be different reasons your baby can go through sleep regression aside from due to developmental changes.
When a newborn doesn’t develop the right sleeping habits or if they needed help in falling asleep from the get-go, they could have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep during this sleep regression stage.
Sometimes babies might have a hard time falling asleep because they are hungry and you would need to increase their milk consumption.
Related: How To Increase Your Milk Supply
Perhaps your baby is also trying to roll over from tummy to back, which keeps them distracted and prevents them from falling asleep. Whatever the reasons may be, 4 month sleep regression can be addressed and there are several things moms need to be aware of.
What are the symptoms of a 4 month sleep regression
- Your baby keeps on waking up at night
- Shorter naps (around 45 minutes long)
- Baby gets fussy
- Feeding patterns are changing
What to do during the 4 month sleep regression
Create a predictable daytime schedule
This doesn’t mean following the clock, rather, create a set of activities that you would do with your baby each day and try to religiously follow it. When they wake up, you can get ready to feed them. By feeding your baby right away after waking up, it will prevent food/sleep relationships and will also mean fuller feedings for your baby.
After feeding, its time to play and interact with the baby and provide stimulation. As playtime goes by, you will notice your baby get tired, sleepy, yawning, rubbing their eyes, avoiding eye contact, and generally losing interest. This would be the perfect time for you to put them down for a nap before they get super tired.
Create the optimal sleeping environment
Make sure the room your baby is sleeping in is as dark as possible since this will also help your baby associate darkness with sleep. You can try blackout curtains or drapes to achieve this. It is best that your baby is also sleeping in their own room or crib (if they aren’t already).
A room with a cooler temperature is much more conducive for sleeping when it comes to a 4-month-old baby. Just make sure that they are dressed properly to prevent them from feeling cold (we loved using these sleep sacks!).
White noise is beneficial for babies when trying to fall asleep since it lulls them to sleep and helps block out exciting sounds that the baby is still trying to get used to. There are white noise machines that can help block out sounds – I like using a sound machine like this one.
A good nighttime routine is essential so that your baby will distinguish naps from bedtime. It is also important that you incorporate 3 to 4 things consistently in this routine and you might also want to keep them in order.
A good bedtime routine would have very little stimulation, be very calm, and also involves less interaction with mom or dad. Try out different things to see which one works the best for your baby.
An example nighttime routine could be:
- Having a bath then changing into clean pajamas and diaper
- Reading a book and cuddles
- Singing a bedtime rhyme
- Top off feeding
- Get into bed
Dealing with waking up at night
This is will happen at some point and when it does, you would just need to know how to handle the situation as best as possible:
- Don’t turn on bright lights – use dim lighting like this light night if you need to.
- Avoid talking to your baby, you can hum them a tune if you want.
- Avoid direct eye contact.
- Avoid changing diapers unless they’re dirty or very wet. You can also try switching to bigger sizes just to keep from changing them as often at night.
- After feeding, get your baby straight back to bed drowsy, but not sleeping.
- As much as possible, give full feeds.
Teaching baby to fall asleep on their own
What’s important is you put your baby in bed drowsy, but still awake. This will allow them to learn how to fall asleep on their own and eventually it would also apply during nap times.
Let baby fuss for a minute
Even if it goes against your motherly instincts, try to give your baby a minute or two to help them self-soothe and calm down. If after this time baby is still fussing, try to see if diapers are okay, they aren’t cold, hungry etc. and address whatever the baby needs.
It is important that your baby gets the recommended hours of sleep every day. Make sure your baby isn’t also too tired when you are putting them to bed since this will only keep them restless and they won’t be able to fall asleep.
What NOT to do during the 4 month sleep regression
Build bad habits
This could be you rocking them to sleep, sleeping with your baby, nursing to sleep, etc. If you are giving in to these little things, in the long run, it could be bad for your baby since you are preventing them from falling asleep on their own and encouraging these bad habits.
Using sleep associations as crutches
Sleep associations could involve nursing, a bottle, pacifier, swaddle, rocking to sleep etc. You don’t want to use these tools to put your baby to sleep since it could make them too dependent on them and can turn into a bigger problem later on.
This can be harder to fix down the line so while they are younger, make sure you prevent this from happening.
When it comes to addressing 4 month sleep regression, consistency is key. You also need to have patience when it comes to teaching your baby good sleeping habits. Keep at it and your hard work will be rewarded in the end!