One day, your baby is sleeping like an angel, and the next day the 4-month sleep regression hits. Here’s why it happens, signs to look out for, and possible solution.
The following scenario has happened to millions of parents around the globe:
Your little one had been sleeping in 5-hour chunks every night. Then, suddenly, when she turned four months old, she started fighting going to sleep. She began waking up at night and staying awake for an hour. You have tried rocking, patting, and nursing, but nothing seems to work.
What’s going on, and what can you do to put an end to your sleepless nights?
It may be comforting to say this behavior is perfectly normal and is known as the 4-month sleep regression. It’s the first sleep regression, and I’m sorry to say that others may follow, such as the toddler regression.
Your baby’s brain is continuously evolving as she’s trying to adapt to her new environment. She may be going through a growth spurt or trying to master rolling or flipping over. As a result, her sleep patterns become more hectic.
What are the signs of the 4-month sleep regression?
The most important sign to look out for is a sudden worsening in sleep patterns. If your child was sleeping well in previous months and suddenly started fighting going to sleep, she might be going through a sleep regression.
Apart from a disturbance in sleep patterns, other signs include:
- fewer naps
- many night wakings
- changes in appetite
How to deal with a 4-month sleep regression
Promote an early bedtime
A baby that’s going through sleep regression will spend hours awake and crying when put to sleep.
If your child normally goes to sleep at 7 pm, then try setting back her bedtime to give her more room to adjust. Instead of putting her to sleep at a later bedtime in hopes she will sleep in a bit later, try putting her to sleep earlier to encourage a good night’s sleep.
Doing so will also prevent your baby from getting overtired, causing additional, and sometimes more severe, disturbances in her sleep patterns.
Once you establish this “early to bed, early to rise” routine, stick to it. Consider creating a gentle bedtime routine of bath, massage, and songs before your child goes to sleep.
Having a regular bedtime routine will help your baby learn, through actions, that it’s time to go to sleep. Your bedtime routine doesn’t need to be too complicated. In fact, it can be something as simple as a massage or a warm bath. Making it simple will make it possible to consistently repeat your bedtime routine anytime, anywhere.
Make sure your baby gets a good nap
If adults need around eight hours of sleep to feel rested, babies need a lot more. In general, babies need about 12 to 17 hours of sleep, including day naps and nighttime.
It’s recommended that babies between four and 11 months old get around 12 to 15 hours of sleep. That means that your baby needs 10 to 12 hours of sleep at night, plus a few hours of napping.
If she’s waking up too often during the night and seems tired during the day, let her make up for the lost shut-eye by encouraging more day napping. As she’ll be more rested and not overtired when it’s time to go to sleep at night, she’ll have an easier time settling down.
Control your baby’s sleep environment
Babies need an environment that’s conducive to sleep to beat sleep regression. When you put your child to sleep, make sure you reduce all distractions. The nursery shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. The ideal room temperature for a baby is between 68° and 72°F (20° to 22.2°C).
Another nursery must-have is a sound machine that can help encourage a good night’s sleep. Whether your dog is barking in the next room or your neighbor is taking his motorcycle for a spin, you can rest assured that your baby won’t notice a sound.
If you live on a well-lit street or street that gets plenty of sunshine during the day, try getting blackout curtains. Apart from blocking out sunlight, these curtains also reduce outside noise so that your little one won’t be disturbed by sounds like traffic.
Introduce sleep training
If you want to help your baby sleep better throughout the 4-month sleep regression by allowing her to learn to fall asleep on her own, then sleep training is the way to go.
Once you feel like you and your baby are ready, try gradually changing the sleep associations so that she can fall asleep on her own and soothe herself back to sleep when she wakes up.
There are many sleep training techniques to choose from. The one that’s best for you depends on your baby’s temperament, your preferences, and your family’s unique circumstances.
Although some families attempt sleep training on their own, others may need additional help. That’s what sleep trainers like myself do — provide that additional help. When working with a sleep trainer, they will offer a personalized, individualized sleep program that’s tailored to your family’s lifestyle.
Promoting an early bedtime, making sure your baby gets a good nap, setting a sleep-conducive environment, and introducing sleep training are the steps you need to take to promote a good night’s sleep. These techniques will help you prevent a baby’s 4-month sleep regression from becoming sleep deprivation for the entire family.