The 4 month sleep regression is one of those hot topics for moms of young babies.  You’ve either experienced the tiring, sleepless time that it creates or you’ve heard about it and dreading the fact that you’ll be there in the not so distant future.  All this leads to endless discussions on what this regression is, what to expect and how to handle it (or better yet prevent it). 

Why is there such a regression?

The first thing I’d like to suggest is to reframe the way you think about this difficult time.  Instead of a regression think of it as a progression.  The reason your baby’s sleep is so disrupted is because of so many AMAZING changes in your baby’s development.   Such as:

  • At 4 months a baby’s sleep is becoming more adult like. Newborn baby’s fall straight into deep sleep but at this age, they now start their sleep in a light stage of sleep and transition to that deeper stage later.  This means you can’t just rock, cuddle or nurse them to sleep and pop them in their crib because they will wake up to full alertness and the cycle starts again.
  • Babies start rolling. This means goodbye swaddling but unfortunately not always goodbye to the startle reflex.  When you ditch the swaddle there might sometime before your baby gets used to that startle reflex that wakes them up.  Some parents swear by the Magic Merlin Suit for this time.  Rolling can also disrupt a baby’s sleep because they might get upset that they landed on their tummy and don’t yet know how to get back.
  • Babies are more sociable and aware of their surroundings. This means they don’t necessarily like sleeping in strollers, wraps or baby carriers anymore and prefer their crib in a dark, non-stimulating environment.  My son, as an example, would only ever nap for 45 minutes in a stroller or carrier past 4 months, but if he was in his crib would nap A LOT longer.
  • Transferring between sleep cycles is now not as easy as it used to be and babies will often wake up after 45-50 minutes. They need lots of practice to re-learn this skill.

How to handle this difficult time.

  • Babies, this age need to be going to sleep earlier in the night – between 6 to 8 pm. If a baby goes to bed too late it can lead to an overtired baby which will make this difficult time much worse.
  • Identify if there are any sleep associations your baby has and start trying to teach your baby independent sleep skills. This means putting your baby down awake and aware and giving them the opportunity to put themselves to sleep on their own.
  • Keep wake windows short. Keeping to wake windows no bigger than 1.75hrs will prevent your baby from getting a second wind and finding it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Take a look at your sleep environment. Make sure that the room your baby goes to sleep in is dark (blackout blinds are key!) and consider using a white noise machine as well to block out those intermittent outside noises.

When you should consider getting professional help.

If your baby doesn’t have self-soothing skills or an inappropriate sleep schedule prior to entering the 4 month sleep regression it may be difficult to break through to the other side.  In general, the 4 month sleep regression only lasts approximately 2 weeks.  If it seems to be taking your baby longer than this to improve their sleep, please contact me for a sleep strategy session or a full package and we can get your little one’s sleep back on track in no time.

Good luck with this regression!   I’ll be sending you supportive vibes from over here.


4 month sleep regression

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