How to Survive the 4 Month Sleep Regression: Tips for Parents

Many parents struggle with the 4 month sleep regression. In fact, you may be here because you are dreading the upcoming sleep regression or you are in the thick of it and looking for tips on surviving the 4 month sleep regression. You are probably wondering what happened to your newborn’s sleep?! I’m here to help you understand why this sleep regression happens and give you tools to help you and your baby get through the 4 month sleep regression with ease.

What is the 4 month sleep regression?

The Four Month Sleep Regression is not a myth, it is a developmental milestone! Your baby is no longer sleeping like a newborn because they are no longer a newborn! Your baby is more aware of their surroundings, learning new skills and developing sleep cycles which are more like those of adults. The four month sleep regression doesn’t mean they are regressing, it means they are moving forward; growing and developing! It can be the 4 month sleep PROGRESSION and it is the perfect time to help your child establish healthy sleep habits.

Swaddled baby sleep; 4 month sleep regression

When does it start?

The 4 month sleep regression begins between 3 and 4 months of age or 13-15 weeks of age. During this time, your baby’s sleep patterns are starting to change. Your baby is now capable of connecting sleep cycles (sleeping longer stretches) and becoming an independent sleeper. Like with other skills, your infant needs your help to learn just how to do it and how to do it well! 

Signs of the 4 month sleep regression

About 16 weeks after your due date, infants develop mature sleep cycles more like those of adults. While newborns have only two stages of sleep, around four months of age, your baby’s sleep is more controlled by circadian rhythms and they move through different stages and cycles of sleep. The good news is this means that your baby can sleep longer stretches of sleep and develop an infant sleep schedule. Yay! The bad news is that during this transition you may see more disruptions in your infant’s sleep. 

Signs include:

  • Challenges falling asleep
  • Short, 30-45 minute naps
  • Frequent night wakings
  • More crying or fussiness 
  • Reduction the overall amount of sleep

How long does the 4 month sleep regression last?

The lack of sleep due to short naps and frequent night wakings can prolong this period and lead to a sleep debt for your child. Sleep challenges can last weeks (or longer!) if no adjustments are made to help your infant’s sleep improve. The four month sleep regression is not a phase you just cross your fingers and wish away! It is actually a cue that your baby is ready to adjust to a schedule ideal for sleep and become a more independent sleeper. Thankfully, this sleep regression doesn’t have to be long lasting and it is a perfect opportunity to sleep train. 

What can you do to help your baby?

The answer is simple – help your baby establish healthy sleep habits. Establishing healthy sleep habits early enables your child to reap the benefits of being a well rested child. At four months of age infants are developmentally ready for a consistent schedule to regulate their circadian rhythms allowing them to get the best sleep and the right amount of sleep. Developing a plan helps to set your infant up for success! 

Tips for the 4 Month Sleep Regression

Here are 4 tips to help your baby through the four month sleep regression:

  1. Establish a consistent bedtime routine. 

Adding in a short, consistent routine will help your baby settle and prepare for sleep. You can incorporate a sleep routine for nap and night sleep. The routine can take 10-20 minutes and include quiet activities such as ready books, signing a song and putting your infant into their pajamas.

  1. Replace the swaddle with a sleep sack. 

I know it is scary to think about removing the swaddle but it is time! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends removing the swaddle by 8 weeks of age. Infants typically start to try to roll over around two months of age. As soon as you see signs of rolling, remove the swaddle and replace it with a sleep sack that allows your baby’s arms to be free. 

  1. Put your baby down awake.

Your baby is now more aware of their surroundings. Aiming to put your infant down awake for nap and night sleep will help them recognize their crib as their place for sleep. 

  1. Offer the crib.

Your baby isn’t a sleepy newborn anymore! They are more aware and able to recognize their surroundings. t is also time to start to transition away from the bassinet. Offering the crib as a consistent sleep environment will help your baby realize that sleep is coming next. IRemember, to always follow safe sleep guidelines by placing your baby down in an empty crib, alone and on their backs.

Helping your child through this transition sets them up to have long lasting sleep skills. 

Baby sleep

Can I prevent a sleep regression?

Not really as you don’t want to prevent the developmental changes that your infant is experiencing at this time. However, you can ease this transition by helping your baby establish healthy sleep habits.

Can I sleep train my baby at 4 months of age?

You can sleep train your baby at four months of age. If your baby is struggling to fall asleep, taking short naps, or waking at night, your baby is tired. They may not be getting the sleep they need. It is time to make a change and help them to succeed at becoming a little sleeper. 

If you are ready for sleep training, you don’t have to do it alone. I am here to help you align the puzzle pieces of sleep and provide you with support so we can establish healthy sleep habits for your baby. You don’t have to just let your baby “cry-it-out”. In fact, setting your child up for success involves much more than just applying a method. Instead, I will help you understand your baby’s sleep needs to develop lasting, healthy sleep habits. When working with infants we will discuss gentle sleep methods as well as the benefit to keeping or eliminating night feeds. 

Whether your child is 4 months or 5 years old (or anywhere in between), I am here to help you! You don’t have to weather the storm alone. Let’s connect and get started so you can help your baby get the sleep they need to achieve their dreams!

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