As a Baby Sleep Coach, I understand that parents may feel like they are getting the hang of having a baby and navigating their sleep patterns, but you shouldn’t get too comfortable. Your child will go through many regressions in their sleep over the first few years of their life. Being prepared and not being blindsided when your good sleeper is suddenly a sleep avoider is the best way to tackle this sleep turmoil.
Mothers holding their baby in her arms while looking at each other.

What is 4 months sleep regression?

Your baby may have gone through their first sleep regression at around 8 weeks old, but now, only two months later, they may be going through it all over again. The 4-month sleep regression can be the most challenging one for parents because it is a significant milestone in your baby’s sleep development.

Sleep regressions are a significant topic when it comes to your baby’s sleep routine, especially during the first couple of years of their life. The 4-month sleep regression is a developmental stage that many babies go through, leading to disrupted sleep. At around 4 months of age, babies go through significant changes in their sleep cycles and begin to develop more adult-like sleep patterns. This can result in a disruption to their previously established sleep patterns, including more frequent night wakings, shorter naps, and difficulty settling to sleep.

During this stage, babies may also experience other developmental changes, such as increased motor skills, teething, or starting to roll over, which can also affect their sleep. The 4-month sleep regression can be challenging for both babies and parents, but it usually resolves on its own within a few weeks to a few months. Parents can help their babies through this stage by establishing consistent sleep routines, providing a comfortable sleep environment, and responding promptly to their baby’s needs.

What other ages will my child go through a sleep regression?

Babies may go through several sleep regressions throughout their first year of life, but there are five significant sleep regressions parents should be aware of, including:

  • 8 weeks
  • 4 months
  • 8-10 months
  • 12-15 months
  • 2 years

How long does the 4-month sleep regression last?

The 4-month sleep regression is a common developmental milestone that typically occurs around 3-4 months of age and can last for a few weeks to a few months. The duration of the 4-month sleep regression can vary from baby to baby, but on average, it can last between 2-6 weeks. During this time, your baby’s sleep patterns may be disrupted, and they may have more trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This can be frustrating for both you and your baby, but it’s important to remember that this is a normal part of their development. If you’re concerned about your baby’s sleep patterns or have any questions, a sleep consultant can help you develop effective self-settling methods and create a comfortable sleep environment.

A mother holding her baby in her arms and gently rocking him to sleep.

How does a sleep regression affect your child’s sleep?

By your baby’s second sleep regression,  they are developing a way of sleeping that is more like that they will have for life.  This is them fluctuating between a light sleep and a much deeper sleep.  It’s also the stage where your baby starts needing you less which means you can encourage them to self soothe.  They need to learn this skill to help them settle between wake up periods and to help extend the time when they are asleep.

Top tips on how to survive 4 months sleep regression:

  • Stick to a consistent bedtime routine: Establishing a consistent bedtime routine can help your baby learn when it’s time to sleep, making it easier to fall asleep during a sleep regression. Try to keep the routine simple and consistent every night, so your baby knows what to expect. This may include things like a bath, reading a book, singing a lullaby, and snuggling.
  • Try to establish a nap schedule: Naps can be especially important during a sleep regression, so try to establish a nap schedule that works for your baby. This may involve paying attention to your baby’s sleepy cues and creating a nap-time routine to signal that it’s time to rest.
  • Stick to a consistent wake-up time: Even if your baby has had a rough night of sleep, try to wake them up at the same time every morning. This will help regulate their body clock and make it easier for them to fall asleep at night. Make sure they having right amount of sleep in 24 hour, use this sleep chart.
  • Be patient: Remember that sleep regressions are a normal part of a baby’s development, and they will eventually pass. Try to be patient and focus on creating a calm, soothing environment for your baby. Offer extra cuddles, soothing music, or a pacifier.
  • Be flexible: Your baby’s sleep patterns may change frequently during a regression, so be prepared to adjust your routine as needed. Be willing to try different things to see what works best for your baby.
  • Don’t let your baby get overtired: Overtiredness can make it harder for your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. Watch for signs of tiredness, like yawning, rubbing eyes, or fussiness, and try to get your baby to sleep before they get too tired.
  • Ask for help: Sleep regressions can be exhausting for parents, both physically and emotionally. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, or a professional if you need it. Sometimes just having someone to talk to can make a big difference.
  • Take care of yourself: Remember to take care of yourself during a sleep regression. Get enough rest, eat healthy foods, and take breaks when you need them. Remember that taking care of yourself will help you better take care of your baby.
  • Stay calm and positive: Your baby may sense your frustration or stress, which can make it harder for them to sleep. Try to stay calm and positive, even if you’re feeling exhausted. Remember that sleep regressions are temporary, and things will eventually get better.
  • Keep the bedroom conducive to sleep: Make sure your baby’s bedroom is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Use blackout curtains to keep out light and white noise to mask any background noise that could disturb your baby’s sleep. More on bedroom set up here.
  • Be mindful of growth spurts: Sleep regressions often coincide with growth spurts, which can make your baby extra hungry and fussy. Be prepared to offer extra feedings and comfort during these times.
  • Encourage self-settling: your baby will be much more aware at this stage of when it is sleep time because of things that you may have put in place to help them. This means if you feed your baby to sleep, rock your baby to sleep or whatever routines you have, then they need to be done every single time because this is the only way your baby knows to get to sleep and it is why them learning to self settle  becomes super important at this stage. You need to change the sleep associations so you are less involved and it is where your bedtime routines come into play.
  • Consider exploring gentle sleep training options if your baby is having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep during the 4-month sleep regression. Gentle sleep training can help your baby learn to self-settle and establish healthy sleep habits. You can find a variety of downloadable sleep guides here to help guide you through the process. Additionally, if you would like more personalised support, you can reach out to a sleep consultant for 1-on-1 help habits.

A peacefully sleeping baby in a crib.

Can the sleep regression be something else?

There are a few other things that could be affecting your child’s sleep that you may want to eliminate before assuming it is a sleep regression.  

  • Teething When your baby is teething, they obviously experience some discomfort. You can look to see if any teeth are breaking through to see if it is this or watching if they are mouthing/chewing more.  Also, if teething is disrupting their sleep, it is usually only a couple of days so you can use these facts to decide whether teething is the cause.
  • Separation anxiety As baby gets older (from around 6 months) your baby becomes more away of when you aren’t there and they don’t like it.  This may make them harder to settle because they may be clingier.  They also might not like to be left to fall asleep by themselves. More on separation anxiety here
  • Illness If your child isn’t feeling themselves this could lead to many restless nights until they recover.
  • Growth spurts Your child is obviously doing lots of growing and if they are going through a spurt of growth, it might mean they need to take in extra feeds to provide the energy they need and therefore wake up more frequently.  They also happen more often than sleep regressions do and last for shorter lengths of time.  Because of the extra feeds they need, they might start developing the sleep association of being fed to sleep.
  • Nap transitions If your child is changing their nap patterns (dropping one, having them at different times, shortening them) they might have trouble sleeping as they adjust to their new routine! This might even cross over with times that some of the sleep regressions are due.

Frequently asked sleep regression questions

Will a sleep regression mean all our sleep training has gone out of the window?

No definitely not. There may be a few blips through the various sleep regressions but keeping your routines and sleep procedures consistent is the best thing you can do for your baby.

Will my child go through all of the sleep regressions?

They are all developments in your child that are signs of them growing up. Your child may or may not show signs of all sleep regressions, and it’s best not to panic before it even happens. It’s possible that it might not even be that bad. While it’s possible that your child may go through all the sleep regressions at some point, it’s important to note that they may affect some children more than others. Sometimes, you may not even realize that your child is going through a sleep regression until it has passed. Therefore, it’s essential to stay patient, provide comfort and support to your child, and work on developing healthy sleep habits and routines to help them navigate these phases successfully.

How long will sleep regression  last?

Each one is different.  Some are due to changes happening in your baby, whereas some are due to changes within their life such as changes to their routines.

When should my baby be able to learn to self-settle?

Around 4 months.  It is a great skill for your baby to learn (and you) because it helps them link sleep times together rather than waking up completely between each one.  It also should lead to less work from you.

Is there anything else I can do to help my baby sleep better?

Make sure you look after yourself.  If you have a support network, now might be the time to rope them in. Learn to prioritise jobs and don’t sweat if your house is a little messier than you are used to.  Other parents will know the feeling. With an older child you can look into foods that promote sleep and with any child you can make sure they get outside as much as possible, both to tire them out and to get lots of vitamin D which helps promote sleep as well.

 

Conclusion

Sleep regression is a normal developmental milestone that many babies go through around 4 months of age. It can be a challenging time for parents, but it is important to remember that it is temporary. There are a number of things you can do to help your baby through this sleep regression, such as sticking to a consistent bedtime routine, encouraging self-settling, and considering gentle sleep training options.

To summarise:

  • 4-month sleep regression is a normal developmental milestone.
  • Common symptoms include frequent night wakings, shorter naps, and difficulty falling asleep.
  • Tips for helping your baby through sleep regression include:
    • Stick to a consistent bedtime routine.
    • Encourage self-settling.
    • Consider gentle sleep training options.
  • Other things that could be affecting your child’s sleep include teething, separation anxiety, illness, growth spurts, and nap transitions.
  • If you are concerned about your baby’s sleep, please talk to your pediatrician.

Sleep regression is a temporary phase, and your baby will eventually return to their normal sleep patterns.

Refference:

https://www.sleepadvisor.org/sleep-regression/

 

Where can I go for more support? If you still feel you need more support, you can check out our   1 : 1 consultation services or our baby sleep guides or send us a message to see how else we can help.

There is a lot of information to look through, but take it one step at a time and deal with each sleep problem as it comes.  Being prepared should help make it all easier for you all but help is also available should you feel you need any extra support.

A baby sitting up on the bed with a smile on their face.
Ultimately my top tip is to remember that you can do this! I won’t lie and say it will always be easy, but just know that in the long run you are helping your baby learn a valuable skill and improving all of your sleep long term.

If you liked these tips and wanted to learn more about how to support your child to sleep at this age, my 5 star parent-rated, baby sleep guide for baby’s that are 3 to 18 months old is 

available here or why not purchase our sleep bundle to cover all sleep up until school here.

HOLISTIC BABY SLEEP COACH
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